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Do initial amounts of adaptive intraspecific variation matter for the persistence of populations in fragmented landscapes?

Grant number: 19/24355-9
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2020
Effective date (End): April 30, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal researcher:Paulo Inácio de Knegt López de Prado
Grantee:Lucas Rodrigues de Freitas
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:16/01343-7 - ICTP South American Institute for Fundamental Research: a regional center for theoretical physics, AP.TEM


Habitat loss is the most important cause of species extinction nowadays. Moreover, the spatial configuration of how habitat remains on the landscape may bear significance beyond simply the amount of habitat removed. Oddly enough, the amount of species that initially remains in an area is frequently higher than it would be predicted by the species-area relationship, a phenomenon dubbed as the "extinction debt". Yet, this surplus of species in the affected area is theorized as being bound to be extinguished within time frame, defined as the relaxation time. Several explanations to the extinction debt focus on the existence of species whose traits mitigate the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation while overlooking that those favorable traits may arise at the individual level as a consequence of preexisting intraspecific variation on resource usage. Thus, the extinction debt falls at the interface between ecological and evolutionary processes, a hot topic for both theoretical and empirical developments. We propose to use computer simulations to systematically explore the logical consequences of varying initial amounts of intraspecific variation in the relaxation time of populations in the events of both habitat loss and fragmentation. By performing in silico experiments in explicit space that fully control all relevant covariates we aim to advance theoretical aspects of the extinction debt. In doing that, we hope to contribute both to the development of theoretical models and to empirical studies, to fuel a virtuous theory-empiry cycle. (AU)

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