Lara-Sophie Dey, PHD student from Germany, won the CETAF E-SCoRe 2023. Here you can find something more about her success.
Here’s an abstract of her study on the Speckled Buzzing Grasshoppers we’ll be presenting during our 54th General Assembly in Vienna at the end of November.
By Laura-Sophie Dey
Human-induced ecological and climatic changes have led to the decline and even local extinction of many formerly widely distributed temperate and cold-adapted species. Determining the exact causes of this decline remains difficult. Bryodemella tuberculata was a widely distributed orthopteran species before the mid-19th century. Since then, many European populations have suffered drastic declines and are now considered extinct or critically endangered. We used ecological niche modelling based on a large dataset of extant and extinct occurrence data to investigate whether poor climatic suitability in the periphery of its global range was a possible cause of the local extinction of the European populations of B. tuberculata. We also used population genetics based on the COI marker to estimate and compare the genetic diversity of extant populations. We found that Europe still provides highly suitable habitats close to the climatic optimum, contradicting the assumption of climate change as major driver of this decline. Instead, changes in land-cover and other anthropogenic modifications of the habitats at the local scale seem to be the major reasons for local extinctions. Genetic analysis suggests Central Asia as center of diversity with a stable population size, whereas the effective sizes of the remaining European populations are decreasing. We found European genetic lineages nested within Central Asian lineages, suggesting a Central Asian source distribution area. Our results suggest that the declining European populations represent relics of a formerly wider distribution, which was fragmented by changes in land-use. These relics are now threatened by limited connectivity and small effective population sizes. Specific conservation actions, such as the restoration of former or potential new habitats, and translocation of individuals from extant populations to these restored sites may help slow, stall, or even revert the extinction process.