Paulo Inácio Prado


I am a biologist, PhD in Ecology and teacher at the Ecology Department from the Instituto de Biociências of Universidade de São Paulo.

Before that I was an associate researcher at Environmental Research Center of Unicamp and associate teacher at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo.

My intellectual project is to give more theoretical rigor to Community Ecology. My strategy is to deduce ecological patterns from first principles, and then subjecting them to rigorous empirical and logical tests.

It is also my goal to train researchers who combine deep critical thinking with a solid background in ecology and in the logic of the scientific method.


Imperfect detection - Does it matter?


To evaluate the sensitivity of the results and conclusions of selected case studies to the inclusion of imperfect detection.


The advancement and application of ecological theory depends on unbiased and precise estimates of occurrence, size and vital rates of populations in ecological systems. There is a growing concern that such estimates are strongly affected by observation bias; the most obvious case are false absences. A formalism of hierarchical statistical models to tackle the problem is now available. Colletively known as hierarchical models with imperfect detection, such statistical methods could be applied much more widely than they currently are. Nevertheless, this new approach involves complex statistical procedures and larger sampling efforts. Thus, it is necessary to evaluate the effective gains of the models with imperfect detection in different types of ecological research.

Species Abundance Distributions

Because I seek first principles, one of my research interests is perhaps the only general law in Community Ecology: the predominance of rare species.

My main research project is to develop an analytical protocol to describe this pattern. The research was funded by FAPESP and CNPq, and you can find more information here.

Many of my students also do their research on this topic, see the page of research projects.

Representative Publications

[2009, article | prado2009_ca.pdf]
Prado, P. I. (2009). Distribuições de Abundâncias de Espécies: avanços analíticos para entender um padrão básico em ecologia. Ciência e Ambiente, 39, 121-136.
[2014, manual | www]
Prado, P. I., Miranda, M. D., & Chalom, A. (2014). {sads}: Maximum Likelihood Models for Species Abundance Distributions.
[2015, article]
de Lima, R. A. F., Batista, J. L. F., & Prado, P. I. (2015). Modeling Tree Diameter Distributions in Natural Forests: An Evaluation of 10 Statistical Models. Forest Science, 61(2), 320-327.

Patterns of Biological Diversity

One of the basic approaches of community ecology is to identify patterns and regularities to infer their underlying structuring processes. I was trained in this tradition of observational research, and I specialized in statistical analysis to detect ecological patterns. I keep researching and advising on this subject, see the page of ongoing projects.

More recently, I also started some experimental approaches, like manipulative research in the field, and “virtual experiments” with computer simulations.

Representative Publications

[2004, article | almeida2004.pdf]
Almeida, A. M., Prado, P. I., & Lewinsohn, T. M. (2004). Geographical distribution of Eupatorieae (Asteraceae) in South-eastern and South Brazilian mountain ranges. Plant ecology, 174(1), 163-181.
[2004, article | piza2004.pdf]
Piza, F. F., Prado, P. I., & Manfio, G. P. (2004). Investigation of bacterial diversity in Brazilian tropical estuarine sediments reveals high actinobacterial diversity. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, 86(4), 317-328.
[2005, article | lewinsohn2005.pdf]
Lewinsohn, T. M., & Prado, P. I. (2005). How many species are there in Brazil?. Conservation Biology, 19(3), 619-624.
[2010, article | www]
Pardini, R., de Bueno, A. A., Gardner, T. A., Prado, P. I., & Metzger, J. P. (2010). Beyond the Fragmentation Threshold Hypothesis: Regime Shifts in Biodiversity Across Fragmented Landscapes. PLoS ONE, 5(10), 13666.
[2012, article]
Martensen, A. C., Ribeiro, M. C., Banks-Leite, C., Prado, P. I., & Metzger, J. P. (2012). Associations of forest cover, fragment area, and connectivity with neotropical understory bird species richness and abundance. Conservation Biology, 26(6), 1100-1111.
[2015, article | www]
Castanho, C., Oliveira, A., & Prado, P. (2015). Does extreme environmental severity promote plant facilitation? An experimental field test in a subtropical coastal dune. Oecologia.

Structure in Biological Interactions

I still take part in the research group I graduated, led by Dr. Thomas Lewinsohn, at Unicamp.

I work in collaboration with them and other colleagues in the search for patterns in ecological networks, with emphasis on antagonistic systems of herbivorous insects and their host plants.

Representative Publications

[1999, article | prado_vieira1999.pdf]
Prado, P. I. K. L., & Vieira, E. M. (1999). The interplay between plant traits and herbivore attack: a study of a stem galling midge in the neotropics. Ecological entomology, 24(1), 80-88.
[2002, article]
Prado, P. I., Lewinsohn, T. M., Almeida, A. M., Norrbom, A. L., Buys, B. D., Macedo, A. C. C., & Lopes, M. B. (2002). The Fauna of Tephritidae (Diptera) from Capitula of Asteraceae in Brazil. Proceedings of Washington Entomological Society, 104(4), 1007-1028.
[2004, article | prado2004.pdf]
Prado, P. I., & Lewinsohn, T. M. (2004). Compartments in insect-plant associations and their consequences for community structure. Journal of Animal Ecology, 73(6), 1168-1178.
[2005, article | yotoko2005.pdf]
Yotoko, K. S. C., Prado, P. I., Russo, C. A. M., & Solferini, V. N. (2005). Testing the trend towards specialization in herbivore-host plant associations using a molecular phylogeny of Tomoplagia (Diptera: Tephritidae). Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, 35(3), 701-711.
[2006, article | lewinsohn2006.pdf]
Lewinsohn, T. M., Prado, I., Jordano, P., Bascompte, J., & Olesen, M. (2006). Structure in plant-animal interaction assemblages. Oikos, 113(1), 174-184.
[2011, article | www]
Pires, M. M., Prado, P. I., & Guimarães Jr, P. R. (2011). Do Food Web Models Reproduce the Structure of Mutualistic Networks?. PLoS ONE, 6(11), 27280.
[2014, article]
Jorge, L. R., Prado, P. I., Almeida-Neto, M., & Lewinsohn, T. M. (2014). An integrated framework to improve the concept of resource specialisation. Ecology letters, 17(11), 1341-1350.

