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Insect-fruit interactions along an environmental gradient in an Atlantic Forest area in Southeastern Brazil

Grant number: 14/18258-7
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2014
Effective date (End): January 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Wesley Rodrigues Silva
Grantee:Janaina Rosa Cortinóz
Supervisor abroad: Anna Traveset
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Spain  
Associated to the scholarship:11/05734-7 - Interactions between frugivores insects and vertebrates seed dispersers of Myrtaceae, BP.DR

Abstract

Studies on the use of resources by consumers attempt to explain which factors influence interactions among species. However, there are few studies focusing on interactions between frugivorous insects, whether pulp eaters or seed predators, and fruits used by them. This interaction is particularly interesting because as these insects depend on fruits for completing their development and fruit production is unpredictable and ephemeral, it is expected that insects use several species as hosts. However, most insects complete their development in the ground and, thereafter, abiotic conditions can filter species in some habitats. Although it is expected that some insects are generalists in resource use, the same species can be specialists in a particular habitat. Moreover, fruits characteristics, as pulp/seed proportion, are also influenced by abiotic conditions, making the quality of a particular resource vary along an environmental gradient. Additionally, frugivorous vertebrates can exert a selective pressure on frugivorous insects through predation, causing these insects to develop strategies that would make fruits less attractive to vertebrates or that would advance insect phenology to leave fruits before these are consumed by such vertebrates. In my PhD Project (Processo FAPESP 2011/05734-7), which is associated to this proposal, I am studying the interactions between plants, frugivorous insects and frugivorous vertebrates in an Atlantic forest area in Southeast Brazil. An interesting approach to analyze my dataset about insects associated with fruits is the use of complex networks. The collaboration with Prof. Anna Traveset will be very rich for this purpose, since she is one of the few specialists working with interactions between insects, plants and seed dispersers and many of her current publications cover the investigation of complex networks. This can be a valuable opportunity to analyze and discuss my dataset, contributing to the comprehension of my particular study and the interactions between insects and fruits overall. (AU)