2001 Annual Science Report
Harvard University Reporting | JUL 2000 – JUN 2001
Evogenomics (Collaborative Focus Group Research)
This year we began a new subproject on molecular evolution and phylogeny as part of the NAI Focus Group in Ecogenomics.
(a) Veracity of molecular clocks: work has continued on a new method for accounting for the stratigraphic ranges of species not preserved in the fossil record, with special application to primate origins. The goal is to provide a better understanding of the relationship between molecular clock and paleontological estimates of evolutionary divergence times. This is collaborative work with scientists at the University of Southern California and in Zurich.
(b) De-convolving the biological from geological signals in Phanerozoic marine diversity studies: We have just published a large study that posits the steady increase in biodiversity in the marine realm after the end-Permina mass extinction may be a sampling artifact, the result of the increase in fossiliferous rock towards the Recent. We will continue to develop the database and analysis tools to under take this work.
(c) Quantitative analysis of evolutionary patterns in local stratigraphic sections: work continues on how to best estimate the position of mass extinction horizons in local sections, using both frequentist and Bayesian methods.
(d) Evolutionary genomics: The NAI evolutionary genomics group has made good progress towards identifying key metazoans that should be the focus of some relatively intensive shot-gun sequencing efforts. The object will be to provide data for molecular clocks, as well as to search for key developmental genes.