Certain configurations of functional traits are selected under each new type of conditions. This basic component of natural selection can be surprisingly constant if these new conditions are similar, but the biological scale at which traits selected may be not, as they can vary depending on the different evolutionary histories and recent environmental changes that affected the composition and functional characteristics of the species present in different regions. In this study we show that dung beetle communities living in habitats recently transformed from forest into open pasturelands show significant selection of traits related to relocation behavior, size and flight both in two different landscapes, one at the Cerrado (the Brazilian savanna) and another at the Atlantic Forest. However, while the selection of traits related to flight ability such as eye dorsal area occurs between species in the Cerrado –where the proportion of open habitats was historically much larger, it does within species at the Atlantic Forest –a biome characterized by its closed habitats. This evidences that, although similar processes may be selecting the same (or related) traits in the two biomes, they do at different scales depending on the composition of the species pool. That is, the traits most adequate to reach the resource in open areas are selected in both biomes, but since the Cerrado species have a long history of inhabiting open habitats, in this biome the selection occurs at the species levels. While the dung beetle species from the Atlantic Forest lacked such adaptations, so there the selection occurs at the individual level –in what could be the start of the process of evolving new trait adaptations that may eventually lead to new species.
About The Author
I am a biogeographer with broad interests in macroecology, community ecology, island biogeography, insect ecology, evolution, and biodiversity research. My main research aim is to determine why biodiversity – and in particular community structure – is geographically distributed the way it is, and to identify the processes that domain the spatial and temporal dynamics of ecological assemblages. I work as Scientific Researcher at the Department of Biogeography and Global Change of the Natural History Museum in Madrid (MNCN), a research institute of the Spanish Scientific Council (CSIC). I am also External Professor at the Departamento de Ecologia of the Federal University of Goiás (UFG) in Brazil, and Associate Researcher of the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (cE3c) of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon in Portugal.
I am a biogeographer and community ecologist, working as scientific researcher at the Department of Biogeography and Global Change of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC).
I am also scientific collaborator at the Postgraduate Course on Ecology and Evolution of the Universidade Federal de Goiás and the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (cE3c) of the Universidade de Lisboa, and member of eBryo – Research Group on Experimental Bryology.