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Kaustuv Roy


What are the physical and biotic processes that determine large scale spatial patterns of biodiversity? How do species and communities respond to climate change and other anthropogenic impacts and what are the ecological and evolutionary consequences of such responses? These and related questions form the focus of my research. We work primarily in marine systems using interdisciplinary approaches that combine ecological and genetic information from living species and populations with the temporal perspective afforded by the rich fossil record of marine invertebrates.

Origin and maintenance of latitudinal diversity gradients

The latitudinal gradient in diversity - the dramatic increase in the number of species and higher taxa from the poles to the tropics - is a global biodiversity pattern shared by both marine and terrestrial systems. Understanding the processes responsible for the origin and maintenance of such gradients is essential for informed management and conservation of biodiversity, especially in a world faced with rising temperatures, rampant overexploitation of natural resources and increasing urbanization. Yet despite over a century of work such processes remain poorly understood. We are working to better understand (i) the role of ecological processes in maintaining spatial gradients in diversity and (ii) the role of evolutionary and historical processes in generating such gradients. The former includes the role of temperature and other environmental variables in determining the number of species that can coexist in a given region as well as how species respond to changes in climate. As far as evolutionary dynamics are concerned, we are not only quantifying how origination and extinction rates change along latitude, a dynamic still poorly documented, but also how shifts in geographic distributions of taxa over time affect regional patterns of species richness. I am also involved in developing theoretical models to explore how in situ speciation and extinction rates interact with patterns of biotic interchange between regions to create large scale spatial gradients in biological diversity.

Anthropogenic impacts on coastal marine ecosystems

Intertidal and subtidal habitats harbor a diverse fauna of invertebrates, plants and fish yet these habitats are among those most impacted by human activities and least protected. While harvesting practices and other activities of an expanding coastal population all over the world are generally thought to be negatively affecting the species living in these habitats, little quantitative data still exist on the nature and extent of such impacts. In addition, how human impacts are affecting macroecological relationships or biogeographic patterns also remain poorly studied. We have initiated large-scale studies that will quantify the ecological consequences of harvesting (legal and illegal), urbanization and climate change along the California coast. We also plan to initiate similar studies along other coastlines in the near future.

A more detailed description of our research and a complete list of our publications can be found at

Select Publications

  • Pfister, Catherine A., Kaustuv Roy, J. Timothy Wootton, Sophie J. McCoy, Robert T. Paine, Thomas H. Suchanek and Eric Sanford. 2016. Historical baselines and the future of shell calcification for a foundation species in a changing ocean. Proc. Royal Soc. B 283:20160392.
  • Huang, Danwei, Emma E. Goldberg and Kaustuv Roy 2015. Fossils, phylogenies, and the challenge of preserving evolutionary history in the face of anthropogenic extinctions. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112:4909-4914.
  • Huang, Shan, Kaustuv Roy, James W. Valentine and David Jablonski 2015. Convergence, divergence, and parallelism in marine biodiversity trends: Integrating present-day and fossil data. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A 112:4903-4908.
  • Huang, Shan, Kaustuv Roy and David Jablonski. 2015. Origins, bottlenecks, and present-day diversity: Patterns of morphospace occupation in marine bivalves. Evolution 69:735-746.
  • Huang, Danwei and Kaustuv Roy. 2014. The future of evolutionary diversity in reef corals. Phil. Trans. Royal Society London B370:20140010.
  • Huang, Shan., Kaustuv Roy and David Jablonski. 2014. Do past climate states influence diversity dynamics and the present-day latitudinal diversity gradient? Global Ecol. Biogeog. DOI: 10.1111/geb.12153
  • Jablonski, D., C.L. Belanger, S.K. Berke, S. Huang, A. Z. Krug, K. Roy, A. Tomasovych and J.W. Valentine. 2013. Out of the tropics, but how? Fossils, bridge species, and thermal ranges in the dynamics of the marine latitudinal diversity gradient. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110:10487-10494.
  • Huang, Danwei and Kaustuv Roy. 2013. Anthropogenic extinction threats and future loss of evolutionary history in reef corals. Ecology and Evolution 3:1184-1193.
  • Eagle, R.A., J.M. Eiler, A.K. Tripati, J.B. Ries, P.S. Freitas, C. Hiebenthal, A.D. Wanamaker, M. Taviani, M. Elliot, S. Marenssi, K. Nakamura, P. Ramirez, and K. Roy. 2013. The influence of temperature and seawater carbonate saturation state on 13C - 18O bond ordering in bivalve mollusks. Biogeosciences 10:1-16.
  • Berke, Sarah K., David Jablonski, Andrew Z. Krug, Kaustuv Roy and Adam Tomasovych. 2013. Beyond Bergmann's rule: size-latitude relationships in marine Bivalvia world-wide. Global Ecol. Biogeog. 22:173-183.
  • Belanger, Christina L., David Jablonski, Kaustuv Roy, Sarah, K. Berke, Andrew Z. Krug, and James W. Valentine. 2012. Global environmental predictors of benthic marine biogeographic structure. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109:14046-14051.
  • Fenberg, Phillip B. and Kaustuv Roy. 2012. Anthropogenic harvesting pressure and changes in life history: Insights from a rocky intertidal limpet. American Naturalist 180:200-210.
  • Chiba, Satoshi and Kaustuv Roy (2011). Selectivity of terrestrial gastropod extinctions on an oceanic archipelago and insights into the anthropogenic extinction process. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 108:9496-9501.
  • Fenberg, Phillip B., Michael E. Hellberg, Lynne Mullen and Kaustuv Roy (2010). Genetic diversity and population structure of the size-selectively harvested owl limpet, Lottia gigantea. Marine Ecology 31:574-583.
  • Roy, Kaustuv, Gene Hunt and David Jablonski (2009). Phylogenetic conservatism of extinctions in marine bivalves. Science 325:733-737.
  • Schemske, Douglas W., Gary G. Mittelbach, Howard V. Cornell, James M. Sobel and Kaustuv Roy (2009). Is there a latitudinal gradient in the importance of biotic interactions? Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 40:245-269.
  • J. D. Witman and Kaustuv Roy (eds). 2009. Marine Macroecology. University of Chicago Press.
  • Fenberg, Phillip B. and Kaustuv Roy (2008). Ecological and evolutionary consequences of size-selective harvesting: how much do we know? Molecular Ecology 17:209-220.
  • Roy, Kaustuv and Emma E. Goldberg (2007). Origination, extinction and dispersal: integrative models for understanding present-day diversity gradients. American Naturalist 170:S71-S85.
  • Jablonski, David, Kaustuv Roy and James W. Valentine (2006). Out of the tropics: evolutionary dynamics of the latitudinal diversity gradient. Science 314:102-106.
  • Hunt, Gene and Kaustuv Roy (2006). Climate change, body size evolution and Cope’s Rule in deep-sea ostracodes. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 103:1347-1352.
  • Hellberg, Michael E., Deborah P. Balch and Kaustuv Roy. (2001). Climate-driven range expansion and morphological evolution in a marine gastropod. Science 292: 1707-1710.


Kaustuv Roy received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he completed postdoctoral training.

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