Biodiversity modelling is largely focused on contemporary ecological constrains on species diversity, while modelling the processes of diversification itself in a spatial context remains challenging. Traditional correlative approaches in macroecology may not provide a mechanistic understanding of the way historical processes have shaped the distribution of biodiversity. To disentangle causalities for emergent patterns, the application of dynamic simulation models may provide a better mechanistic understanding on biodiversity gradients.
For that, we are developing GEN3SIS (formely named GaSM), which is a process based simulation model and infers biodiversity patterns from historical range dynamics taking into account eco-evolutionary feedbacks. This spatial diversification model will provide an important tool for null hypothesis testing and better understanding of the processes of speciation and extinction, which will be contrasted with empirical data. Case studies will include the diversification of tree assemblages (e.g. within the Fagaceae family), marine system (e.g. shallow reef habitat in interaction with another project specific to coral reef system) and alpine plant assemblages.
Ultimately, the model will inform on the ecosystem responses to global changes, and especially the loss of diversification potential for biodiversity. This may challenge current conservation practice, and move current concepts toward an increased focus on the conservation of evolutionary potential.