Environmental change often alters the structure and dynamics of local communities, as well as their spatial structure. Understanding how local communities influence system-wide (metacommunity) properties has become a stimulating area of research, particularly in response to increasing climate variability, widespread anthropogenic disturbance, and global biodiversity losses. Despite important advances in metacommunity theory over the last decade, research on the temporal dynamics of metacommunities is still precursory. The proposed research focuses on understanding what controls metacommunity dynamics in fluctuating ecosystems, with the ultimate goal of predicting how punctual impacts on communities may scale up to erode biodiversity at larger spatio-temporal scales. My research agenda here has two objectives: (i) Advance time-series methods that allow understanding how climatic or anthropogenic disturbance mediates the relationship between local (community) and regional (metacommunity) dynamics of biodiversity; and (ii) explore how experimental metacommunities can help us understand the mechanisms behind such dynamics. If successful, these goals will improve our understanding of metacommunity dynamics and will allow predicting extinctions in the face of large-scale climatic events (e.g., mega-droughts) and anthropogenic alterations (e.g., landscape fragmentation).
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