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Unraveling the processes and mechanisms that drive the dynamics and functioning of megadiverse forest communities

Grant number: 22/09041-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2023
Effective date (End): October 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Ecosystems Ecology
Principal Investigator:Fábio Pinheiro
Grantee:Vitor de Andrade Kamimura
Host Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:21/10639-5 - Center for Research on Biodiversity Dynamics and Climate Change, AP.CEPID


In this project, we will analyze the effects of intra- and interspecific spatial aggregation and niche differentiation on the coexistence and fitness of tree species and study the impact of extreme climatic events on the functionality of the forest in megadiverse regions. To do so, we will employ spatially explicit models, by means of an integrative approach of spatial, phylogenetic, and functional ecology, based on a demographic database of about 25,000 tree individuals from 13 communities, distributed along an elevational gradient in the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil. Data were collected over 12 years, encompassing sampling periods before and after an extreme drought event in the study area. Together, we will construct a novel dataset of functional trait and generate a molecular phylogeny for the species in the study area. We expect to find: (i) communities with greater diversity showing the dominance of conspecific, causing spatial aggregation and the increase of intraspecific spatial aggregation after the drought event; (ii) interspecific spatial aggregation of functionally dissimilar species; (iii) species coexistence related to local phylogenetic diversity and greater average fitness of individuals in patches with greater phylogenetic divergence from neighbors (iv) greater negative effects of intraspecific competition on the fitness of individuals placed in stressful abiotic conditions, and the drought event increasing negative effects of interspecific competition. As a result, our study will contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms driving the diversity patterns in tropical forests and the effects of extreme climatic events on their dynamics and functioning, thus improving predictions about the effects of climate change on megadiverse forest communities.

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