Extinction and Resilience

Full Title

The death and life of biodiversity: modeling extinction and resilience on islands


Despite their small surface area, islands are critical repositories of global biodiversity, however, insular fossil records have revealed many instances of human-mediated extinctions in the Holocene. Understanding patterns of island extinction and survival is necessary for conservation planning for the future. In this Pursuit, we propose assembling a group of socio-environmental scientists to analyze and model the natural and human factors that determine the extinction and resilience of insular vertebrate fauna and leverage this understanding into metrics for use in conservation assessments. We focus on islands of the Caribbean because of the available archaeology, paleontology, and ecology datasets and the region’s geological diversity, which encompasses most major biogeographic varieties of island found worldwide. Therefore, the analyses and data integration of this Pursuit serve as templates for other less-studied archipelagos. This Pursuit will translate models of extinction dates, overlap between fauna and early human populations, and species distributions, into demographic predictions and structured threat assessments. These estimates will generate comparisons of extinction rates under varying regimes of human use and disturbance and demographic projections under alternative future scenarios. The main products resulting from the workshop are: 1) the first integrated database of radiometric dates of people and fauna across a geologically diverse archipelago, 2) a synthesis paper with model results identifying factors of extinction and resilience, and 3) a horizon scan pinpointing urgent data gaps and outstanding questions on how to conserve the vertebrate fauna of the Caribbean, with implications for sustaining biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides.

Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
Siobhán B. Cooke, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine
Liliana M. Dávalos, Stony Brook University
H. Resit Akçakaya, SUNY Stony Brook
Scott Fitzpatrick, University of Oregon
Christina Giovas, Simon Fraser University
Melissa Kemp, Univeristy of Texas, Austin, Department of Integrative Biology
Steve Latta, National Aviary
Yolanda Leon, Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo
Alexis Mychajliw, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Department of Rancho La Brea
Nathan Upham, Yale University
Angelo Soto-Centeno, Rutgers University
Matthew Charles Peros, Bishop's University
Maria Alejandra Nieves-Colon, National Laboratory for Genomics of Biodiversity (LANGEBIO-CINVESTAV)
Anna McPherran, Stony Brook University
Lazaro Vinola, University of Montana

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