Key research questions
The consequences of environmental change on biodiversity are commonly studied by focusing on taxonomic units in space and time. However, focusing on number and abundance of species is not an ideal metric for biodiversity because species that go extinct can be replaced by others with similar traits thus substituting for the lost functions and services. Waterbirds play key functional roles in many aquatic ecosystems, including seed dispersal, ecosystem engineering, nutrient transport, and community shaping. The main goal of this project is to investigate the effects of environmental changes on waterbird trait diversity, community structure and ecosystem services in tropical coastal wetlands.
More specifically, we plan to identify the most important environmental variables influencing waterbird trait diversity and community structure and to develop an individual-based model (IBM) to estimate the impacts of changes in trait composition and population abundances on the ecosystem services provided by common waterbird species. The results produced with this project will be instrumental in the development of management strategies for the conservation of natural resources in tropical coastal wetlands.
Expected outcomes include: (1) a comprehensive database of novel information on waterbird functional traits, ecosystem services, and habitat characteristics, (2) a new IBM for studying trends in waterbird trait compositions under changing habitats and (3) the publication of at least three high-quality peer-reviewed articles.
Dr. Ana Petry (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)
Prof. Moustapha Fall (African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Senegal)
Adam Ceesay (Wetlands International Africa)