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A synthesis of the assembly rules of complex ecological systems

Grant number: 18/20695-7
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: September 01, 2019 - August 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal researcher:Marco Aurelio Ribeiro de Mello
Grantee:Marco Aurelio Ribeiro de Mello
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers: Carsten Dormann ; Francisco Aparecido Rodrigues ; Judith Bronstein ; Sharlene Elizabeth Santana Mata


Ecology was provocatively called by Lawton (1999, Oikos) and Vellend (2010, QRB) "a mess". This is so, because it contains a profusion of poorly contextualized data and poorly tested hypotheses, but few formalized theories and very few laws. This mismatch between the theoretical and empirical areas makes our science have low predictive power. The present project aims to help fill this gap by formulating a new synthesis of the assembly rules of complex ecological systems. Findings that we made in previous studies led us to formulate the integrative hypothesis of specialization (IHS), which we now intend to transform into an integrative theory of specialization (ITS). At first, we intend to mathematically formalize and transform the ITS into an efficient theory, which enables us to generate synthetic networks assuming different structuring processes. Then, we want to contrast the structure of real-world ecological systems with variations observed in these hypothetical scenarios, in order to find out which processes are most important at different scales. Thus, ITS will contribute to the solution of two important debates in Ecology: (1) trade-offs vs. niche breadth processes as an explanation for the relationship between performance and specialization and (2) nestedness vs. modularity as predominant topologies in interaction networks. In addition, our synthesis may have practical applications for solving problems related to species interactions, such as the pollinator decline, productivity of agroforests, and control of emerging diseases. (AU)

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Scientific publications (4)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
QUEIROZ, JOEL A.; DINIZ, UGO M.; VAZQUEZ, DIEGO P.; QUIRINO, ZELMA M.; SANTOS, FRANCISCO A. R.; MELLO, MARCO A. R.; MACHADO, ISABEL C.. Bats and hawkmoths form mixed modules with flowering plants in a nocturnal interaction networkPalavras-chave. Biotropica, v. 53, n. 2, . (18/20695-7)
KERCHES-ROGERI, PATRICIA; NIEBUHR, BERNARDO BRANDAO; MUYLAERT, RENATA LARA; MELLO, MARCO AURELIO RIBEIRO. Individual specialization in the use of space by frugivorous bats. Journal of Animal Ecology, v. 89, n. 11, p. 2584-2595, . (18/20695-7, 07/03415-6, 15/17739-4, 14/24219-4, 07/03405-0)
FELIX, GABRIEL MOREIRA; PEREIRA PINHEIRO, RAFAEL BARROS; POULIN, ROBERT; KRASNOV, BORIS R.; RIBEIRO MELLO, MARCO AURELIO. The compound topology of host-parasite networks is explained by the integrative hypothesis of specialization. OIKOS, v. 2022, n. 1, . (18/20695-7)
MELLO, MARCO A. R.; FELIX, GABRIEL M.; PINHEIRO, RAFAEL B. P.; MUYLAERT, RENATA L.; GEISELMAN, CULLEN; SANTANA, SHARLENE E.; TSCHAPKA, MARCO; LOTFI, NASTARAN; RODRIGUES, FRANCISCO A.; STEVENS, RICHARD D.. Insights into the assembly rules of a continent-wide multilayer network. NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, v. 3, n. 11, p. 1525-1532, . (15/17739-4, 17/50144-0, 18/20695-7, 16/25682-5)

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