After completing a PhD at Trinity College, Dublin in 2007 and completing postdocs in Cape Town, Sevilla and Zurich, Yanis Bouchenak-Khelladi has been investigating the links between phylogenetic reconstructions and functional trait change to reveal evolutionary and/or ecological processes shaping the present day diversity and distribution of plants under the context of Global Change. Using (i) large molecular datasets, (ii) climatic and geological data, and (iii) physiological and morphological data, one could identify ecological and/or biological innovations in relation with environmental factors. He is particularly interested in understanding the evolution of African biomes. From the tremendous diversity found under Mediterranean climates (such as the CFR and North African Atlas), tropical savannas and tropical forests, one can reconstruct ancestral ecologies of dominant plant lineages to help evaluate the role of plant adaptation with environmental changes. Also, such approach could even be a platform for the development of an integrative framework, from population to species assemblages and, in fine, the inference of biomes evolution along environmental gradients. He feels that it is possible to use the tremendous amount of data available in a phylogenetic context to better understand the macro- and micro-evolutionary history of plant lineages.
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