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COMPARATIVE HISTORICAL RESPONSES TO PAST CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE ATLANTIC FOREST BIOTA: DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES AND LOCAL ADAPTATION

Grant number: 19/08308-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2022
Effective date (End): December 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Applied Ecology
Principal researcher:Miguel Trefaut Urbano Rodrigues
Grantee:Mariana Mira Vasconcellos
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Understanding how past climate change have affected species and communities in tropical regions, where most biodiversity resides, is one of the most pressing ecological questions nowadays. Even mild variations in climate, both in time and space, can drive important eco-evolutionary processes in populations including local adaptation and population size changes. Our main goal is to investigate how those eco-evolutionary processes have impacted multiple taxa in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest and helped shaping the current spatial patterns of biodiversity in this ecosystem today. Using next-generation sequencing data (RADseq) previously collected for 16 endemic taxa of the Atlantic Forest (including plants, lizards and frog species), we aim to investigate if those taxa responded in the same way to past environmental changes in different parts of the forest either showing signatures of population expansion, contraction or no population change over time. We also ask whether those population changes were synchronous or idiosyncratic across taxa and will use species-specific traits and microhabitat of occurrence as predictors for different patterns that might emerge. More importantly, with genome-wide sampling of the genetic variation, our proposed study has the potential to uncover meaningful climate-associated adaptive loci that can explain shared mechanisms of local adaptation across species. Our results can ultimately guide conservation of a highly threatened ecosystem and anticipate potential responses to future environmental change in a tropical hotspot of biodiversity. This post-doc can also serve the purpose of re-establishing a young Brazilian female researcher in Brazil and allow her to transfer the knowledge acquired with genome sequencing and bioinformatics in the US to Brazilian researchers.

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