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PROJECT 1

Understanding changes to UK avian beta diversity 1970 to 2010

Description

Beta diversity has been applied to a variety of measures of variation in species composition, with the aim of identifying the difference between species assemblages at sites or points in time. Unlike species richness, the analysis of beta diversity allows different hypotheses on the drivers of species' distribution and diversity to be tested. Species assemblages can be 'different' in two ways: (1) replacement or turnover, and (2) species loss or gain. Beta diversity is the variation in species composition among sites, and can be the result of species replacement between sites (turnover) and/or species loss from site to site (nestedness). This study uses data from the UK Bird Atlas (kindly provided by the British Trust for Ornithology), to derive temporal change in beta diversity. These data for each 10 km square in the UK will be modelled against a variety of landscape and environmental measures.  

Progress

The analysis of temporal beta diversity changes across the UK has been completed in 'R'. The collation and modelling of the factors driving these changes is underway. 

Key Outputs

  • Publication in prep: O'Connell, M.J., White, R.L. and Hounsome, T. (70%). Environmental drivers of changes to UK avian beta diversity 1970 to 2010. Ecography.

PROJECT 2

Factors affecting extinction risk in seabirds

Description

Global indices of change suggest that seabirds are the most endangered group of birds. Understanding the intrinsic (life history) and extrinsic (environmental) factors that make a species likely to decline is therefore of high priority for conservation. Our research is using mixed models and multi-model inference to compare species' attributes to population trend, IUCN conservation status and susceptibility to known threats (whilst controlling for phylogeny).  

Progress

The models have been run in 'R' and are currently being refined. The literature search has been completed and text for the publication drafted (see below).

Key Outputs

  • Publication in prep: O'Connell, M.J., Foxley, T. and White, R.L. (60%). The life-history and environmental correlates of extinction risk in global seabird populations. Biological Conservation.