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Understanding extinction risk in the Anthropocene

School of Biological Sciences

Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

We live in a humanized world in which even the most remote areas have been affected by the actions of our species. Human impacts have caused a widespread loss of biodiversity, to the point that we have likely entered the sixth mass extinction event on Earth, the first primarily caused by humans. Understanding how diverse human impacts are affecting the broad diversity of species is key to promote proactive and effective conservation, which requires identification and targeting of the worst threats and the most sensitive species. This project seeks to reveal global scale (macroecological) patterns in extinction risk of vertebrate species exploring questions like: 1) What traits (e.g., body size, reproductive rates) characterize the most sensitive species? 2) What are the most dangerous threats (e.g., habitat loss, climate change, introduction of invasive species)? 3) How do traits influence sensitivity to different threats? Depending on student interest and expertise, these questions could be explored at regional and/or local scale to address specific conservation challenges.

This project offers an opportunity to work on pressing and large-scale conservation questions using big databases and applying diverse modelling approaches; thus, providing an opportunity to develop very transferable skills. The expected outcomes included publications in the scientific literature as well as the potential to engage with policy makers and managers to use the research findings in conservation legislation and practice.

The supervisor is a lecturer at the University of Reading with expertise in the topic and very interested in mentoring motivated and passionate students (more on Dr. Manuela Gonzalez Suarez can be found on her personal website:

Funding Notes

Self-funded candidates only


Santini, L; González-Suárez, M; Rondinini, C; Di Marco, M (2017) Shifting baseline in macroecology? Unraveling the influence of human impact on mammalian body mass Diversity and Distributions in press

Olalla-Tárraga, MA; González-Suárez, M; Bernardo-Madrid, R; Revilla, E; Villalobos, F (2017) Contrasting evidence of phylogenetic trophic niche conservatism in mammals worldwide Journal of Biogeography 44: 99–110. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12823

Lucas, PM*; González-Suárez, M; Revilla, E (2016) Toward multifactorial null models of range contraction in terrestrial vertebrates. Ecography 39: 1100–1108. DOI: 10.1111/ecog.01819

Polaina, E*; González-Suárez, M; Revilla, E (2015) Socioeconomic predictors of global mammalian conservation status. Ecosphere 6:art146. DOI: 10.1890/ES14-00505.1

González-Suárez, M; Bacher, S; Jeschke, J.M. (2015) Intraspecific trait variation is correlated with establishment success of alien mammals. The American Naturalist 185:737-746 DOI: 10.1086/681105

González-Suárez, M; Revilla, E (2014). Generalized drivers in the mammalian endangerment process. PLoS ONE 9: e90292. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0090292

González-Suárez, M; Gómez*, A, Revilla, E (2013) Which intrinsic traits predict vulnerability to extinction depends on the actual threatening processes. Ecosphere 4:art76. DOI: 10.1890/ES12-00380.1

González-Suárez, M; Revilla, E (2013) Variability in life-history and ecological traits is a buffer against extinction in mammals. Ecology letters 16: 241-252. DOI: 10.1111/ele.12035

González-Suárez, M; Lucas*, P.M; Revilla, E (2012) Biases in comparative analyses of extinction risk:mind the gap. Journal of Animal Ecology, 81: 1211–1222. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2012.01999.x

*Indicates supervised postgraduate students

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