Biological interactions play an important role on the diversification of organisms. Macroevolutionary studies have usually focused on a broad evolutionary perspective (e.g. phylogenies of big clades) but usually adopt a simple characterization of species interactions. On the other hand ecological studies usually focus on well characterized interactions of a very few species although more recently ecologists have been able to characterize large ecological networks. A network approach can augment our understanding of the ecological roles played by different species but still lacks an evolutionary perspective preventing us to fully understand how ecological interactions are assembled. Using the available phylogeny, dietary data for all bird species (approximately 9965 species) and a large collection of frugivory networks, we will investigate the evolutionary consequences of diet on speciation and extinction rates, and the role of speciation and extinction on building ecological networks. We will first use both maximum likelihood and bayesian approaches to estimate the rates of speciation and extinction associated with different diet guild. Then we will test whether or not two recently developed phylogenetic methods are capable of detecting decline of diversity using molecular phylogenies. Lastly, we will use 23 published frugivory networks, different network metrics (e.g. closeness and betweenness centrality), and estimates of speciation and extinction rates to investigate if different ecological roles are played by species belonging to lineages with different diversity dynamics.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: