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The cost of partnership between plants and floral visitors: factors that regulate exploitation in pollination systems

Grant number: 20/11171-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal Investigator:Anselmo Nogueira
Grantee:Amanda Vieira da Silva
Host Institution: Instituto de Ciências Ambientais, Químicas e Farmacêuticas (ICAQF). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Diadema. Diadema , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:19/19544-7 - Synergistic effect of multiple mutualists on plants: how bacteria, ants and bees contribute to the evolution of a hyper-diverse lineage of legumes, AP.BTA.JP
Associated scholarship(s):22/07763-9 - How does an ecological cost of a protective mutualism affect the evolution of flower phenotype?, BE.EP.DR


Mutualisms are evolutionarily non-stable interactions due to the high propensity of mutualists to be exploited for individuals that benefit from the interaction, providing little or no benefit in return. Exploiters of pollination mutualisms, for instance, consume flower's pollen and nectar, but do not pollinate the visited flowers. Therefore, plants pollinated by animals can be harmed by this mutualism when interacting more frequently with flower exploiters. However, the cost of this exploitation can vary widely, both in direction and in magnitude. Understanding the factors that lead to this variation is, then, a fundamental step to deepen our knowledge about the functioning of the mutualisms in ecological time and the forces driving its evolution. In this context, the aim of this proposal is to investigate some biological and abiotic factors that may influence the costs of exploitation in pollination mutualisms. For that, the project is divided into three chapters that address the effect of different factors, using different methodological approaches. In the first chapter, I will explore the effect of plant interaction with predator insects on the attractiveness of flowers to pollinators and exploiters, using a meta-analytical approach. In the second chapter, I will investigate how the temporal segregation in the foraging of pollinators and exploiters can modulate the costs of exploration for plants with nectar flowers. Finally, I will investigate in the third chapter how the availability of alternative sources of resources of different qualities for pollinators and explorers can modulate the costs of exploration in pollen flowers. I will investigate the issues in chapters 2 and 3 using experimental approaches. Regarding my professional training, the execution of this proposal will enable me to develop theoretical, analytical, and empirical skills that will strengthen my training as an ecologist and increase my capacity for insertion in my research area. In terms of productivity, the execution of this proposal will result in the production of, at least, three scientific articles with the potential to be published in high impact international journals. Still, I foresee the production of science communication articles that will allow the results generated by this project to permeate between different sectors of society not related to the academic environment. (AU)

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