Conservation Biology


MSc thesis

Alpine ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change, with a rate of warming being twice the average threatening communities specialised to harsh cold weather in addition to often having high endemism and few dispersal possibilities. With other pressures acting concomitantly, such as a changing agricultural paradigm causing the abandon of high-altitude pastures, this led to a clear upward shift in vegetation and some other insect taxa. However, little is known on how endotherms might have their distribution affected, as they are not bound to specific climatic zones but rather constrained by vital resources such as food and habitat features to survive and reproduce. It is thus necessary to understand the fine-scale mechanisms of habitat selection of a species to be able to do realistic projections of its future distribution under changing climatic conditions.

My master project focuses on the common but poorly known White-Winged Snowfinch Montifringilla nivalis (subs. nivalis). My aim is to investigate its foraging habitat selection during the breeding season on the whole Valais scale (western inner Swiss Alps). This should allow me to build a habitat suitability model relying on environmental variables as proxies of prey availability. This model will be tested first by cross-validation within Valais with data from 2015-2017, and subsequently by transferability to other mountains (Trentino in Italy and the Cantabrian Mountains in Spain).

Curriculum Vitae

Year Description
2014 - present Exchange at the University of New South Wales, Sydney
2012 - 2014 Bachelor of Science in Biology, University of Lausanne

Related work experiences

Year Description
Winter 2015
Volunteering for a study on the impact of herbivory versus predation on small mammal and reptile populations, Fowlers Gap, Australia
Summer 2014 Volunteering for a project exploring prey naïveté of threatened native Australian species (bilbies and bettongs) to introduced predators in order to improve their survival, Arid Recovery Reserve, Roxby Downs, Australia
Summer 2013
Volunteering for the protection of coral reefs and tropical mangrove forests, Ao Nang, Thailand