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Traits influence responses to land-use and climate change in terrestrial vertebrates

Etard, Adrienne; (2022) Traits influence responses to land-use and climate change in terrestrial vertebrates. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Human activities have profoundly impacted global biodiversity. Currently, anthropogenic land-use and climate change figure among the major threats to the world’s fauna. However, not all species respond similarly to these pressures. Interspecific variability in responses to human threats is notably underpinned by the fact that different species possess different ecological characteristics, some of them allowing species to cope with environmental changes, while others confer a disadvantage to species in modified environments. Understanding what renders species sensitive to anthropogenic pressures is vital to inform and prioritise conservation efforts. Yet, in terrestrial vertebrates, a group for which ecological data are the most abundant, it remains unclear which traits are associated with higher sensitivity to human pressures. The aims of my thesis are to investigate whether and which traits are associated with land-use responses and climate-change sensitivity in terrestrial vertebrates, and to highlight some of the consequences for ecosystem functioning. I first assess the global availability of ecological trait data for terrestrial vertebrates, identifying understudied groups and regions (e.g., Central-African reptiles). I then show that, at global scales, disturbed land uses negatively impact the functional diversity of vertebrate assemblages. Further, I find that in all classes, higher sensitivity to land-use and climate change is associated with narrower ranges, smaller habitat breadth and inability to use human-modified habitats. Both land-use responses and climate-change sensitivity are unevenly distributed among dietary groups, highlighting potential food-web disruptions in assemblages under pressure. Finally, I show that land-use responses are influenced by species’ energetic requirements, so that energetic fluxes within vertebrate assemblages are likely modified under human-driven land-use change. Although the large-scale consequences of biodiversity changes for ecosystem functioning remain to be fully understood, my thesis highlights a compositional reshaping of vertebrate assemblages under human pressure and furthers our understanding of anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Traits influence responses to land-use and climate change in terrestrial vertebrates
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10158208
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