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The Madeiran green bush-cricket (Psalmatophanes barretoi) is endemic to Madeira. According to the IUCN Red List, the species is vulnerable. The main threat to the species is the increasing frequency of wildfires on the island. Hence, in this project, the population and behaviour dynamics of the species from the wildfire effects will be studied based on field work, genetic and phenotypic measurements.
The objects of this project are:
1. To understand the relationship between the wildfires and the population trend of the species: I am examining whether wildfire events negatively affect the population trend and the distribution of the species. I expect that the distribution of the species is correlated with past fire events (i.e. the species is missing in areas with recent intensive fires). Furthermore, the abundance of the species is expected to be lower in areas with lower fire intensity than in areas without any fire events in recent years.
2. To understand the relationship between wildfire seasonality and the species: I will check whether the timing of wildfires is important, i.e. whether fire events in winter and spring affect survival of the species less than summer and autumn fires, as eggs may be protected in the ground.
3. To understand whether the strongly isolated populations of the Madeiran green bush-cricket are experiencing genetic bottlenecks reflected in genetic and phenotypic variation.
This knowledge will help to better understand the role of wildfires as a threat to this species and facilitate conservation action (e.g. prescribed burning in seasons with low vulnerability of the species).
A paper about the first hypothesis is in the link below.
Project 202524104 location - Portugal, Europe