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The role of genetic constraints on the coevolutionary process

Grant number: 19/21732-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2020
Effective date (End): May 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal Investigator:Paulo Roberto Guimarães Junior
Grantee:Kate Pereira Maia
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:18/14809-0 - Evolutionary dynamics in ecological networks, AP.JP2


In recent years, mathematical models identified some of the mechanisms that drive the coevolutionary dynamics in networks of interacting species. Most of these models assume that interactions are determined by one single trait for each species. However, we know that generally multiple traits mediate the occurrence of interactions between species and therefore influence their coevolutionary dynamics. Moreover, inside populations, traits are rarely independent as a result of the shared genetic effects between them (pleiotropy). These genetic correlations influence species response to natural selection and, consequently, the coevolutionary dynamics between species. In that sense, the goal of this project is to understand how the phenotypic constraints generated by genetic correlations influence coevolution in networks of interacting species. To achieve that, a coevolutionary model based on network theory and on quantitative genetics will be developed. This project also seeks to elucidate the role of selective pressure resulting from interaction partners in the emergence of genetic correlations. The last project goal is to empirically assess the strength of phenotypic constraints between traits which are relevant for the establishment of mutualistic interactions in Neotropical seed-dispersal networks. (AU)