fugl der flyver

Speciation is influenced by isolation of refugial populations, population dynamics and gene flow among geographical populations of species. Through time, some evolutionary lineages have been successful and contribute a large amount to the global diversity pattern, while other groups, with only a few surviving species, has been less successful.

Our overall research questions

By producing new data and merging phylogenies with data on trait evolution and spatial distribution of large groups of species, we aim to understand why some evolutionary lineages are extraordinarily successful and contribute so much to the overall pattern, while others did not.

Some of our research projects within Speciation are described below.




Birds, class Aves, are described and charted more completely than any animal group. This provides a great test system for diverse questions about biodiversity.

The evolution of birds (B10K)

With this project we work to develop a phylogeny for all species of birds based on base-sequencing of full genomes. The project will make the annotated genomes available as an open resource for research in phylogenetics, genomics and evolution of traits. Read more about B10K.

Professor Carsten Rahbek: crahbek@sund.ku.dk

Professor Jon Fjeldså: jfjeldsaa@snm.ku.dk

Evolution of corvoid birds

In this project, we are producing complete phylogenies for the basal songbird group and the core corvoid groups (Climacterides, Meliphagides and Corvides). This project will provide a mechanistic understanding of the diversification of these groups in the Australasian area of origin and their expansion to other parts of the World.

Professor Jon Fjeldså: jfjeldsaa@snm.ku.dk
Professor Carsten Rahbek:crahbek@sund.ku.dk

The largest avian radiation

This project aims to provide a synthesis, in book format, of the global phylogeny and biogeographic expansion of the largest avian group, the 6000 species of the order Passeriformes. It will present the results of molecular phylogenetic work and analyse questions of greater generality concerning the relative roles of historical contingency, earth history and contemporary environmental conditions.

Professor Jon Fjeldså: jfjeldsaa@snm.ku.dk


Spider phylogeny

We are constructing a genus-level phylogeny to how and why behavioural specializations in the family Araneidae evolved and contributed to the dominance of araneid spiders as predators of flying insects.

Professor Nikolaj Scharff: nscharff@snm.ku.dk
Dimitar Dimitrov: dimitard.gwu@gmail.com

Angiosperm phylogeny

We explore patterns of plant diversity around the globe using a molecular phylogeny of 12,000 angiosperm genera and compilation of global distributional data. 

Read more about The tree of life.

Assistant Professor Zhiheng Wang: zwang@snm.ku.dk
Postdoctoral Researcher Dimitar Dimitrov: dimitard.gwu@gmail.com
Professor Carsten Rahbek: crahbek@sund.ku.dk

Biodiversity in the Eastern Arc

In this project, we focus on arthropods to investigate how climatic and habitat affect taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional disparity across space and time.

Professor Nikolaj Scharff: nscharff@snm.ku.dk
Professor Jon Fjeldså: jfjeldsaa@snm.ku.dk

Phytoplankton diversity

We explore the great diversity of phytoplankton and how species evolve in the Oceans.

Professor Katherine Richardson: kari@sund.ku.dk



Mountains are excellent test systems for exploring questions about speciation and accumulation of species diversity over time because mountain regions are complex, comprising harsh environments with few species as well as places with an extraordinary local concentration of plant and animal species, often with very localized distributions.

Speciation in montane regions

We use large phylogenies and distributional databases to study how diversification processes vary across the montane regions of the world and aim to answer general questions about the roles of mountains as 'sinks' or 'cradles' of species diversity.

Professor Jon Fjeldså: jfjeldsaa@snm.ku.dk
Professor Carsten Rahbek: crahbek@sund.ku.dk

Stability and change in mountains

In this project, we explore the relative roles of stability and change, of ‘cradles’ and ‘sinks’ of species diversity, the role of the World’s montane regions and other environments of high species diversity, and how the latitudinal gradient of biodiversity was generated.

Professor Carsten Rahbek: crahbek@sund.ku.dk
Professor David Nogués-Bravo: dnogues@sund.ku.dk
Associate Professor Michael Krabbe Borregaard: mkborregaard@sund.ku.dk 


Highlighted Papers

Hansen, L., Fjeldså, J., et al. (2016) Social selection parapatry in Afrotropical sunbirdsEvolution Vol. 70: 1307-1321 Download

Jønsson, K. et al. (2016) A supermatrix phylogeny of corvoid passerine birds (Aves: Corvides), Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution Vol. 94, Part A: 87-94 Download

Jarvis et al. (2014) Whole-genome analyses resolve early branches in the tree of life of modern birds Science Vol. 346, 6215: 1320-1331 Download