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Plant-pollinator networks along altitudinal gradients: structural variation and underlying mechanisms

Grant number: 22/05015-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): August 28, 2022
Effective date (End): August 27, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal Investigator:Thomas Michael Lewinsohn
Grantee:Rafael Barros Pereira Pinheiro
Supervisor: Tiffany Knight
Host Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Germany  
Associated to the scholarship:20/06771-2 - Simple and compound network topologies in different modes of species interactions, BP.PD


Understanding of how plant-pollinator networks change across environmental gradients is currently limited by heterogeneity in spatial, temporal and taxonomic resolution of field data. Furthermore, new modeling and statistical tools are necessary to quantify the roles of neutral and deterministic factors in driving spatial network change. sINTERVAL (Interaction variation along altitudinal gradients) is a new working group of the Synthesis Centre for Biodiversity Sciences (sDiv) within the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig, Germany. The candidate has been invited by Prof. Tiffany Knight, the proposed supervisor in Germany and PI of sINTERVAL, to participate and develop a project in tandem with this working group in sDiv. The working group sINTERVAL will address the above gaps by developing a general framework of modeling and statistical tools, mobilizing data, and applying these to understand the effects of elevation on plant-pollinator interactions. More specifically, sINTERVAL aims to: (1) develop a general framework of modeling and statistical tools; (2) develop an open access database and data paper including plant-pollinator networks sampled along altitudinal gradients; (3) develop an R package and a user-friendly app to enable standardized analysis of spatial network change in Ecology; and (4) apply these tools to synthesize the effects of elevation on plant-pollinator interactions using data from mountain ranges and volcanoes across the world. The proponent's research stay (BEPE) is timed to coincide with the first working packages (WP) of sINTERVAL concerning, respectively, aims (1) and (2). In the WP1 we will generate null models with increasing complexity to explore mechanisms required to explain real-world network structural variation along gradients. The WP1 includes brainstorming virtual meetings with more than 25 scientists around the world, followed by focused work by a smaller group. The goals of the WP2 are to mobilize data, design and populate a database, and publish a data paper. The proponent will participate in all activities of sINTERVAL during the research stay, taking part in the analyses and procedures envisioned by other participants as well as submitting his own theoretical and methodological contributions. More specifically, as an original contribution to the working group, the candidate will apply the framework for simple and hierarchical compound network topologies, which was successfully tested in the first phase of his pos-doctoral research with Prof. Thomas Lewinsohn (Unicamp, Brazil), to the study of plant-pollinator interaction variation along the altitudinal gradients. The proposed project is expected to result in (1) a paper describing the theoretical framework developed, (2) an R package, (3) an open access database and (4) a data paper. After the proposed stay, the candidate is likely to participate in other phases and products of sINTERVAL. The proposal has a high potential to expand the collaborative network of the candidate and of the Brazilian research group, and to generate innovative research ideas that may be of future value within the Brazilian synthesis center, SinBiose, which is co-funded by FAPESP and an active partner of sDiv. (AU)

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