We work at the interface between the disciplines of conservation, biogeography and macroecology, and in particular within the newly emerging sub-discipline of conservation biogeography. This initiative was newly established in August 2010, building on more than a decade of prior work by members of the School's Biodiversity research group.
Within the University of Oxford, we collaborate with other members of the Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Conservation research cluster in the School of Geography and the Environment, and as a part of the Biodiversity Institute of Oxford (BIO).
Conservation biogeography is the application of biogeographical principles, theories, and analyses - those concerned with the distributional dynamics of taxa individually and collectively - to problems concerning the conservation of biodiversity. In broad terms conservation biogeography is concerned with pattern and process over large extents of space (and time), and our interests within this field are exemplified by past and present projects and publications including:
Key challenges within the field
- Whittaker, R.J., Araújo, M.B., Jepson, P., Ladle, R.J., Watson, J.E.M. and Willis, K.J. (2005) Conservation Biogeography: assessment and prospect. Diversity and Distributions, 11(1): 3-23.
- Ladle, R.J. and Whittaker, R.J. (eds.) (2011) Conservation Biogeography. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford. 320 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4443-3503-3.
The application of Citizen Science
- Devictor, V., Whittaker, R.J. and Beltrame, C. (2010) Beyond scarcity: citizen science programmes as useful tools for conservation biogeography. Diversity and Distributions, 16(3): 354-362.
- Frangou, A., Ladle, R.J., Malhado, A.C.M. and Whittaker, R.J. (2010) Wildlife in a warming world. A World of Science, 8: 2-9.
Extinction debt on oceanic islands
- Triantis, K.A., Borges, P.A.V., Ladle, R.J., Hortal, J., Cardoso, P., Gaspar, C., Dinis, F., Mendonça, E., Silveira, L.M.A., Gabriel, R., Melo, C., Santos, A.M.C., Amorim, I.R., Ribeiro, S., Serrano, A.R.M., Quartau, J.A. and Whittaker, R.J. (in press, 2010) Extinction debt on oceanic islands. Ecography, 33(2): 285-294.
Habitat fragmentation effects within large landmasses
- Rigal, F., Whittaker, R.J., Triantis, K.A. and Borges, P.A.V. (2013) Integration of non-indigenous species within the interspecific abundance-occupancy relationship. Acta Oecologica, 48: 69-75.
- Watson, J.E.M., Watson, A.W.T., Fischer, J., Ingram, J.C. and Whittaker, R.J. (2009) Using nestedness and species-accumulation analyses to strengthen a conservation plan for littoral forest birds in south-eastern Madagascar. International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, 1(3): 67-80.
Modelling species and system responses
Species responses to climate change
Amphibian distributions in fragmented landscapes in Mexico
Macroecology is the analysis of emergent outcomes of statistical properties of ecological and/or biogeographical data sets.
- Fisher, J.B., Whittaker, R.J. and Malhi, Y. (2011) ET come home: potential evapotranspiration in geographical ecology. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 20(1): 1-18.
- Whittaker, R.J. (2010) Meta-analyses and mega-mistakes: calling time on meta-analysis of the species richness-productivity relationship. Ecology, 91: 2522-2533.
- Whittaker, R.J, Nogués-Bravo, D. and Araújo, M.B. (2007) Geographic gradients of species richness: a test of the water-energy conjecture of Hawkins et al. (2003) Using European data for five taxa. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 16(1): 76-89.
- Willis, K.J., Kleczkowski, A., New, M. and Whittaker, R.J. (2007) Testing the impact of climate variability on European plant diversity: 320,000 years of water-energy dynamics and its long-term influence on plant taxonomic richness. Ecology Letters, 10(8): 673-679.
- Malhado, A.C.M., Whittaker, R.J., Malhi, Y., Ladle, R.J., ter Steege, H., Phillips, O., Aragão, L.E.O.C., Baker, T.R., Arroyo, L., Almeida, S., Higuchi, N., Killeen, T.J., Monteagudo, A., Pitman, N.C.A., Prieto, A., Salomão, R.P., Vásquez-Martínez, R., Laurance, W.F. and Ramírez-Angulo, H. (2010) Are compound leaves an adaptation to seasonal drought or to rapid growth? Evidence from the Amazon rain forest. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 19(6): 852-862.
- Whittaker, R.J. (2010) In the Dragon's den: a response to the meta-analysis forum contributions. Ecology, 91: 2568-2571.
- Cameron, R.A.D., Triantis, K.A., Parent, C.E., Guilhaumon, F., Alonso, M.R., Ibáñez, M., de Frias Martins, A.M., Ladle, R.J. and Whittaker, R.J. (2013) Snails on oceanic islands: testing the general dynamic model of oceanic island biogeography using linear mixed effect models. Journal of Biogeography, 40: 117-130.
