Luca Santini

Luca Santini
Sapienza University of Rome | la sapienza · Department of Biology and Biotechnology "Charles Darwin" BBCD

PhD

About

113
Publications
67,326
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
3,832
Citations
Introduction
Most of my research lies at the interface between macroecology, biogeography, global change biology and large-scale conservation. Most of my experience is on terrestrial vertebrates, especially mammals, but I'm mostly interested in processes rather than taxonomic groups. I serve as Senior Editor for Diversity & Distributions. More on me on http://lucasantini.com/
Additional affiliations
February 2021 - present
Sapienza University of Rome
Position
  • Researcher
December 2019 - January 2021
Italian National Research Council
Position
  • Researcher
August 2016 - December 2019
Radboud University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
October 2008 - October 2010
Sapienza University of Rome
Field of study
  • Nature conservation
October 2004 - July 2008
Sapienza University of Rome
Field of study
  • Natural Science

Publications

Publications (113)
Article
Full-text available
Understanding how species respond to climate change is key to informing vulnerability assessments and designing effective conservation strategies, yet research efforts on wildlife responses to climate change fail to deliver a representative overview due to inherent biases. Bats are a species‐rich, globally distributed group of organisms that are th...
Preprint
Full-text available
While forest productivity and biodiversity are expected to be correlated, prioritizing either forest productivity or biodiversity can result in different management. Spatial quantification of the congruence between areas suitable for either one can inform planning. Here we quantify the relationship between net primary productivity of European fores...
Preprint
Trophic rewilding is proposed as an effective approach to tackle biodiversity loss by restoring ecosystem dynamics through the reintroduction of large-bodied animals. Currently, evidence on the effectiveness of reintroduction programs is sparse and difficult to generalize. To better understand the ecological consequences of trophic rewilding, we si...
Article
Full-text available
Biodiversity is severely threatened by habitat destruction. As a consquence of habitat destruction, the remaining habitat becomes more fragmented. This results in time-lagged population extirpations in remaining fragments when these are too small to support populations in the long term. If these time-lagged effects are ignored, the long-term impact...
Preprint
Climate change represents a threat to narrow-ranged mountain species living in low-altitude massifs. We studied the disjunct Apennine population of Lasiommata petropolitana (Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae) in the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park. We quantified the altitudinal shifts undergone in the last decades (1964-2021) in the Alps and A...
Article
Full-text available
Population density is a key parameter in ecology and conservation, and estimates of population density are required for a wide variety of applications in fundamental and applied ecology. Yet, in terrestrial mammals these data are available for only a minority of species, and their availability is taxonomically and geographically biased. Here, we pr...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is predicted to drive geographical range shifts, leading to fluctuations in species richness (SR) worldwide. However, the effect of these changes on functional diversity (FD) remains unclear, in part because comprehensive species‐level trait data are generally lacking at global scales. Here, we use morphometric and ecological traits...
Article
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is central in biodiversity conservation, but insufficient resources hamper its long-term growth, updating, and consistency. Models or automated calculations can alleviate those challenges by providing standardised estimates required for assessments, or prioriti...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Climate change will likely modify the global distribution of biomes, but the magnitude of change is debated. Here, we followed a trait‐based, statistical approach to model the influence of climate change on the global distribution of biomes. Location Global. Methods We predicted the global distribution of plant community mean specific leaf ar...
Article
Full-text available
• Climate change is causing shifts in the distribution of many species and populations inhabiting mountain tops are particularly vulnerable to these threats because they are constrained in altitudinal shifts. Apennines are a relatively narrow and low mountain chain located in Southern Europe, which hosts many isolated populations of mountain specie...
Article
Full-text available
Human activities are altering the structure of ecosystems, compromising the benefits they provide to nature and people. Effective conservation actions and management under ongoing global change rely on a better understanding of socio-ecological patterns and processes across broad spatiotemporal scales. Both macroecology and conservation science con...
Article
Full-text available
The Living Planet Index (LPI) is a standardized indicator for tracking population trends through time. Due to its ability to aggregate many time series in a single metric, the LPI has been proposed as an indicator for the Convention on Biological Diversity’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Strategy. However, here we show that random population fluctu...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Mechanistic general ecosystem models are used to explore fundamental ecological dynamics and to assess possible consequences of anthropogenic and natural disturbances on ecosystems. The Madingley model is a mechanistic general ecosystem model (GEM) that simulates a coherent global ecosystem, consisting of photo-autotrophic and heterotrophic lif...
