Informing the management of desert ecosystems in the face of global environmental change

Theme: Pan-disciplinary
Primary Supervisor:

Nathalie Pettorelli

Behavioural and Population Ecology, IOZ

Secondary Supervisor:

Mathias Disney

Geography, UCL

Project Description:

Deserts are among the most poorly monitored and understood biomes in the world, despite covering 17% of global land mass and harbouring high levels of biodiversity. Available sparse information suggests that desert biodiversity is declining rapidly.

Climate change and anthropogenic activities (e.g., oil exploitation, mining) constitute important threats to remnant biodiversity and ecosystem services, yet little is known about where and how intensively the impacts of such threats are taking place.

Using the Sahara and the Gobi deserts as case studies, this project will support efforts to protect desert ecosystems, and the people that depends on them, against global environmental change by (a) establishing new remote sensing methodologies to monitor the status and trends in, and threats to, desert biodiversity; (b) assessing and costing the likely impacts of climate change on the provisioning of key ecosystem services.

Policy Impact of Research:

This project will fill several knowledge gaps, support conservation efforts in desert environments, increase the applicability of satellite-based information, and inform international conventions such as the UNCCD and UNFCCC.

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