Alison Eyres

Alison Eyres









Alison Eyres

Ph.D. Student

Member of Emmy Noether Research Group 'Macroevolution of birds and mammals'

Research interests

I am interested in understanding the ecological and evolutionary processes that drive patterns of biodiversity. One major factor influencing the distribution of species is climate. As such, my current research focusses on the dynamics of climatic niches in birds.

One-fifth of birds (~2000 species) migrate seasonally between breeding and wintering grounds. However, many studies of climatic niches use only breeding distribution and year-round climate data, ignoring seasonal dynamics in climate and distribution.  For my PhD project, I am using breeding and wintering range maps to characterise and compare climatic niches inhabited by migratory birds during each season in order to determine whether migratory birds track a single climatic niche throughout the year. The results have implications for understanding the drivers of seasonal movements and the evolution of both climatic niches and migration.

Understanding the current climatic niches of birds will allow me to investigate the interplay between past climatic conditions, climatic niche evolution and diversification. I am using current climatic niches obtained from my analyses of migratory birds in combination with phylogenies in order to determine whether climatic niche evolution is related to paleo-climatic conditions, and whether there is there a relationship between the rate of climatic niche evolution and clade diversification.