Latitudinal Gradients in Species Diversity: 50 years since Pianka
The American Society of Naturalists will hold a symposium on the topic of latitudinal gradients
in diversity at Asilomar in January 2016. Motivation for the symposium was Pianka's 1966 Amer.
Natur. paper on the subject. The abstract for the symposium is below:
January 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Eric Pianka's classic paper, published in the
American Naturalist, entitled "Latitudinal Gradients in Species Diversity: A Review of Concepts".
This groundbreaking paper provided the first synthesis of the major hypotheses for the latitudinal
diversity gradient (LDG), and stimulated the research trajectories of legions of naturalists. Fifty
years ago, one could have reasonably argued that the six hypotheses for the LDG reviewed by Pianka
were largely untestable. At that time we could not have imagined the revolutionary impact of
molecular phylogenetic analysis in allowing us to test evolutionary hypotheses and explore
geographical variation in rates of diversification. Owing to these and other advances, we may
now be on the cusp of solving this enduring puzzle. Taken together, the speakers in this symposium
provide expertise in phylogenetic, ecological, paleontological and evolutionary approaches. They
will draw on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Pianka's classic paper to show just how
far we have come in solving "the major unexplained pattern in natural history" (Ricklefs 1989).
Moreover, the diversity of opinions among our speakers will spark productive debate, promoting
new approaches towards a synthesis.
David Jablonski. Department of the Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago.
Sean Mullen. Department of Biology, Boston University.
Amy Freestone. Department of Biology, Temple University.
Paul Fine. Department of Integrative Biology, University of California.
Helene Morlon. CNRS, Institut de Biologie de lĠEcole Normale Superieure.
Robert Ricklefs. Department of Biology, University of Missouri at St. Louis.
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