Aura Barria
Postdoctoral Fellow

Marine Evolutionary and Eco-Physiology Lab
Université du Québec à Rimouski
Département de Biologie, Chimie et Géographie

Supervised by:
Piero Calosi (UQAR)
Dominique Gravel (U Sherbrooke)

Estimating how changes in ecological interactions can lead to extinction cascades under ongoing environmental changes

In order to conserve high levels of taxonomic and functional biodiversity, we require a broader framework to understand extinctions, incorporating the mechanisms that may exacerbate species losses in a time of accelerated environmental changes. Species are embedded in complex interaction networks, through which the loss of one species (Primary extinction) can trigger the disappearance of other species (Secondary extinction). When a primary extinction affects a pivotal species, this loss can be followed by the loss of multiple and interdependent species (Extinction Cascades). Current methodologies do not account for secondary extinctions and therefore may underestimate global extinction rates. The main objective of my research is to understand how cascades are triggered by abiotic changes and fostered by different ecological interactions, and to develop a methodology to document species extinctions, accounting for physiological vulnerability to environmental changes and changes in biotic interactions.