Robert Tarrant, MBiolSci

Research

My masters research focuses on the impacts of forest loss and fragmentation on tropical species, and how species characteristics may impact their sensitivity to forest degradation. Specifically, I’m aiming to investigate the relationship between the dispersal ability of birds (inferred by wing morphology) and variation in their responses as forest patches become increasingly small and isolated.

Land-use change in the tropics reduces species richness by causing declines in forest specialists, while also limiting connectivity at landscape scales that affect metapopulation dynamics and restrict species’ ability to undergo range shifts in response to climate change. Although limited dispersal is frequently said to put tropical species at greater risk from land-use change, it’s role in driving species declines following conversion and fragmentation, as well as how sensitivity varies between species, is not yet fully understood. Using data collected along an elevational gradient in the Colombian Andes, I will be modelling species occupancy in forest patches affected to various degrees by land-use change. This will allow me to look at the relationship between hand-wing index, a potentially important but currently understudied proxy for dispersal ability, and species’ sensitivity to forest degradation, with broader impacts for tropical landscape management.

About me

When I’m not working, I enjoy cycling, playing the guitar and going to see live music. As much as I love living in a city, I do need to get out a healthy amount on day trips, camping, and travelling as much as I can afford.