To understand what role geography and ecological niches play in evolutionary processes of species, this research team downloaded and used 200,000 GBIF-mediated occurrences for a case study of Cyperaceae (sedges) species in North America. By constructing a quadrat map they identified six regions with exceptional species richness. When combined with more than 20,000 base pairs of genetic data, they found support for the hypothesis that diversification of the sedge flora is associated with the evolution of species distributions and climatic niches. The study offers a novel approach for making iterative improvements to the use of biogeographical data within a phylogenetic context.
Spalink D, Drew BT, Pace MC, Zaborsky JG, Li P, Cameron KM, Givnish TJ and Sytsma KJ (2016) Evolution of geographical place and niche space: Patterns of diversification in the North American sedge (Cyperaceae) flora. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Elsevier BV, 183–195. Available at doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2015.09.028.