Brian A. Atkinson, PhD
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Division of Paleobotany, Biodiversity Institute
University of Kansas
Topic: Unearthing the tree of death for Cornales: an integrative approach
Cornales, the dogwood order, rapidly diversified during the Late Cretaceous (100-66 Ma). However, this rapid radiation has made it difficult to infer evolutionary relationships and patterns when including living taxa only. My approach to this problem is to increase the taxon sampling of cornaleans from the Cretaceous record and directly incorporate them (with living taxa) into phylogenetic and comparative analyses. This research highlights the challenges and importance of fossils in reconstructing phylogenetic patterns and evolutionary processes.