Our theoretical research aims to understand how the interplay between ecological and evolutionary processes shape the structure and dynamics of different types of species-interaction networks. We have a particular interest in the roles played by rapid evolution as a driver of contemporary biodiversity dynamics.
INTERACTING INDIVIDUALS, DIVERSIFICATION AND THE EMERGENCE OF NETWORK PATTERNS
Our research aims to contribute to the understanding of how biotic interactions taking place at the level of individuals shape patterns of interactions in ecological networks, which are described at the level of species. Facing such a goal, we combine individual-based models (IBMs) and empirical data to study how the interplay between ecological interactions and evolutionary processes -- natural selection, drift, and gene flow -- drive species and interaction patterns within communities and meta-communities. Our IBM approach is based on models of trait evolution and diversification which were originally designed to investigate adaptive speciation within multi-species contexts (Raimundo et al. 2014). We later extended this approach to investigate the interplay between eco-evolutionary processes and biodiversity patterns at disparate scales and levels of biological organization.
THE STRUCTURE AND DYNAMICS OF ADAPTIVE ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS
The second goal of our research is to apply adaptive network models (ANMs) to investigate how community-level properties arise from the interplay between macroscopic changes in interaction patterns at the network level and the population-level processes that shape species properties (traits and abundances). We are particularly interested in developing ANM models to predict how the addition and removal of species from local biotas change community resilience and functional diversity, following the framework recently proposed by Raimundo et al. (2018). We are currently interested in describing species-rich adaptive networks and the fundamental mechanisms driving their topology across a variety of ecological systems, including marine food webs, seed dispersal networks, detritivore networks, and socio-ecological networks.