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Title: Spatial patterns and impact of habitat change on the vertebrate diversity of north-western South America
Author: Cisneros-Heredia, Diego F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 2905
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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Over the past two centuries, humans have become a global force able to change natural ecosystems at rates previously unseen. Human-driven habitat change has been identified as the anthropogenic action having the most widespread, intense, and extensive impacts on biodiversity. However, there are grave gaps in our knowledge about geographic, temporal and taxonomic factors related with the impacts and trends of habitat change on biodiversity. The north-western region of South America is globally noteworthy for its unique and rich flora and fauna. Studies on the biological evolution and biogeography of South America have typically analysed highland and lowland regions separately. However, spatial biodiversity patterns are still little known, and have not been properly analysed to reflect the complexity and coherence of the region. The aim of this thesis is to improve knowledge on the spatial patterns of vertebrate diversity in the region, in order to provide information to evaluate impacts caused by habitat changes and to evaluate the efficiency of in-situ conservation initiatives to mitigate negative impacts. I generate evidence to understand the impacts caused by habitat changes on species richness, endemism and distribution of amphibians, reptiles and birds of north-western South America. As part of the results of this thesis, in Chapter 2, I present a coherent and robust definition of north-western South America, allowing the update and refinement of the boundaries and definitions of the region from a biogeographic standpoint. In Chapter 3, I produce an integrated and updated assessment of the species richness and distribution patterns of more than 3000 species of anuran amphibians, squamate reptiles and birds; including calculations and comparisons of species richness and endemism patterns for the most relevant supra-generic taxa of the studied tax and, an evaluation of the biogeographic regionalisation of the region based on the newly-generated data for the studied taxa through cladistics biogeographic methods. In Chapter 4, I review the literature regarding impacts of habitat change on amphibians, reptiles and birds of the tropical Andes, developing a systematic review and evidence synthesis. In Chapter 5, I generate evidence to understand the impacts caused by habitat changes on species richness and endemism of north-western South America by using a multi-taxonomic approach, including data from amphibians and reptiles. This chapter analyses a complex array of species with heterogeneous ecological characteristics and conservation status. The analysis includes updated data on amphibian diversity and provides for the first time a comprehensive evaluation of reptiles of the region. With these outputs, I evaluated the potential of natural protected areas, as in-situ conservation strategies in the region, to mitigate impacts of habitat change at all levels (geographic, ecological and taxonomic). In Chapter 6, I analyse the importance of habitat change as a factor that facilitates the establishment of non-native species. This study is based on information about the current status, invasiveness and potential impact of all non-native amphibians, reptiles and birds that have been reported in the Galapagos Islands.
Supervisor: Mulligan, Mark ; Chadwick, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available