Carmen Soria

I am Early Stage Researcher at the Global Mammal Assessment (GMA) based in Sapienza. My PhD degree aims to identify which life-history traits make species more sensitive to climate change, resulting in an improvement of Red List Assessments and optimization of conservation costs by directing research and protection efforts.  My main interests are conservation, life-history traits, climate change, evolutionary and behavioural ecology.

PhD project: Projected effect of global change on species’ change in extinction risk

Life-history traits are generally defined as those traits that are directly connected with fitness, such as fecundity, reproductive time and survival. A variety of studies have found that species displaying certain traits are more prone to extinction than others (Cardillo et al., 2008; Di Marco et al., 2014). Traits that are commonly associated with extinction risk are high body mass, long lifespan, reduced number of litters produced, and high specificity in habitat and diet. In addition, in the specific context of risk from climate change, the intrinsic characteristics of species considered are related to their ability to tolerate climatic changes or to adjust to them (e.g., ability to disperse, thermal tolerances; Pacifici et al., 2017). Therefore, identifying the biological traits that make a species more sensitive to climate change could help optimizing conservation action by directing efforts in research and habitat protection to those species that are most likely to be threatened by climate change. Mammals and birds are ideal taxonomic groups to investigate this relationship, since they have large databases of trait information already available (Jones et al. 2009, Tacutu et al. 2013, Wilman et al. 2014).

This project will aim at identifying those life-history traits that are related to higher sensitivity to climate change. These traits will be then grouped into archetypes, and then combined with spatially explicit climatic data. Some species may fall into more than one group, i.e. may respond differently in different parts of their range. These data will be used to identify species that are likely to become at risk in the near future, if certain environmental conditions will occur, thus helping future Red List assessments. The final output of this project will be the projection of plausible future changes in extinction risk based on changes in drivers (climate and land use change).

Related references

  • Butchart, SHM, et al. Global biodiversity: indicators of recent declines. Science 328.5982 (2010): 1164-1168.
  • Cardillo, M, et al. The predictability of extinction: biological and external correlates of decline in mammals. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 275.1641 (2008): 1441-1448.
  • Di Marco, M, et al. Drivers of extinction risk in African mammals: the interplay of distribution state, human pressure, conservation response and species biology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 369.1643 (2014): 20130198.
  • Jones, KE., et al. PanTHERIA: a species‐level database of life history, ecology, and geography of extant and recently extinct mammals. Ecology 90.9 (2009): 2648-2648.
  • Pacifici, M, et al. Species' traits influenced their response to recent climate change. Nature Climate Change 7.3 (2017): 205-208.
  • Rondinini, C, et al. Global habitat suitability models of terrestrial mammals. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 366.1578 (2011): 2633-2641.
  • Tacutu, R, et al. Human Ageing Genomic Resources: integrated databases and tools for the biology and genetics of ageing. Nucleic acids research 41.D1 (2012): D1027-D1033.
  • Wilman, H, et al. EltonTraits 1.0: Species‐level foraging attributes of the world's birds and mammals. Ecology 95.7 (2014): 2027-2027.

 Academic Host

Sapienza Università di Roma
Rome, Italy
Carlo Rondinini
Michela Pacifici


BirdLife International
Cambridge, UK
Stu Butchart