The current diversity of ecological systems is a result of complex interactions between biotic and abiotic regulators acting in space and time. While abiotic processes tend to influence biodiversity at larger spatial and temporal scales, biotic interactions are increasingly being recognized as important drivers of evolutionary change at smaller scales and in high-diversity systems. In the marine realm, reefs have acted as cradles for biodiversity through time, however, their present status as coral dominated systems is largely a product of the last 60 million years of evolution. Throughout this time, fish and coral assemblages have displayed marked functional changes reflecting the processes of speciation, extinction and dispersal of lineages around the globe. My research aims to understand how this macroevolutionary dynamic have been regulated through time and across large spatial scales, leading to present-day coral reef biodiversity patterns. By combining information from fossils, phylogenies, species ecology and distributions for both fishes and corals, I intend to disentangle the specific effects of biological interactions and changing environmental conditions on functional and phylogenetic diversification on reefs globally.
Alexandre (Ale), just like you and coral reefs, is a product of evolution. After originating in Africa three hundred thousand years ago, Ale’s ancestors moved to America around twenty thousand years ago. Five hundred thousand generations later and after an unknown level of genetic mixing, Ale was born in Brazil and decided to study Biological Sciences. During his undergrad studies he started working with fishes and obtained his bachelor’s degree at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in 2013. After that, he earned a MSc degree in Ecology from Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (2015), examining the evolutionary processes related to the latitudinal distribution of reef fish biodiversity. Between 2015 and 2016 he acted temporarily as a lecturer of Ecology and Vertebrate Zoology at the same university in Brazil. Finally, in 2017 he moved to Australia to undertake his PhD and is currently being supervised by Peter Cowman and David Bellwood.