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Using eco-evolutionary mathematical models to understand coral metacommunity vulnerability to critical transitions

Grant number: 23/17954-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 15, 2024
Effective date (End): June 14, 2025
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal Investigator:Paulo Inácio de Knegt López de Prado
Grantee:Amanda Barreto Campos
Supervisor: Lisa Mcmanus
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:22/06847-4 - How the Interaction between Global Warming and Symbiont-Mediated Coral Adaptability can lead to Critical Transitions across different Coral Reefs in the world?, BP.DR

Abstract

The global threat of rising temperatures has led to coral reef degradation worldwide. While evolution can potentially aid coral populations in adapting to local temperature increases, disparities in coral responses contribute to distinct community-level patterns. When coral reefs are under stress, critical transitions characterized by shifts in dominance of coral morphotypes or total depauperation can occur, leading to changes in the functional diversity and ecological services of coral reefs. Different coral reefs are subjected to different local environmental conditions and disturbances but are interconnected by coral larval dispersal, forming a metacommunity. Although it is known that the combined effect of evolution and dispersal influence the abundance of coral populations on a metacommunity, we still lack a framework to address how these factors modulate the competition between coral morphotypes with different colonization rates and thermal tolerances. The project focuses on understanding how environmental heterogeneity influences the interaction between competing coral morphotypes with different thermal vulnerabilities and growth rates. By integrating the complex interplay between environmental heterogeneity, evolutionary dynamics, and the impact of increasing temperatures on coral reef ecosystems, this project addresses how evolutionary capacity and dispersal mechanisms may prevent or delay critical transitions caused by temperature increases in coral metacommunities.

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