I am doing my PhD at the Conservation Biology department at Doñana Biological Station. My main interest is plant-animal interactions within a spatial scale. My research focuses in the evaluation of a causal positive relationship between density and fitness (Allee effect) over a range of spatial scales in two populations of Chamaerops humilis, which have recently undergone a process of fragmentation, and reduction in the Doñana area (SW Spain).
In small and isolated plant populations there exists a constellation of promising mechanisms that can lead to a sequence of Allee effect (AE) along their recruitment process, particularly under environmentally harsh or stressful conditions as those typical of Mediterranean shrublands. Consequently, there is a huge potential for conflicts due to contrasting fitness outcomes of plant aggregation, making difficult to forecast its overall effect. Thus, for the dioecious C. humilis the AE is possible, not only for the existing fragmentation process, but also due to a variety fitness components distinctive of the species like: very closed aggregations, dispersal limitation, pollen quantity and quality limitations, seed an seedling predation. To assess the existence of an AE or several AEs, I will measure all the mentioned fitness components related them with the population size, within a spatial framework.
Supervisors: Miguel Delibes
Jose Mª Fedriani