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Unifying Ecological and Evolutionary Networks

Final Report Summary - METAWEBS (Unifying Ecological and Evolutionary Networks)

The long-term professional project of the beneficiary is to combine analytical tools, mathematical models, simulations, and data set analysis to address fundamental and applied questions in ecology. The approach is both synthetic and interdisciplinary, merging tools and concepts from different fields to applying in the synthesis between community ecology and evolutionary biology.

The creation of long-term collaborations between the European Union and the United States of America based on common interests on ecological networks and its extension to other complex systems of a very different nature has been successful. This is the main objective of the Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship (IOF) because it will contribute to increase the level of internationalization of the local returning institute. That is, the beneficiary of this European Action has established a very promising international collaboration between the return European research institution (Estación Biológica de Doñana - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) and two American Universities: Princeton University (PU) and Michigan State University (MSU). The link to the first one (PU) was established with the scientist in charge at the host institution, Simon A. Levin. It has started with an interdisciplinary paper published last year in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on the evolution of the network of interdependences between software packages in a computer operating system. This paper has received high attention among scientists including a press coverage by PhysOrg (a very popular science, research and technology news website, The collaboration with Michigan State University was established during a short visit to the Digital Evolution Lab (Devolab) leaded by Charles Ofria. His research group is part now of the BEACON, an NSF Center for the Study of Evolution in Action (USA) which has been funded with $25 millions for the next 5 years. In collaboration with people from his group, the beneficiary has been invited by the editorial board of PLoS Computational Biology to contribute a paper on evolving digital ecological networks (in review). This will be published simultaneously in the Wikipedia and constitute the beggining of a new research line in the frontier between evolutionary biology and computer science. The leadership of this topic has been, without any doubt, the proof of the success achieved by the beneficiary thanks to the Marie Curie IOF.