Gino Brignoli

Gino Brignoli

Profile Display Name:
Gino Brignoli
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Start Year

2018 (Cohort 5)

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PhD Project
PhD Title
Assessing how changes in avian trait diversity and composition alter ecosystem function in human-impacted Afromontane sky islands
Research Theme
Biodiversity and Ecology
Primary Supervisor

Julia Day

Primary Institution
Secondary Supervisor

Ken Norris

Secondary Institution

Birds are an important component in maintaining ecosystem function across a variety of landscapes – fulfilling the vital functions of herbivore predation, seed dispersal, and pollination, among others. While some species have evolved specialised morphological adaptions to occupy restricted niches, others have evolved as generalists, and birds across this trait-space perform various ecosystem functions. However, what remains unclear is how to quantify the direct effects these assemblages of bird functional traits have on ecosystem function. This project aims to address this knowledge gap by exploiting the natural laboratories of East Africa’s “sky islands”, in order to provide empirical evidence for the ecosystem functions that birds perform. Combining surveys, field experiments and molecular data this research will advance the field beyond the now increasingly standard morphology- based assessments to address the links between habitat disturbance, functional structure and ecosystem function.

Anthropogenic pressures have direct effects on habitats and species as evidenced by the current high rate of species extinctions across all taxa. Understanding the ecosystem- level effects of these extinctions – how they will impact trait diversity and composition and further alter ecosystem function – should be a research priority that could ultimately influence targeted conservation efforts and government policy.

Policy Impact
Background Reading


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