The Committee on Evolutionary Biology (CEB) is a unique interdepartmental and inter-institutional graduate student training program dedicated to the study of Evolutionary Biology. Faculty and students in the program are engaged in interdisciplinary studies at time scales that range from single generations to the entire history of life and at organizational scales from the molecular to the global.
Why are some places more species-rich than others is an enduring question in ecology and evolution. Tropics generally harbor a greater diversity of life than temperate regions and many hypotheses have been proposed to explain this observation. One set of hypotheses, rooted in ecological niche theory, is based on the premise that tropics are more productive because they are warmer and wetter and therefore can accommodate more species. Another set of hypotheses focuses on historical causes such as the greater stability of tropics over geological timescales allowing greater speciation rates and lower extinction rates. However, it is hard to tease apart these hypotheses because geological stability and productivity are both greater in the tropics compared to temperate regions. Studying diversity gradients along elevational gradients offers one way to test these hypotheses because productivity usually declines as one moves up the mountain, but geological stability and biogeographic history is not expected to vary as much. For my dissertation in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at University of Chicago, I am studying the diversity pattern of songbirds along one such elevational gradient in the eastern Himalayas.Read More about Supriya or visit the Spotlight Archive.