Williams College biology professor gets $1.6 million grant from National Science Foundation

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Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

WILLIAMS, Mass. (NEWS10)-Assistant Professor of Biology at Williams College, Ron Bassar, was given a three-year grant of $1.6 million for research to better understand the effect of ecology and evolution on the coexistence of similar species. The grant was awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The project, “The Evolution of Fluctuation-dependent Species Coexistence,” is a collaboration between Bassar and professors from the University of California, Florida State University, and the University of Oxford.

“Understanding the processes that allow similar species to coexist has been a longstanding question in ecology and evolution,” Bassar said. “It is important because diversity is a defining characteristic of natural ecosystems. Traditional explanations for coexistence have focused on static differences between species. This research will be among the first to explore the possibility that differences in species responses to intra-annual environmental variation can allow species to coexist.”

Field research will be conducted at four locations in Trinidad, studying communities of Trinidadian guppies and killifish. The grant will provide research opportunities for 38 recently graduated research scientists.

The grant allows the continuation of research already being conducted by the team of researchers. More information about The Guppy Project can be found on the project’s website.

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