NWO open competition grant for Daniel Kissling
W. Daniel Kissling (UvA-IBED) received a €230,000 grant from the open competition programme of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), which will be used to fund a 3-year postdoc position. The to-be appointed postdoc will address the question 'Has frugivory influenced the macroecology and diversification of a tropical keystone plant family?'
The aim of the project is to analyse the fruit traits of the more than 2,500 species of palms in the world. The key challenge is to understand how different fruit colours, fruit sizes and fruit shapes are distributed across the world and in relation to the biogeography of animal dispersers. Palms are keystone plants in tropical rainforests and important components of ecosystem dynamics and carbon storage. They are mainly dispersed by animals such as birds and mammals. To date, little is known about the evolution and origin of this tropical plant-animal interaction and whether and how animal dispersers have influenced the evolutionary history of these plants.
The project will use an ecoinformatics approach to better understand the broad-scale distribution of life on Earth. New large datasets will be combined with macroecological and macroevolutionary models to analyse palm trees across the world. The researchers hope that this will provide important new insights into the global ecology of tropical rainforests and the evolutionary history of plant-animal interactions, and therefore helps to better understand the goods, benefits and services that nature provides to humanity.