Predicting human impacts and environmental change on Southeast Asian biodiversity: past, present and future

Theme: Biodiversity & Ecology

Primary Supervisor:

Helen Chatterjee

Institute of Zoology, UCL

Project Description:

Eastern and southeast Asia represent one of the world’s most significant biodiversity hotspots, but the region’s fauna is heavily impacted by habitat loss and overharvesting, and is likely to be further affected by future climate change. Data from the region’s rich historical, archaeological and Quaternary fossil records also reveal past distributions of many mammal species under different environmental conditions and human impact regimes.

This PhD will collate past and present species distribution data for a range of highly threatened southeast Asian large mammals (including primates, carnivores, elephants and rhinos) and employ a series of techniques (e.g. species distribution modelling using Maxent and GARP, ensemble modelling, hindcasting) to identify species niche requirements for conservation, and understand how Asian mammals respond to different environmental pressures in both the past and the future.

Policy Impact of Research:

The research will provide a nuanced understanding of ecological responses to environmental change, and will assess the usefulness of different data sources for conservation.

With a focus on threatened species, the results can be integrated into action plans and can test the value of species distribution modelling for conservation planning.


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