National Projects
Project duration: 
Nov 2014 to Nov 2017

Although human-induced rapid environmental changes (HIREC) are causing one of the greatest biodiversity loss ever observed in Earth's history, some organisms are paradoxically doing better than ever. 


Why some organisms can successfully cope with HIREC whereas most cannot remains obscure. Given that the life history of organisms greatly influences population vulnerability to environmental changes, life history theory provides the basis to resolving this central problem. However, confidence in theoretical arguments has been undermined by a perceived lack of empirical support. The dissociation between theoretical and empirical work reflects the lack of a general theory that integrates the variety of mechanisms through which life history influences the different routes toward extinction.

This project aims to contribute to a more predictive theory by combining comparative analyses, models, experiments, molecular techniques and observational studies in birds and insects.

Specifically, we propose to

(1) characterize species sensitivity to different HIREC to evaluate how biodiversity will be affected when these alterations act simultaneously

(2) empirically explore the mechanisms by which life history tradeoffs affect such sensitivities

(3) use extensive and detailed comparative surveys and observations, complemented with experimentation, to investigate the key role of behaviour and underlying neural structures as a nexus between life history and response to changes.

The research will contribute to fill the current gap between theoretical and empirical work, shedding new light into fundamental ecological and evolutionary problems and contributing to the debate over the extent to which HIREC cause biodiversity loss. The results will also inform in assigning conservation priorities for two distinct taxa with contrasting life histories and key ecosystem functions, hence contributing to preserve the fundamental ecosystem services upon which human civilization depends. 

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