This project investigates the factors governing the co-occurrence of closely related Lobelia species in habitats throughout eastern North America. Closely related species are likely to have similar traits and similar ecological needs. On one hand, similarities may result in close relatives being more likely to live in the same environments. On the other hand, similarities may cause close relatives to compete or interfere with one another during growth and reproduction, making it difficult for close relatives to co-occur in the long term. The long-term view is important. Relatively recently, glaciers in eastern North America forced species to migrate southward. This migration changed species geographic distributions after glaciation and likely increased co-occurrence. This research will improve our understanding of how ecological and evolutionary processes affect co-existence and biodiversity.
NSF DEB-2015594 Collaborative Research: BEE: Ecological and evolutionary processes affecting the co-existence of close relatives