Distinguishing historical from environmental effects on species distribution and diversity is crucial for effective conservation planning, especially under changing environmental conditions: we need to know how strongly each species responds to the environment. Data sets with explicit information are scarce, and predictive models often have unverified assumptions and ungrounded conclusions. This project aimed to improve the efficiency of data analysis and conservation plans by working on three main fronts:
– analysing distributional and phylogeographic patterns of European vertebrates, to detect historical signatures and environmental effects;
– analysing groups of species with similar distribution patterns, which may serve as natural units to improve efficiency in conservation planning;
– controlling the robustness of data and methods at every step of the analysis, and assessing the reliability of predictive models in explicit ways.
This project has generated important insights into the origin and generality of biodiversity trends and species distributions. It has also provided innovative tools (including software) and solid guidelines for efficient conservation planning under global change, as well as an Atlas of Mammals in Portugal. It implied hiring researchers, supervising MSc and PhD students, and collaborating with an international set of scientists on matters related to the project goals. Check out our News and Outputs pages for the results and outreach we have achieved.
The project was on for five years (2014-2018), with funding (50,000 €) from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT, Portugal) and FEDER/COMPETE 2020, through grant IF/00266/2013/CP1168/CT0001.