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Metacommunity reorganization and resistence against unpredicable environmental variation

Grant number: 21/00619-7
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: November 01, 2021 - January 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal Investigator:Tadeu de Siqueira Barros
Grantee:Tadeu de Siqueira Barros
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil
Associated researchers: Jorge Laço Portinho ; Victor Satoru Saito


Temporal variability in environmental conditions is used by organisms to adjust vital activities related to growth, reproduction and production of dormant, resistance stages. However, nature is also subject to unpredictable environmental change, which can generate equally unpredictable responses. In addition, most communities have complex dynamics generated by spatial flows. In this context and in a scenario of global changes and loss of biodiversity, investigating the interaction between unpredictable environmental change, spatial connectivity and production of dormant, resistance stages can broaden our understanding of how communities respond and persist to environmental changes taking place in the Anthropocene. Our main objectives here are (1) to investigate how the local and regional dynamics of metacommunities are affected by unpredictable environmental changes in different scenarios of spatial connectivity, and (2) to investigate whether the production and hatching of dormant, resistance stages interacts with dispersal, contributing to the spatio-temporal reorganization of metacommunities. In order to achieve these objectives, we will explicitly incorporate the role of dispersal and dormancy in an experimental manipulation of phyto- and zooplanktonic communities. Since environmental change does not happen homogeneously across landscapes, we will simulate communities in a disturbance gradient, as commonly found in different aquatic ecosystems. For this, we will carry out a manipulative experiment in aquatic mesocosms, in which we will replicate metacommunities exposed to unpredictable environmental change and different dispersal regimes. We will analyze the dynamics of local communities and metacommunities through an integrative approach that considers taxonomic composition (eg, alpha, beta and gamma diversity), emergent properties of food webs (eg, modularity and nesting) and medium-term responses via production of dormancy stages. This proposal can be considered a development of a project carried out during the last two years at UFSCar (process Fapesp 19/06291-3), in which two PhD students under my supervision, and who participate here, actively conducted experiments similar to the one proposed here, but with different objectives. Our entire research team understands that this proposal is a natural and necessary consequence of the previous project. In addition to the expected products, we will (a) understand how unpredictable environmental changes affect the structure, dynamics and the reorganization of biodiversity in regions with varied spatial connectivity, and (b) promote training and professional development of young scientists. (AU)

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