During my trajectory I have had the opportunity to be involved in several areas of plant ecology. My research usually combines theories from ecology, evolution and plant physiology. We use the vegetation and flora of beautiful hotspots in the Cerr ado and in the Atlantic Forests to test our hypotheses. We are particularly interested in OCBILs such as the cam pos rupestres and inselbergs.
Seed ecology and evolution
This is our main research interest. Our goal is to investigate the ecology and evolution of seed germination and dormancy both at population, species and community-level. Important questions are "what are the ecological conditions that favour the gain and loss of seed dormancy?", "how seed dormancy is alleviated under field and laboratory conditions?"; "how ecological and historical factors interact to determine germination syndromes"?; "how does gut passage affect germination in vertebrated-dispersed seeds"? These questions have important implications for conservation and restoration of species-rich vegetation. At the community-level, we integrate phylogenetic information aiming to understand how seed functional traits are connected with adult plant distribution. Our ultimate goal is to establish a link between seed germination traits and community assembly using phylogenetic information.
Comparative plant ecophysiology and morphology
The OCBILs are represented by sclerophyllous communities that establish in nutrient-poor, acidic and shallow soils, with high aluminum content. Moreover, plants from these vegetations face strong winds, high irradiance exposure, low night temperatures, seasonal water deficits, waterlogging and fires. At the same time, OCBILs harbor an unusual high level of biodiversity and endemism. "What are the physiological and morphological adaptations of these plants to these harsh enviroments" and "how do functional traits structure plant communities" are our main questions in this research area.
Insects herbivores and pathogens consume a significant fractions of plant tissue. The Cerrado is represented by a very heterogeneous landscape but few studies have looked at the role of spatial and temporal heterogeneity in determining the patterns of herbivory and infection by plant pathogens. We want to know what are the ecological determinants of insect herbivory and plant pathogens at the cerrado. Our studies models are mostly the gall-inducing organisms because they are sessile and easy to count.