Does dispersal influence extinction risk? A long term experimental study

Habitat loss and fragmentation is considered to be a great threat to biological diversity (Davies et al. 2000). In some circumstances, dispersal allows species to survive in fragmented landscapes by compensating local extinctions with colonisations (Ranius 2006) and allowing adequate gene flow between populations to avoid genetic impacts (Schmuki et al. 2006).

The Wog Wog experiment was established in 1985 to quantify the effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity (Margules 1993) and has produced some important studies on the effect of habitat fragmentation on beetle species (Davies & Margules 2000; Davies, Margules & Lawrence 2000; Davies et al. 2004; Davies et al. 2001).

New data emerging this year, from research led by Drs Davies and Melbourne at the University of Colorado, will identify species of beetle that have become extinct and those that have survived in the experimental fragments over 25 years. I aim to find out why.

My project will use detailed species-level research to identify the factors influencing the extinction or persistence of species in fragmented landscapes. By researching the dispersal capacity of beetle species with known responses to fragmentation, I will determine the influence of dispersal on the risk of extinction after fragmentation, with implications for reserve design, including large-scale connectivity projects.

Updated:  23 March 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director Fenner School/Page Contact:  Webmaster Fenner School