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The evolution of FIRE-RELATED plant traits in Cerrado ground-layer and the phylogenetic structure in burnt and NON-BURNT plant communities

Grant number: 17/20897-6
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2018
Effective date (End): November 30, 2018
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Giselda Durigan
Grantee:Natashi Aparecida Lima Pilon
Supervisor abroad: Richard Toby Pennington
Home Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), Scotland  
Associated to the scholarship:16/17888-2 - Effects of prescribed burning and frost on plant diversity and structure in Cerrado ground layer, BP.DR


Fire in Tropical Grassy Biomes acts as both an ultimate and a proximate factor influencing plant communities. Understanding the role of fire in the evolution and persistence of species is, therefore, crucial to conserve these ecosystems in the environmental scenarios posed by climate change. Phylogenetic approaches have been explored in the last decade as a promising tool to address these issues. However, so far, the studies have considered only the woody component, whether the ground-layer has been disregarded, due to the lack of well-resolved phylogenies or the difficulty in identification of non-woody species. In this project, we aim to investigate the pivotal role of fire as an evolutionary driver and as a modulator of the community composition and structure in the ground-layer of Cerrado vegetation (Brazilian savanna), using two complementary approaches - evolutionary and ecological. By the evolutionary approach, we intend to test phylogenetic hypotheses for some taxa, in search for patterns related to time for diversification of different life forms and correlating it with the emergence of fire-related traits. By the ecological approach, we will address the role of fire in the current community assemble, using phylogenetic tools to examine changes in community structure under fire and where fire was suppressed (communities under woody encroachment). Given the methodological challenge that this proposal represents, we aim to develop it under the supervision of the experts from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, widely known by their expertise in evolutionary studies of tropical systems.