Applied Ecology

On many occasions I could use my skills in analysis and ecological theory to applied research, especially in conservation biology.

Currently these issues are not my main line of investigation, although I keep some ongoing collaborations.

Representative Publications

[2002, book | www]
Lewinsohn, T. M., & Prado, P. I. (2002). Biodiversidade brasileira: síntese do estado atual do conhecimento. São Paulo: Editora Contexto.
[2005, article | lewinsohn2005b.pdf]
Lewinsohn, T. M., Freitas, A. V. L., & Prado, P. I. (2005). Conservation of terrestrial invertebrates and their habitats in Brazil. Conservation Biology, 19(3), 640-645.
[2007, article | becker2007.pdf]
Becker, C. G., Fonseca, C. R., Haddad, C. F. B., Batista, R. F., & Prado, P. I. (2007). Habitat split and the global decline of amphibians. Science, 318(5857), 1775.
[2008, article | ribeiro2008.pdf]
Ribeiro, D. B., Prado, P. I., Brown Jr, K. S., & Freitas, A. V. L. (2008). Additive partitioning of butterfly diversity in a fragmented landscape: importance of scale and implications for conservation. Diversity and Distributions, 14(6), 961-968.
[2013, article]
Laporta, G. Z., Prado, K. L., Kraenkel, R. A., Coutinho, R. M., & Sallum, M. A. (2013). Biodiversity Can Help Prevent Malaria Outbreaks in Tropical Forests. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 7(3).

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In collaboration with many colleagues, I created and teach the courses at the Graduate Studies Program in Ecology at USP

Also at USP, I'm one of the teachers who coordinate our Field Course for graduate students, and the undergraduate course of Population and community ecology of plants.

A comprehensive list courses I teach is in the page of teaching acitivities.

Thesis Supervised

Graduate work already completed. For work in progress, please see the pages of current students.

[2003, phdthesis | www]
Aguiar, S. ((2003). Diversidade de Asteraceae e de insetos associados e padrões de uso de hospedeiro por Tephritidae (Diptera) em diferentes componentes da paisagem do Estado de São Paulo.). Unpublished PhD Thesis , Unicamp, Campinas (Co-advisor).
[2007, mastersthesis | www]
Becker, C. G. ((2007). Desconexão de habitats e o declinio global dos anfibios.). Unpublished Master's Dissertation , Unicamp, Campinas.
[2008, mastersthesis | www]
Torres, P. G. ((2008). Ocorrencia de cães domesticos (canis familiaris) em fragmentos de mata atlantica em zona rural e urbana e sua relação com a ocupação humana do entorno.). Unpublished Master's Dissertation , Unicamp, Campinas.
[2010, mastersthesis | www]
Mello, T. F. ((2010). Estrutura da vegetação, cobertura florestal e preferências de uso da paisagem associadas a vertentes: as quase-florestas de São Luiz do Paraitinga.). Unpublished Master's Dissertation , USP, São Paulo.
[2010, phdthesis | www]
Paise, G. ((2010). Efeitos da fragmentação de habitat sobre a comunidade de pequenos mamíferos de Mata Atlântica no Estado de São Paulo.). Unpublished PhD Thesis , Unicamp, Campinas.
[2010, mastersthesis | www]
Mandai, C. Y. ((2010). Aplicação de modelos teóricos de distribuição de abundância das espécies na avaliação de efeitos de fragmentação sobre as comunidades de aves da Mata Atlântica.). Unpublished Master's Dissertation , USP, São Paulo.
[2011, mastersthesis | www]
Rodrigues, R. C. ((2011). Uso de modelos de distribuição de abundância na análise da relação entre diversidade de aves e variáveis ambientais e antrópicas.). Unpublished Master's Dissertation , USP, São Paulo.
[2012, phdthesis | www]
Laporta, G. Z. ((2012). Biodiversidade de Culicidae e sua interação com arboviroses e malária na Mata Atlântica.). Unpublished PhD Thesis , USP, São Paulo.
[2013, phdthesis | www]
Lima, R. A. F. ((2013). Ajuste e seleção de modelos na descrição de comunidades arbóreas : estrutura, diversidade e padrões espaciais.). Unpublished PhD Thesis , USP, São Paulo.

List of all Publications

Soon in this site. Meanwhile you can check my extended CV in the Lattes Database kept by the Brazilian Research Council ( CNPq ), my profile at Mendeley or at Google Scholar.

Contact Info

Sampling flowerheads to rear tephritids, Serra do Cipó, Minas Gerais, 1989

Postal Address

Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Biociências – USP

Rua do Matão Travessa 14, nº 321,

São Paulo, SP, Brasil,

CEP 05508-090


Ecology Dept.

Ernst Markus Building, Office 341B

Phone: +55 11 30917597

engl/prado/start.txt · Última modificação: 2015/06/12 14:52 por prado
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