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Unifying Ecological and Evolutionary Networks (MetaWebs)
Start date: May 1, 2009, End date: Apr 30, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The spatial distribution of genetic variation within species (i.e., genetic landscapes) is a consequence of the ecological and evolutionary processes that determine, ultimately, species distribution patterns. How these interacting processes shape the genetic and ecological diversity remains a key question of evolutionary ecology. In the last years, a huge amount of data at molecular and ecological level has emerged. But we still lack a theoretical framework to shed light on the role that ecological interactions among species play in determining genetic discontinuities and population structure. Specifically, no study has yet explored the role of the structure and dynamics of networks of interacting species in determining the topology of the genetic landscapes of species across spatial scales. In this proposal I will first characterize, using the complex network framework, the spatial distribution of intraspecific genetic variation by generating genetic landscapes for single species from data published in the literature. Second, I will explore, using a metacommunity approach, to what extent the well-known structure and dynamics of food webs and plant-animal mutualistic networks contribute to determine the topological patterns of the genetic landscapes described previously. This will be undoubtedly, the first step towards an understanding of the spatial distribution of genetic and ecological diversity in species-rich communities.

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