- Whittaker, R.J., Triantis, K.A. and Ladle, R.J. (2010) A general dynamic theory of oceanic island biogeography: extending the MacArthur-Wilson theory to accommodate the rise and fall of volcanic islands. In, Losos, J.B. and Ricklefs, R.E. (eds.) The Theory of Island Biogeography Revisited. Princeton University Press, pp. 88-115.
- Whittaker, R.J., Triantis, K.A. and Ladle, R.J. (2008) A general dynamic theory of oceanic island biogeography. Journal of Biogeography, 35: 977-994.
- Santos, A.M.C., Whittaker, R.J., Triantis, K.A., Borges, P.A.V., Jones, O.R., Quicke, D.L.J. and Hortal, J. (2010) Are species-area relationships from entire archipelagos congruent with those of their constituent islands? Global Ecology and Biogeography, 19(4): 527-540.
- Meijer, S.S., Whittaker, R.J. and Borges, P.A.V. (2010) The effects of land-use change on arthropod richness and abundance on Santa Maria Island (Azores): unmanaged plantations favour endemic beetles. Journal of Insect Conservation, 19(9): 2469-2484.
- Matthews, T.J., Whittaker, R.J. and Borges, P.A.V. (in press) Multimodal species abundance distributions: a deconstruction approach reveals the processes behind the pattern. Oikos, in press.
- Rigal, F., Whittaker, R.J., Triantis, K.A. and Borges, P.A.V. (2013) Integration of nonindigenous species within the interspecific abundance-occupancy relationship. Acta Oecologica, 48, 69-75.
- Triantis, K.A., Guilhaumon, F. and Whittaker, R.J. (2012) The island species-area relationship: biology and statistics. Journal of Biogeography, 39: 215-231.
Biogeography is the study at all scales of analysis of the distribution of life across space, and how, through time, it has changed. Our focus is principally on ecological biogeography, much of it now as applied to problems within conservation science, but we also maintain other strands of research within biogeography:
- Shilton, L.A. and Whittaker, R.J. (2010) The role of pteropodid bats (Megachiroptera) in re-establishing tropical forests on Krakatau. In, Fleming, T.H. and Racey, P.A. (eds.) Island Bats: Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 176-215.
- Whittaker, R.J., Field, R. and Partomihardjo, T. (2000) How to go extinct: lessons from the lost plants of Krakatau. Journal of Biogeography, 27(5): 1049-1064.
- Nogué, S., de Nascimento, L. Fernández-Palacios, J.M., Whittaker, R.J. and Willis, K.J. (2013) The ancient relict forests of La Gomera, Canary Islands, and their sensitivity to human and climate change. Journal of Ecology, 101: 368-377.
- Nascimento, L., Willis, K.J., Fernández-Palacios, J.M., Criado, C., and Whittaker, R.J. (2009) The long-term ecology of the lost forest of La Laguna, Tenerife (Canary Islands). Journal of Biogeography, 36(3): 499-514.
- Fernández-Palacios, J.M., de Nascimento, L., Otto, R., Delgado, J.D., García-del-Rey, E. Arévalo, J.R. and Whittaker, R.J. (2011) A reconstruction of Palaeo-Macaronesia, with particular reference to the long-term biogeography of the Atlantic island laurel forests. Journal of Biogeography, 38(2): 226-246.
- Holt, B.G. Lessard, J-P., Borregaard, M.K., Fritz, S.A., Araújo, M.B., Dimitrov, D., Fabre, P-H., Graham, C.H., Graves, G.R., Jønsson, K.A., Nogués-Bravo, D., Wang, Z., Whittaker, R.J., Fjeldså, J. and Rahbek, C. (2013a) An update of Wallace's zoogeographic regions of the world. Science, 339: 74-77.
- Malhado, C.M., Malhi, Y., Whittaker, R.J., Ladle, R.J., ter Steege, H., Fabré, N.N., Phillips, O., Laurance, W.F., Aragão, L.E.O.C., Pitman, N.C.A., Ramírez-Angulo, H. and Malhado, C.H.M. (2012) Drip-tips are associated with intensity of precipitation in the Amazon rain forest. Biotropica, 44: 728-737.
- Malhado, A.C.M., Ladle, R.J., Whittaker, R.J., Neto, J.A.O., Malhi, Y. and ter Steege, H. (2013) The ecological biogeography of Amazonia. Frontiers of Biogeography, 5: 103-112.
- Whittaker, R.J., Riddle, B.R., Hawkins, B.A. and Ladle, R.J. (2013) The geographical distribution of life and the problem of regionalization: 100 years after Alfred Russel Wallace. Journal of Biogeography, 40.