Alfonso Ruiz Moreno - AIMS@JCU

Alfonso Ruiz Moreno

alfonso.ruizmoreno@my.jcu.edu.au

PhD
College of Science and Engineering

Alfonso Ruiz Moreno

alfonso.ruizmoreno@my.jcu.edu.au

PhD
College of Science and Engineering
Spatial and temporal dynamics of reef fish diversity: Combining community ecology and phylogenetics.

Alfonso was born in Huelva, in the southwest of Spain. Since he was a child, he was fascinated with the marine realm and moved to Australia in 2014 to study a Bachelor of Science majoring in marine biology at JCU. During his studies, he became fascinated with biodiversity patterns. In 2018, he did an honours project looking at the ecological processes behind patterns of abundance of species under the supervision of Sean Connolly and Tobin Northfield. He is currently doing his PhD at JCU under the supervision of Sean Connolly, David Bellwood, Hugh Sweatman and Mike Emslie, looking at the spatial and temporal biodiversity patterns of reef fishes from an ecological and phylogenetic perspective. In his project, he aims to compare community ecological and phylogenetic measures of biodiversity, and to evaluate which processes are driving these biodiversity patterns.

Spatial and temporal dynamics of reef fish diversity: Combining community ecology and phylogenetics.

2019 to 2023

Project Description

Understanding the processes behind biodiversity patterns has been a main focus in ecology. However, macroecological approaches have treated species as different discrete category, ignoring variation in the ecological or phylogenetic relatedness between species in a community. This project aims to compare community ecological and phylogenetic measures of biodiversity, and to evaluate which processes are driving these biodiversity patterns.

Project Importance

This will contribute to develop a much-needed biodiversity theory. Such theory is necessary to better understand whether and how ecological interactions will influence the way species respond to the present and future environmental challenges they are exposed to.

Project Methods

At this time the specific methods involved in this project are not fully completed. However, this project will have two broad components. One will focus on the spatial aggregation patterns and another on the temporal diversity patterns. Similarly, there will be data analysis components and process-based modelling components. This project will use existing data for the empirical component, from the long-term monitoring program from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), as well as previously published phylogenetic trees and trait values.


1) The general methodology for the spatial aggregation pattern will be:

• To develop a phylogenetic aggregation statistic, which quantifies how the spatial variances in species abundances are correlated in space.

• To test whether species are phylogenetically aggregated at local scales, and determine the strength of that aggregation.


2) The general methodology for the spatiotemporal diversity patterns will be:

• Calculate the abundance-based and phylogenetic based diversity measures and determine how they change over time and space.

• Calculate functional diversity, determine its change in communities over time by using different sets of traits in the literature that define the different functional reef fish groups.

• Compare abundance-based and phylogeny-based biodiversity.


3) The general methodology for the process-based models:

• Formulate metacommunity ecological similarity-based niche models introducing processes, such as density dependence (i.e. exploring different functional forms), dispersal, species interactions based on ecological similarity, and stochastic processes.

• Formulate metacommunity phylogenetic similarity-based niche models introducing similar assumptions as above but taking into account the relatedness interactions based on phylogeny found in parts 1) and 2).

• Simulate time series data with spatial structure for both types of process based-models.

• Compare the types of ecological and phylogenetic types of patterns the process-based models produce under different assumptions (e.g. dispersal asymmetry, different functional form of density dependence, different strength of environmental fluctuations) and how well it resembles empirical reef fish biodiversity measures from part 1) and 2).

Project Results

It is expected that some phylogenetic aggregation pattern will be found, with more related species more strongly aggregated than distant species in their evolutionary history.

Temporal phylogenetic diversity patterns patterns could follow similar trends as biodiversity patterns.

There are some theories about the different mechanisms that produce some of the ecological patterns seen in nature. However, it is unclear if the same processes will drive the patterns of phylogenetic diversity that will be explored in this thesis.

Keywords

Biostatistics,
Distribution,
Ecology,
Quantitative marine science

Supervised By:

Sean Connolly (JCU)

Mike Emslie (AIMS)

David Bellwood (JCU)