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Evolutionary Processes in the Appalachian Mountains

Ben Keck, senior lecturer in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is a co-author of a new study that is the first to explicitly link the geologic and evolutionary processes in the Appalachian mountains. The study, “Erosion of heterogeneous rock drives diversification of Appalachian fishes,” was published in Science.

“The Appalachians are incredibly special and have created exceptional biodiversity not seen in any other temperate region,” said Keck, who is also the director of the Etnier Ichthyological Collection. “Our Appalachian mountains are old, but still changing. The old age means we have a museum of species that persist through time thanks to relative stability, while the ongoing erosion drives new species popping up regularly through millions of years. We have a species museum of old things and a species cradle of new things.”

Read their study in Science and a summary of the research online.