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Ecology and evolution of island plant species: the origin of Ilha de Alcatrazes flora (São Sebastião - SP)

Abstract

Oceanic islands have been attracted the interest of scientific community for centuries. Both isolation and habitat restrictions offer a unique opportunity to investigate the evolution of organisms with a low number of ecological variables, allowing an unprecedented advance in the knowledge about the origin of species. Through the synthesis of species records and lists in coastal islands, as well as an inventory of Alcatrazes Island, this project will seek to develop studies at different scales, aiming to understand from ecological processes that influence the diversity and phylogenetic and taxonomic structure of island plant communities, to events of species diversification between habitats within the same island. The main objectives of this project are: 1. To build a floristic inventory of vascular species for Alcatrazes Island, mapping their phytophysiognomies; 2. To develop a biogeographic study, incorporating calculations of diversity and phylogenetic structure, and comparing data on floristic composition between islands and other coastal environments 3. To investigate the colonization origin and speciation events on Alcatrazes Island; 4. To examine size changes in species shared by islands and mainland; 5. To estimate the levels of gene flow and genetic diversity between continental and island populations; 6. To investigate the reproductive system of plant species on Alcatrazes Island, comparing the results with the patterns observed in continental populations; 7. To explore potential sympatric speciation events on Alcatrazes Island by analyzing pairs of congener species that occur within the island. Different types of data will be used to achieve these goals, such as herbarium records, literature data, greenhouse experiments and DNA molecular data. We hope to obtain new data for the Neotropical region that allow the integration between teaching and research initiatives, using insular environments as models to understand ecological and evolutionary processes in highly diverse environments, which are highly vulnerable to the expected climate change scenarios. (AU)

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