Camila Yumi Mandai

I am a PhD student at the Ecology Department from Instituto de Biociências of Universidade de São Paulo and a LET member since 2008, when I entered as a Master's student. The reason why I got in LET at the Master's and kept there at the Doctoral's is the commom interest in theoretical questions inside Community Ecology. Currently my main interest is to understand the role of each one of the ecological processes (and their interactions) proposed in community ecology for the diversity of species diversity in biological communities. In my view the most promissing and viable way to explore this subject is under a simulation approach. That is indeed how I pretend to answer my inquiries.:-P

Research Project

Evaluation of ecological processes in the creation and maintenance of biodiversity:a study with computer simulations


Currently, community ecology is in a moment of reflection about its real objectives and mainly in what position it is on the way to achieve them. In studies of review and synthesis, ecologists reached the consensus that community ecology is a disorganized and confusing discipline. Such a scenario would be generated by the accumulation of alternative hypotheses to explain the same patterns of diversity in ecological communities. Although the word “alternative”, the main problem of this excess of hypotheses is precisely the apparently similarity among them. That similarity exists because of small differences among specific details of the proponent's systems, which was enough that the hypotheses were presented as new, even that such proposals were under the same underlying processes.

In this context, it was possible to categorize inside only four groups of ecological processes all the hypothesis explainning the patterns of diversity in biological communities. The process groups are: (1) drift, (2) dispersion, (3) speciation and (4) Selection. Although that categorization, proposed by Vellend in 2010, jointly organized the processes of the main hypotheses explaining the structure of biological communities, the problem of them creating the same patterns of diversity remained. Therefore, in an attempt to distinguish the role of ecological processes in structuring biological communities, the goal of my PhD project is to evaluate the relative importance of each of the processes proposed in the hypotheses in community ecology for the creation and maintenance of diversity in biological communities. Considering as measures of diversity: richness, beta diversity and species abundance distributions (SAD).

To reach that goal the project is based on simulations of communities with a stochastic dynamic of birth and death. The system will simulate metacomunnities in an archipelago or a fragmented landscape. Based on this situation and reference, we will create more complex simulations, with the addition of species interactions (selection), speciation and dispersal, and spatial heterogeneity. With the results of simulations, we pretend to answer the following questions:

- What is the minimal model simulated able to create and maintain species richness, beta-diversity and SADs consistent with those observed in natural communities?

- What processes are not necessary and which are essential to maintain the richness and beta diversity of the communities? And which of these processes alter the shape of the curves of SAD?

- How selection acts on the stability of the richness and beta diversity of the communities

- How does the spatial structure (e.g. the area and distribution of habitat patches) affect the dynamics of communities? And what interactions are most important to maintain the richness and beta diversity after the change of the spatial context?




Página de Discussão com o orientador (acesso restrito).


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mandai/start.txt · Última modificação: 2011/12/20 18:44 por mandai
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