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My PhD: The Conservation Biology of Shorebirds Essays

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The main direction of my PhD is to reveal why shorebirds are declining. I propose to use a combination of research methods (fieldwork, GIS, phylogenetic analyses), because learning these methods will be highly beneficial in my career as conservation biologist and academic.
I have only decided about 3 papers, each should be suitable for a chapter. The direction of further chapters needs to be discussed as I go along.

Chapter 1. Why are shorebirds declining? Comparative tests of intrinsic and extrinsic variables on threat status and population trends
Shorebird (sandpipers, plovers, gulls and allies) populations are declining globally, driving many species to the brink of extinction (Zockler et al. 2003). It is pointed out that the causes of vulnerability remain unclear to explain the variation to the risk of extinction in shorebirds (Thomas et al. 2006). According to Reynolds (2003), vulnerability is determinate by both the decline of species population and the reduction of their geographical range. These two forms of vulnerability are affected by species intrinsic biological traits, extrinsic human induced effects and stochastic factors (Purvis et al. 2005). These drivers of vulnerability have been the main hypotheses of recently studies to explain the causes and processes of extinction. This study use different intrinsic and extrinsic hypotheses that are thought to be the causes of rapid population declines in shorebirds in a phylogenetic framework. Specifically, the aim is to look at the influence of human-induced drivers (human population density, gross domestic product), species’ biology drivers (life history, migration) and their interactions in: 1) measures of vulnerability among the three main groups of shorebirds (gu...


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...R & Collen, B. 2005. Correlates of extinction risk: phylogeny, biology, threat and scale. In: Phylogeny and Conservation (eds. A. Purvis, J.L. Gittleman and T. Brooks), pp 295-316. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Reynolds, JD. 2003. Life histories and extinction risk. In: Macroecology (eds. TM Blackburn & KJ Gaston), pp 195-217. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Székely T., I.C. Cuthill and J. Kis. 1999.Brood desertion in Kentish plover: sex differences in remating opportunities. Behavioral Ecology 10: 185-190.

Thomas G. H., R. B. Lanctot & T. Szekely. 2006. Can intrinsic factors explain population declines in North American breeding shorebirds? A comparative analysis. Animal Conservation 9: 252 – 258.

Zockler, C., Delany, S. & Hagemeijer W. 2003. Wader populations are declining- how will we elucidate the reasons? Wader Study Group Bull. 100: 202-211.


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