|The Whitlock lab|
|Diversification and biogeography of the Lasiopetaleae|
The southwestern corner of Australia has recently been designated one of 25 of the world's biodiversity hotspots because of its extremely diverse and unique flora. Carol Wilkins (University of Western Australia) and I are using plants in the tribe Lasiopetaleae as a model system to understand the history and origins of this flora. The Lasiopets are arguably the largest radiation of Malvaceae in Australia and are most diverse in the southwest. Our project takes a broad and collaborative approach, involving substantial fieldwork, species descriptions, with morphological and molecular phylogenetic analyses. We are using the phylogenetic trees of the approx. 180 species in this group as a framework to study the biogeographic relationships of southwestern lineages and analyze their patterns and tempo of diversification. We are particularly interested in testing if lineages in southwestern Australia are characterized by faster rates of speciation, as well as rates of morphological and molecular evolution.