Islands - nature s laboratories of extinction?

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Michael Krabbe Borregaard


University of Copenhagen


DKK 4,121,027




Semper Ardens: Accelerate


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. But few people realize that the majority of these extinctions have happened on remote oceanic islands. And while we've got good guesses on why these extinctions happened - hunting, habitat destruction, invasive species (mainly rats or goats), we don't actually know for sure for most species. This project aims to understand these drivers.


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.


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.

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