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Phylogenetic analysis of spatial and temporal patterns of community biodiversity (OXPHYLODIV)
Start date: 01 Feb 2008, End date: 31 Jan 2009 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The major goal of the present project is to develop innovative statistical methods for analysing community biodiversity, a highly timely objective within the current efforts for preventing biodiversity loss. Most of current biodiversity studies exclusively focus on the number of species and/or the relative abundance of the species in communities. Recent research has been undertaken to measure biodiversity by considering functional or phylogenetic information. However very few studies combine these two important aspects into a single analysis and when they do, the relative abundance of species is not included.The present project combines these three interrelated criteria for a better description of community diversity: species abundances, functions of specie s in communities and their evolutionary relationships through phylogenies. The project tackles the complex question of the relative influence of species functions, species history, and random ecological processes of birth, death and dispersal on biodiversity.This research will provide two innovative statistical developments:(1) a decomposition of biodiversity, accounting both for the phylogeny and the functional traits of species and separating the effects of each, and(2) an associated spatial analysis.These new statistical methods will allow the description of patterns of community diversity from simulated and field data. The simulated data obtained by advanced mathematical models will enable the fellow to identify key processes, related to either neutral or adaptive theories, underlying the observed biodiversity patterns. This fellowship will be held at the University of Oxford, which will provide the fellow with training in mathematical biology and statistical analysis of phylogenies. This, together wit h the various complementary skills of the European participants associated with this project, will assure the feasibility and high quality of the fellowship.
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