Through Arthropod Eyes: Using life-cycle knowledge to improve conservation success –Dr. Toos van Noordwijk, Radboud University Nijmegen
Over the past century, a multitude of anthropogenic stressors has led to large-scale biodiversity declines. Designing conservation strategies that address these issues, requires thorough understanding of the mechanisms shaping biodiversity. Arthropods form a particularly diverse species group, which performs a multitude of ecosystem services. However, the requirements of many arthropod species are still poorly understood. Species’ traits have been proposed to provide such understanding. Traits have generally been used as independent indicators of a species’ performance. However, an individual’s fitness is determined by the combined effect of all its traits. Therefore, it is important to evaluate a species’ entire life-cycle in a coherent way, instead of analysing single traits. A fruitful way to do this is to view the environment ‘through an arthropod’s eyes’. Analysing a species’ life-cycle and comparing each stage against the environment in which it occurs, highlights both the challenges that must be overcome and to what extent the species has trait attributes to do so. Comparing life-cycles of different species and rigorously testing the hypotheses derived from this analysis, greatly improves understanding of the mechanisms shaping local biodiversity. Such understanding also helps to integrate the requirements of different taxonomic groups, paving the way for successful ecosystem conservation.
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