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The role of pollination biology and evolutionary ecology for rapid speciation in biodiversity hotspots (SPECIATION)
Start date: 26 Nov 2007, End date: 25 Nov 2009 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Cape Floral Region supports the richest temperate flora in the world, with 9,000 species of which around 70% are endemic. The species to genus ratio is one of the highest, even exceeding those of oceanic islands such as Hawaii and New Zealand. Despite considerable literature that has been produced on the subject, the reasons for this amazingly high level of diversity are not yet fully understood and would benefit greatly by interpretation from an ecological and evolutionary perspective.We propose to study the causes of diversification in South African plants by focusing on the pollination biology and evolutionary ecology in sister species from two lineages (genera Moraea and Gladiolus). We will build on existing floral and phylogenetic datasets to test alternative hypotheses concerning the radiation of these groups. Together with ongoing work on other plant groups, the study will contribute towards understanding the role of pollination biology and evolutionary ecology in speciation and will help redefine models for biodiversity hotspots around the world.
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