Humans have modified species distributions in most of the world's natural ecosystems. Body size variables is perhaps the most important trait of an organism, affecting all of its physiological and ecological processes and, therefore, fundamentally influencing its ability to survive and reproduce in different environments, including those that have been modified by human activities. Elucidating patterns in species responses to habitat fragmentation, one of the most several anthropogenic drivers of defaunation, is an important focus of ecology and conservation, but studies are often geographically restricted, taxonomically narrow or use indirect measures of species vulnerability. We will investigate (i) predictors of species presence after fragmentation using data from studies around one of the largest South American forests along the Brazilian coast and part of Argentina and Paraguay that included two vertebrate classes, birds and mammals, thus allowing direct inter-taxonomic comparison. We also will test the hypothesis that (ii) anthropogenic transformation of old-growth forest landscapes can result in significant intraspecific changes in body size of resident birds and mammals. By answering these questions, we aim to expand the knowledge on a cryptic, but crucial component of forest diversity and functioning, habitat fragmentation, in the hyper fragmented Atlantic rainforest, thereby providing a framework for better generalizations about how diverse wildlife will be differentially affected by such disturbance.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: