We explore both ecological and evolutionary implications of plant facilitation, assessing the contribution of plant-plant interactions on plant co-existence. This can improve our mechanistic understanding of the ecological factors that can potentially shape the diversity and productivity of natural systems.
In semiarid environments plant facilitative interactions can be crucial for the establishment of some species, and therefore influence the structure of plant communities. In facilitative interactions, one of the species receive a benefit from the association, without reverting in any damage for any of the species involved.
Traditionally, facilitative interactions have been considered from an ecological perspective and usually focusing on pair-wise interactions, in which only two plant species interact. However, in environments where plant interactions are relevant for species survival, they might also result in micro-evolutionary processes, and the benefits of these associations might not be only due to the presence of a given nurse plant species, but instead to the co-occurrence of multiple plant species, with a diverse set of functional traits, coexisting in a given vegetation patch.
The student will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing field campaigns to develop field experiments in different gypsum sites in south Alicante, sample co-occurrence of plant species in vegetation patches and follow ongoing greenhouse experiments to assess the genetic differences between populations with different neighborhoods. (email of contact: [email protected]. Publications: https://scholar.google.com.mx/citations?hl=es&user=e-dAeDEAAAAJ&view_op=...)