CGDP - Specific Goals      Part 1
Tropical marine biodiversity can be overwhelming. The most familiar pattern of shallow water diversity is the classic coral generic diversity contours as seen below. Many other unrelated groups exhibit this same pattern including shorefishes, molluscs, and echinoderms. While being well documented in a number of groups, this striking patttern is poorly understood, and theories concerning speciation mechanisms remain largely untested.
A geographical database for cowrie species has been compiled and the specific diversity contours using the same numerical scale can be seen below. The cowrie diversity pattern is identical to the classic contours for corals; however, these contours are at the species level. This is important because species are the appropriate taxonomic unit to test speciation mechanisms. Additionally, because the patterns are identical, cowries can be used as a model group to study diversification processes.
Now that cowries are established as a representative group, we propose to use a comprehensive species level phylogeny (hypothesis of relationships) to test speciation mechanisms.