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Evolutionary dynamics in ecological networks

Grant number: 18/14809-0
Support type:Research Grants - Young Investigators Grants- Phase 2
Duration: August 01, 2019 - July 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Paulo Roberto Guimarães Junior
Grantee:Paulo Roberto Guimarães Junior
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:09/54422-8 - Structure and coevolutionary dynamics in mutualistic networks, AP.JP
Associated scholarship(s):19/17475-8 - Creating, maintaining, and updating dataset on ecological networks, BP.TT


Ecological interactions are central to biodiversity organization, forming ecological networks of interacting species. From an evolutionary point of view, ecological interactions modulate the natural selection due to interacting species. One of the main challenges in evolutionary ecology is to understand how ecological networks affect the outcomes of evolutionary process. An important step in this direction is developing a theoretical framework to allow one to map evolutionary outcomes to the multiple aspects of the ecology and evolution of species-rich, ecological interactions. In this sense, this project aims to explore three relevant aspects of ecological networks to the evolutionary dynamics. First, using mutualisms as reference system, we will explore how the structure of ecological networks may influence and be influenced by different aspects of evolutionary dynamics. Second, because ecological networks are not isolated across space but connected to each other by the flow of genes and individuals between sites, we will explore the role of gene flow in determining the spatial scale in which patterns of adaptation emerge in ecological interactions. Third, the evolutionary outcomes of ecological interactions partially vary with the effect of the interaction on the fitness of interacting individuals. Consequently, we will explore how the evolutionary dynamics of species-rich, ecological interactions vary between mutualisms and antagonisms. We expect that this proposal, if funded, will contribute to the development and consolidation of a theoretical map for the evolutionary dynamics of ecological networks. (AU)