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Islands - nature's laboratories of extinction?

Carlsberg Foundation Young Researcher Fellowships

What

The project aims to understand what has driven species to extinction on islands over the last five centuries. Most people are aware that we are in the middle of an extinction crisis, and that humans have caused extinctions of thousands of species over historical time.

Why

Our planet is under pressure from humanity. In addition to the challenges posed by climate change on human societies and natural communities, we are also in the beginning of an extinction crisis. Yet, still a small proportion of Earth's species have gone extinct.

The majority of these lived on oceanic islands, and have been gradually driven extinct over the last centuries. This project aims to understand these extinctions, ultimately with the goal of helping us prevent further extinctions, also in mainlands.

How

The project will pull together data on species and their extinction times, as well as data on human colonisation, and climatic and habitat changes. These data will be used to create models for extinction, that pulls together information across species, islands and times.

Such a model will help fill in the blanks in our current knowledge, and will also make predictions into the future possible.

SSR

This project has SSR at it's core. As the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services stated in a recent report, we're headed towards an extinction crisis, with 1 million species threatened with extinctions.

Apart from the intrinsic value and right to life of this biodiversity, species extinctions at this scale will also have deep ramifications for human societies and well-being in the future. This project aims at understanding the causes of these extictions.