Centre for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate

Research director of the Centre for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, Professor Carsten Rahbek


The Centre for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate
focuses on the fundamental evolutionary and ecological principles and processes that generate and maintain biodiversity on Earth. We study past, present and future patterns in biological diversity, its distribution, the interactions among species and their future fate under global change of climate.

Research focus

Our research addresses over-arching questions about the underlying principles of life.  We focus on understanding the past, present, and future of biodiversity by integrating approaches from community ecology, macroecology, macroevolution, systematics, phylogeography and biogeography.

Using a combination of modelling (statistical & mathematical), experiments, and field-based approaches in hypothesis testing frameworks, we shed light on the processes that are fundamental to understanding the evolution of biological diversity.

This approach requires the generation and integration of natural history knowledge, coupled with distribution, genetic data and evolutionary and traditional specimen-based research on thousands of species.

We also actively promote and apply how knowledge generated from our research can address two of the most pressing challenges of our time:

  • Combatting the ongoing mass extinction of species.
  • Predicting the effect of global land-use and climate change on biological diversity, ecosystems and human health.

Main findings

Front-cover article in Science, in which we publish the first-ever generated global map of genetic diversity. The results show that human activity has already transformed reduce genetic diversity within animals:
An Anthropocene map of genetic diversity

Using cutting-edge light level geolocators, we followed migratory birds from Denmark to Africa and revealed that individual birds through movement are able to track ressources-level within and between continents. This paper quickly became a Highly Cited Paper:
Resource tracking within and across continents in long-distance bird migrants

In a 13-pages article in Science, we published the first model biodiversity using first principle to incorporates the processes of speciation, movement, maintenance and extinction through 800,000 years to elucidate the causality of what generate contemporary distribution and diversity of life at a continental scale:
Modeling the ecology and evolution of biodiversity: Biogeographical cradles, museums, and graves