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Phylogenetic comparative methods in hard corals: a pluralistic approach to investigate ecophysiological evolution and tolerance to climate changes

Grant number: 18/21670-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): October 15, 2019
Effective date (End): February 14, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Physiology of Recent Groups
Principal Investigator:Carlos Arturo Navas Iannini
Grantee:Samuel Coelho de Faria
Supervisor: Theodore Garland Jr.
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of California, Riverside (UCR), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:17/05310-9 - A comparative physiology to the causes of coral reef conservation: does trophic plasticity drives tolerance against climate changes?, BP.PD


The current physiological diversity reflects a temporal moment of the entire life history, and species that are recognized as discrete units actually represent a continuum of biological forms and functions linked to each other through space and time. Closely related species are more similar due to the recent divergence, while those more distantly related tend to share functional dissimilarities. Thus, most physiological characteristics observed in living species can be inherited directly from their ancestors, without an ad hoc environmental reason. Thereby, the evolutionary process generates two statistical implications in the comparative physiology: the non-configuration of 'species' as statistically independent units, and the correlation between physiological traits and historical patterns of speciation. The traditional statistic applied to comparative studies inflates the correct number of degrees of freedom and neglects the intrinsic correlation between the data. Therefore, phylogenies must be formally incorporated for the appropriate statistical correction in inter-specific evaluations, as well as for providing important new insights into evolutionary biology. The overarching aims of this internship are twofold: first, to enhance my skills concerning phylogenetic comparative methods with Prof. Dr. Theodore Garland, improving my maturity and sophistication in the field; and second, using such new and modern methods, to evaluate the coral ecophysiological data of my post-doctoral periods (FAPESP #2017/05310-9 and BEPE #2018/17252-6) to test hypotheses concerning the evolution of biological functions and the phylogenetic sensitivity of corals to climate changes. After this 'phylogenetic training', I hope to be able to contribute to disseminating such (r)evolutionary physiology in Brazilian investigations by reinforcing such epistemological approach in the comparative physiology field. (AU)

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