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The biological and phylogenetic bases of network patterns in mutualisms

Grant number: 12/04717-4
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2012
Effective date (End): November 30, 2012
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal researcher:Paulo Roberto Guimarães Junior
Grantee:Mariana Morais Vidal
Supervisor abroad: Miguel Verdú del Campo
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Universitat de València, Spain  
Associated to the scholarship:10/11633-6 - Habitat fragmentation in Atlantic Forest and the persistence of plant-frugivore networks, BP.DR

Abstract

Mutualistic interactions are ubiquitous in natural systems and play an important role for population stability, constituting means by which the involved species obtain food resources, shelter, defense, dispersal and other essential benefits. Investigating the ecological correlates that define mutualistic interactions may be critical to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms generating and maintaining biodiversity. In this sense, we will evaluate the performance of species abundance, phenology and morphological traits in predicting interactions between plants and frugivorous birds in the Atlantic Rainforest, Southeastern Brazil. Species traits that mediate species interactions are an outcome of the evolutionary process. Therefore by studying the phylogeny we may get some insights of the underlying causes of patterns of variation in traits and interactions. This way, an appropriate evaluation of the contribution of certain traits to interactions implies considering phylogenetic relationships. By estimating phylogenetic signal in the observed matrix of interactions and assessing the performance of taxonomic information in predicting pairwise interactions, we will consider shared ancestry in the context of community organization. (AU)