Farmlands and bird phylogenetic diversity

How to best protect avian phylogenetic diversity when converting natural habitats to farmland? By integrating wildlife friendly habitats within farmlands or by intensifying farming in some areas to allow tTrogon personatushe offset of natural reserves?

Edwards et al. (2015) study the effects of these two strategies (land-sharing vs land-sparing) and conclude that small-scale integration of wildlife friendly patches may not be enough for many bird species to persist without the protection of larger natural areas. Thus, a land-sparing strategy is more likely to retain evolutionary distinct bird species while establishing highly productive farmland areas.

For a nice summary of the study check GrrlScientist’s article in The Guardian and some great bird pictures here.

Access the Current Biology publication HERE

Photograph by James Gilroy. Female masked trogon, Trogon personatus, an agriculture loser (land-sparing is best)

Lewis, Edwards and Galbraith in Science

DSC_0544“Increasing human dominance of tropical forests” co-authored by Dr Edwards has just been published in Science. Four chronological phases of human influences on tropical forests are discussed: phase I, hunting and megafauna extinctions; phase II, low-intensity shifting cultivation; and phase III, global integration in which economics drives land-use and climate change.

Finally, the very dreaded phase IV may take place in the near future, so-called “global simplification” by which intensive logging and rapid climatic changes would cause worldwide loss of species. The future lies in the hands of humankind…

Click HERE for the full article

Field season in the Amazon begins

Ileana is now set in Rondonia at the Jamari Concession starting our project in collaboration with the sustainable logging company AMATA Brasil. AMATA has “bar-coded” over 100.000 trees with information on their biomass, species and exact location. This enables them to plan selective logging in detail and provides us with a lot of valuable data to carry out research.birdeater

Ileana and Dave have set up sampling plots which we will use for different purposes. Ileana is working on carbon retention and I (Gabriela) will soon be looking at butterfly communities in the area.

Among other creatures, this remarkably large tarantula (goliath birdeater, we think) was photographed by Dr Edwards. Happy days!

Rubber threatens tropical forests


rubber-plantationNew research suggests that soaring demand for natural rubber threatens large expanses of tropical forests in Southeast Asia.  Natural rubber — used primarily in car tyres — is replacing forest with big costs for biodiversity.  We urgently need an industry sustainability initiative to prevent the loss of forests and uptake from the largest tyre manufacturers.

Read more on the BBC

Or the real article here


New website!

DSC_0677Welcome to our new shiny website. After a few months of playing around with WordPress, I managed to put together everyone’s research profiles. Please navigate to the “People” tab for information and CVs of current lab members. The “News” section will soon be filled with success stories of us travelling the world and publishing in high profile journals. Enjoy!