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Speaker: Professor Jane Hill, Department of Biology, University of York
Large areas of previously extensive tropical rainforest now exist as remnants scattered across inhospitable agricultural landscapes. Fragmentation usually reduces species richness of forest communities but richness is not always a good predictor of ecosystem functioning. In addition, fragmentation may be affecting forest regeneration success resulting in more profound consequences for biodiversity than fragmentation per se. Retaining forest fragments within agricultural landscapes is a mainstay of sustainability standards (e.g. RSPO), but the conservation value of fragments has been questioned. Our research shows that their effectiveness depends on the quality of forest they contain. Forest fragments may also provide important stepping-stone habitats allowing species within low-lying Protected Areas to track climate change and reach cooler locations at higher elevation.
Jane Hill is a professor of ecology at the University of York. She researches the ecological impacts of climate change and habitat fragmentation on biodiversity. She works mainly on animals, particularly insects, and her work is focussed on developing conservation methods to help species respond and adapt to climate change in modern agricultural landscapes. Much of this work is focussed on the Malaysian State of Sabah (Borneo).