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Dimensions US-São Paulo: animal biases in fruit selection and seed dispersal as drivers of biotic filters in the assembly of successional forests and their carbon capture potential

Grant number: 21/02943-6
Support Opportunities:BIOTA-FAPESP Program - Thematic Grants
Duration: November 01, 2021 - October 31, 2026
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Ecosystems Ecology
Convênio/Acordo: NSF - Dimensions of Biodiversity and BIOTA
Principal Investigator:Marco Aurelio Pizo Ferreira
Grantee:Marco Aurelio Pizo Ferreira
Principal researcher abroad: Tomás Ariel Carlo Joglar
Institution abroad: Pennsylvania State University, United States
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil
Pesquisadores principais:
Marina Corrêa Côrtes
Associated researchers:Pedro Henrique Santin Brancalion
Associated grant(s):23/01518-5 - Fruits signal optimization as a mediator of frugivory by animals, AP.R
23/01460-7 - Cophyg_Interact patterns and drivers of the phylogenetic congruence in interactions between vertebrates and fruiting plants in Neotropics, AP.R
Associated scholarship(s):23/11672-1 - RNA isolation from the seed rain of six animal-dispersed plants in experimental forest regeneration patches, BP.TT
23/11960-7 - The contribution of frugivory and seed dispersal to forest regeneration: from phylogeny to genes, BP.TT
23/11891-5 - Seed rain sampling and germination of six animal-dispersed plants in experimental forest regeneration patches, BP.TT
+ associated scholarships 23/01708-9 - Ecological factors that influence forest regeneration, BP.DD
23/00617-0 - Influence of morphological and functional characteristics on the structuring of interaction networks between frugivorous birds and plants, BP.DD
22/14219-3 - The contribution of frugivory and seed dispersal to forest regeneration: from phylogeny to genes, BP.TT
22/08868-9 - Acid nucleic (RNA) isolation of six plant species for transcriptome de novo assembly, BP.TT - associated scholarships


Tropical forests play a major role in regulating the earth's climate through their effects on water cycles and their immense capacity to sequester and store atmospheric carbon. Because of their global preeminence and the threats they face, understanding the mechanisms governing community assembly, biodiversity, resilience, and emergent ecosystem functions of tropical forests is urgent. Frugivory and Seed Dispersal (FSD) are overlooked mutualistic processes involving communities of fruit-eating vertebrates (frugivores) and fleshy-fruited plants that dominate tropical forests. In fact, the vast majority of Neotropical trees depend on frugivores, most commonly birds, to disperse their seeds. This places FSD interactions as a central process directly affecting the assembly and resilience of tropical forests in the face of widespread forest disturbance and destruction. But large gaps persist in our understanding of tropical forests since FSD processes have not been seriously considered by core ecological theories. Gaps are also due to the absence of large manipulative field experiments that explore community assembly and functionality in the tropics. This project will provide a novel and rigorous experimental test to integrate multiple theories and mechanisms to advance understanding of tropical forest assembly, biodiversity patterns, and ecosystem functions. This project builds around three Aims that link phylogenetic, genetic, and functional aspects of biodiversity in the context of the role of FSD interactions on community assembly patterns of early-successional tropical forests. With an experimental design that strategically incorporates functional plant traits and phylogenetic relationships as fixed-effects, the project test functional relationships between FSD processes and phylogeny in affecting community assembly (aim 1). The project then examines how the interaction of FSD processes with the functional-phylogenetic traits of pioneer plant species affect the genetic diversity of the plant colonizer species that follow, and in turn, how patterns of genetic diversity lead to differences in plant survival, growth, and community assembly (aim 2). The project ultimately explores how the biotic filtering interactions of FSD processes and the functional and phylogenetic trait diversity of successional communities influence, or are influenced by, soil microbiomes and the nutrient pools and carbon transformation processes they control (aim 3). This project will advance fundamental knowledge by exploring ecological mechanisms and outcomes across disparate scales of biological organization rarely brought together in a single experimental framework. From trophic and seed-dispersal processes linking vertebrates and plants, to soil microbial communities and their role in mediating biogeochemical cycling of essential elements in ecosystems. (AU)

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