Master's degree, doctoral student Chichorro de Carvalho Filipe

30400 €

Trait-based prediction of extinction risk

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Yksivuotinen

Biological diversity is eroding at an increasing pace and most probably more species fall into extinction than are described every single day. Useful knowledge for the conservation of most species is extremely scarce and the current population trends for most of them are unknown. Identifying ecological or functional trait characteristics of species that are the ultimate causes of extinction may be extremely useful to circumvent the lack of knowledge on species trends. In this project, our aim is to identify which are the biological traits (like body size, diet) of species that make them more prone to becoming extinct. To identify such traits, we employ two approaches. The theoretical approach aims to understand the underlying mechanisms governing the relationship between a given trait (for example, body size) and extinction risk. In this approach, we create "virtual" species, or artificial species, which are all similar to each other except in the focus trait, and simulate different threatening scenarios (like habitat loss or hunting) to see which will be the winner. In the empirical approach, the objective is not to understand mechanisms, but rather to find real evidence of correlations between biological traits and extinction risk, for that crossing real species and their known biological traits with threat status. Finally, we will link the theoretical and empirical approach, into a tool that will useful in predicting the extinction risk of poorly known species.