SELVA Program: Functional Ecology and Andean Diversity


The processes that have defined the spatial and temporal distribution of biodiversity raise questions that ecologists have tried to answer for years. To achieve this, classical ecological theory has applied the concept of the ecological niche. This concept has been used to explain how biotic and abiotic factors regulate the dynamics that structure ecosystems, communities and populations. This is because understanding how organisms interact is fundamental to predict and understand their resilience to changes in the environment.

But to understand the structure of the associations between organisms and communities, it is necessary to transcend the concept of diversity that is generally used: the number of species and their abundance in an area. This means that other aspects of communities must be evaluated such as their ecological diversity, to understand the complexity of their structure and capacity to respond to changes. In fact, the structural complexity of communities is not only useful to understand species distribution patterns, but it can also serve as an indicator of the conservation status of an area.

SELVA understands that this focus is an alternative for defining areas that given their singularity and structural complexity, should be considered for conservation. This is why we have decided to implement functional ecology with two objectives: Determine if there are patterns between shape and function in species of diverse communities across the Colombian Andes, and use this knowledge to identify vulnerable areas where current and future threats to biodiversity exist.

The projects under this SELVA program are:

  1. Functional and phylogenetic structure of Tyrant flycatcher communities in the Colombian Andes