Many evolutionary processes are influenced by environmental variation over space and time, including genetic divergence among populations, speciation and evolutionary change in morphology, physiology and behaviour. Yet, evolutionary biologists have generally not taken advantage of the extensive environmental data available from geographic information systems (GIS). For example, studies of phylogeography, speciation and character evolution often ignore or use only crude proxies for environmental variation (e.g. latitude and distance between populations). Here, we describe how the integration of GIS-based environmental data, along with new spatial tools, can transform evolutionary studies and reveal new insights into the ecological causes of evolutionary patterns.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Our research was supported by NSF grants DBI-0434728 (K.H.K.), DEB-0416152 (C.H.G.) and EF 0334923 (J.J.W.), and a NASA new investigator award to C.H.G. For comments on the manuscript, we thank S. B. Baines, D. Moen and other members of the Wiens laboratory group, A. Guisan, and four anonymous reviewers. We thank M. Chatfield and M. Yip for kindly providing the photographs of Plethodon jordani and Catharus ustulatus that appear in Box 1 and Figure 1 , respectively.