Floral evolution and diversification in the light of morphospace analyses

A striking feature of organismal morphological variation is that not all the theoretically possible architectures have been explored during the evolution of species. Existing morphologies are restricted to a limited set because of developmental, functional, and phylogenetic constraints. In this project we compare the occupied portion of the morphological space (or morphospace) through geological time and among distinct clades. This project focuses on physical and biological rules, convergence and contingency at play during the evolution of natural shapes. This project addresses the structural diversity of flowers with focus on the order Ericales. The immense morphological disparity found among ericalean flowers as well as the availability of a series of interesting floral fossils and a sound phylogenetic framework provide a strong basis for our project.