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Big-data insights into the biogeographic niche, conservation status and collection bias in the cocoa group (Malvaceae) in South America

Grant number: 19/04530-0
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Master's degree
Effective date (Start): June 10, 2019
Effective date (End): October 09, 2019
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Botany
Principal Investigator:José Rubens Pirani
Grantee:Matheus Colli Silva
Supervisor abroad: Alexander Zizka
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Germany  
Associated to the scholarship:17/19295-1 - Biogeography and conservation of Byttnerioideae, Helicterioideae and Sterculioideae (Malvaceae) in Atlantic Forest, with a synopsis of their species in Southeastern Brazil, BP.MS

Abstract

Mapping biogeographical patterns is essential to understand the evolution and diversification of lineages, especially in currently understudied taxonomic groups, such as the plant family Malvaceae. The family is particularly diverse in the Neotropics, with a high number of species endemic to this region, but currently is unclear if the existing network of protected areas network offers sufficient protection for this enormous diversity. In this project, we chose three subfamilies of Malvaceae - Byttnerioideae, Helicterioideae and Sterculioideae, which comprise 11 genera and 273 species, of which 248 are endemic South America as a model to address questions regarding biogeographic patterns, collection bias, and conservation status. The four months of internship proposed here will enable the student to conduct novel and robust computational analyses to address these issues. Specifically, we ask: (i) are there major areas of endemism and bioregions, and if so, are they linked to environmental conditions; (ii) is the inference of species richness patterns and biogeographic regions affected by the choice of data source (e.g. collection specimens vs observation data); and (iii) Are different groups of Malvaceae represented in sufficiently the protected areas network of South America and what are the implications of that in terms of conservation. This internship is critical to improve the methods and analyses to be applied the above questions, especially considering the large amount of the data to be used (which have already been collected by the student following the initial proposal). The German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research was chosen as the host institution due to the existence of a dynamic research group in Macroevolution and the novel methods for comparative biogeography and big-data analyses pioneered by the host supervisor.

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