National Projects
Project duration: 
Jan 2018 to Dec 2020

The alteration of habitats by human activities is considered one of the most important drivers of current biodiversity loss. However, anticipating community shifts has proved challenging owing to our insufficient understanding of how organisms respond to environmental changes. Life history theory provides a framework to resolve this scientific conundrum.


The life history of an organism reflects trade-offs that change the optimal combination of traits such as fecundity, survival and growth that directly links fitness and population dynamics to their environments. While life history theory has achieved important successes in predicting the response of organisms to habitat alterations, we argue here that to help develop a more predictive theory we need to advance in three insufficiently understood topics:

  1. Does variation in life history affect individual fitness and population dynamics of animals in human-altered habitats?
  2. Are behavioural responses part of the life history strategy of animals that successfully cope with habitat alterations?
  3. How does the varying sensitivity of animals due to differences in their life history impact on the diversity and structure of communities?

We propose to address these questions in the context of agriculture and urban alterations at different levels of analyses by means of a multidisciplinary approach using a variety of avian and insect study systems. The results will contribute to reduce current discrepancies between the rates of species extinction predicted by models and the extinction rates actually recorded, as well as to inform environmental policies to mitigate the current loss of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services.