The ecology of plant extinction hos Københavns Universitet

Worldwide, at least 40% of vascular plants are threatened with extinction. However, in many regions the drivers of plant extinction remain largely unknown. Identifying the biological, ecological and geographical features that make species vulnerable to extinction (i.e. extinction risk assessment) might help us to predict which species are most prone to decline and gain an understanding of the reasons behind the decline. In practical terms, this approach allows for prioritization in nature conservation (single species, group of species, their communities) by focusing on a small number of indicator species categorized as at high risk, to prevent local biodiversity loss at low cost.

The main aim of this research project (BSc, MSc, internship) is to determine a set of plant features (e.g. ecological niche, life-history traits, distribution patterns) that best predict extinction risk in Danish vascular plants. In the beginning of the project, you will familiarize yourself with existing databases on plant features in question and underlying knowledge on plant biology and ecology. Further, you will collect information on a given number of features and test their predictive power using state-of-art statistical approach. Your results will be presented to and discussed together with the experts in Danish plant conservation.

A practical part on applied plant conservation and restoration could be added to the project upon request. Specifically, you could resurrect a (locally) extinct species using knowledge and skills from plant biology (e.g. screening soil seed banks and herbaria for the viable species).

All interested individuals are welcome. The starting date(s) and project duration are flexible and adjustable, as there are many data sources and species to work with. We expect you to have some basic statistical skills (with the R software) and basic understanding of plant ecology and ecology.


Contact Sergey Rosbakh for further details

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