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The role of phylogenetic relatedness in invasion success: A multidisciplinary study of marine biological invasions (MarInvasPhylogen)
Start date: Apr 1, 2011, End date: Mar 31, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The recent expansion in the field of molecular biology, and its implementation within other fields, has inevitably changed our perception of many biological sciences. As a result, new fields including community genetics and community phylogeny have emerged, which have greatly influenced the study of biological invasions. Our understanding of biological invasions has benefited from the use of community phylogenetic approaches; however, these advances have been made through the study of terrestrial ecosystems, while the study of marine environments remains largely unexplored. Marine ecosystems worldwide are being dramatically altered due to the vast arrival of non indigenous species (NIS). MarInvasPhylogen will employ an innovative multidisciplinary approach to obtain a holistic and mechanistic understanding of the role of phylogenetic relatedness in the invasion process. The following research questions will be addressed: Is invasion success in marine systems predictable based on phylogenetic relatedness? Are particularly problematic invasive species more phylogenetically distinct from natives than those that pose little threat? This project will focus on invasive marine invertebrates, as they are the NIS that most affect native communities, human economies and global biodiversity along coastal areas worldwide. During the outgoing phase, extensive training on phylogenetic tools will be undertaken and research on community phylogenetics, molecular phylogeny and community ecology implemented. During the return phase, a morphological phylogenetic study will be developed. This project will ascertain the congruence among the results found in the study of community phylogenetics, molecular and morphological phylogenies, and community ecology. MarInvasPhylogen will therefore provide a holistic understanding of the invasion process, and advance fundamental knowledge in phylogeny and ecology, build collaborations among institutions, and contribute to my scientific career

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