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Individual niche variation in coexisting species

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Raul Costa Pereira
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: Rio Claro. 2018-12-19.
Institution: Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp). Instituto de Biociências. Rio Claro
Defense date:
Advisor: Márcio Silva Araujo

This thesis gravitates around the idea that individuals from the same species are ecologically different. Although this fact does not seem surprising, ecological theory has historically neglected intraspecific variation. A clear instance is the classic niche theory, which implicitly assumes that conspecific individuals utilize the same resources. Accordingly, community theory considers that species are well represented by the mean of individuals’ traits. Over the four chapters of this thesis, I studied the patterns, causes, and consequences of the ecological diversity between individuals in the context of multiple coexisting species. I studied four frog species from the genus Leptodactylus that coexist in the Pantanal wetlands and surrounding areas as model organisms. In Chapter 1, I show that trophic niche differences between individuals and species are flexible and context-dependent, which may have important implications to local and regional diversity patterns. In Chapter 2, I elucidate that the tremendous variation in the allometric scaling of trophic interactions within and between natural communities is predictable, responding to gradients of prey limitation. In Chapter 3, I studied trophic niches of competing species in a multidimensional perspective, revealing interesting mechanisms by which individuals and species partition resources in two trophic dimensions. Finally, Chapter 4 advances in the understanding of the underexplored consequences of individual niche variation by showing that temporal diet changes may have major fitness implications. Altogether, these results contribute to broadening our understanding of the mechanisms generating and maintaining ecological variability between individuals in nature, as well as of the implications of this phenomenon across scales of biological organization. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 14/20924-5 - Revisiting the diversity paradox: does intraspecific ecological variation facilitate species coexistence?
Grantee:Raul Costa Pereira
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate