Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Jablonski, David
Location The University of Chicago
Primary Field Evolutionary Biology
Secondary Field Geology
 Election Citation
Jablonski is a leading researcher who tests macroevolutionary hypotheses with empirical studies of fossil marine systems. His quantitative studies of the origination, extinction, and migration of species have revealed new and unexpected evolutionary dynamics with important theoretical and conservation implications.
 Research Interests
My work is macroevolutionary: the origin and fate of evolutionary novelties and lineages. I have focused on marine invertebrates, particularly mollusks, which have a rich fossil record and are extensively sampled in modern oceans. I've developed empirical approaches to multilevel selection, with species-level traits such as geographic range not only influencing origination and extinction rates but showing significant among-species heritability. However, I found many of the factors conferring extinction-resistance during "normal" times to be ineffective during mass extinctions, explaining the disproportionate evolutionary impact of those rare events. The evolutionary aftermaths of mass extinctions are also important, and my work on recoveries from extinction events aims to understand why some survivors fail to diversify, and the factors that set up regional differences in post-extinction dynamics, which demonstrably have long-term consequences. Evolutionary origins also show unexpected spatial patterns, tending to arise in onshore, tropical settings, even when extant descendants are restricted to the deep sea. Recently my research group has been analyzing the dynamics of the latitudinal diversity gradient, finding that the tropics are both a cradle and a museum of biological diversity, with lineage expansion out of the tropics, apparently via speciation, being a major determinant of marine diversity patterns.

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