Article
Full-text available
As a source of emerging infectious diseases, wildlife assemblages (and related spatial patterns) must be quantitatively assessed to help identify high-risk locations. Previous assessments have largely focussed on the distributions of individual species; however, transmission dynamics are expected to depend on assemblage composition. Moreover, disea...
Article
Full-text available
The negative relationship between body size and population density in mammals is often interpreted as resulting from energetic constraints. In a global change scenario, however, this relationship might be expected to change, given the size- dependent nature of anthropogenic pressures and vulnerability to extinction. Here we test whether the size-de...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Forecasting changes in species distribution under future scenarios is one of the most prolific areas of application for species distribution models (SDMs). However, no consensus yet exists on the reliability of such models for drawing conclusions on species' distribution response to changing climate. In this study, we provide an overview of com...
Article
Full-text available
Island faunas can be characterized by gigantism in small animals and dwarfism in large animals, but the extent to which this so-called ‘island rule’ provides a general explanation for evolutionary trajectories on islands remains contentious. Here we use a phylogenetic meta-analysis to assess patterns and drivers of body size evolution across a glob...
Article
Full-text available
Aim The stress-gradient hypothesis (SGH) postulates that species interactions shift from negative to positive with increasing abiotic stress. Interactions between species are increasingly being recognized as important drivers of species distributions, but it is still unclear whether stress-induced changes in interactions affect continental-to-globa...
Article
Full-text available
Aim European grassland communities are highly diverse, but patterns and drivers of continental‐scale diversities remain elusive. This study analyses taxonomic and functional richness in European grasslands along continental‐scale temperature and precipitation gradients. Location Europe. Methods We quantified functional and taxonomic richness of 5...
Article
Full-text available
Aim The recent recovery of large carnivores in Europe has been explained as resulting from a decrease in human persecution driven by widespread rural land abandonment, paralleled by forest cover increase and the consequent increase in availability of shelter and prey. We investigated whether land cover and human population density changes are relat...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Our understanding of the biological strategies employed by species to cope with challenges posed by aridity is still limited. Despite being sensitive to water loss, bats successfully inhabit a wide range of arid lands. We here investigated how functional traits of bat assemblages vary along the global aridity gradient to identify traits that fa...
Article
1. The local abundance or population density of different organisms often varies widely. Understanding what determines this variation is an important, but not yet fully resolved question in ecology. Differences in population density are partly driven by variation in body size and diet among organisms. Here we propose that the size of an organism' b...
Article
Full-text available
The abundant-center hypothesis posits that species density should be highest in the center of the geographic range or climatic niche of a species, based on the idea that the center of either will be the area with the highest demographic performance (e.g., greater fecundity, survival, or carrying capacity). While intuitive, current support for the h...
Preprint
Full-text available
The negative relationship between body size and population density (SDR) in mammals is often interpreted as resulting from energetic constraints. In a global change scenario, however, this relationship might be expected to change, given the size-dependent nature of anthropogenic pressures and vulnerability to extinction. Here we test whether the SD...
Article
Full-text available
Global landscapes are changing due to human activities with consequences for both biodiversity and ecosystems. For single species, terrestrial mammal population densities have shown mixed responses to human pressure, with both increasing and decreasing densities reported in the literature. How the impacts of human activities on mammal populations t...
Preprint
Full-text available
Island faunas can be characterized by gigantism in small animals and dwarfism in large animals, but the extent to which this so-called ‘island rule’ provides a general explanation for evolutionary trajectories on islands remains contentious. Here we use a phylogenetic meta-analysis to assess patterns and drivers of body size evolution across a glob...
Preprint
Full-text available
Aim Forecasting changes in species distribution under future scenarios is one of the most prolific areas of application for species distribution models (SDMs). However, no consensus yet exists on the reliability of such models for drawing conclusions on species distribution response to changing climate. In this study we provide an overview of commo...
Article
Full-text available
Large carnivores can exert top-down effects in ecosystems, but the size of these effects are largely unknown. Empirical investigation on the importance of large carnivores for ecosystem structure and functioning presents a number of challenges due to the large spatio-temporal scale and the complexity of such dynamics. Here, we applied a mechanistic...
Article
Full-text available
Species have been commonly hypothesized to have high population densities in geographic areas which correspond to either the centre of the species geographic range or climatic niche (abundant–centre hypothesis). However, there is mixed empirical support for this relationship, and little theoretical underpinning. We simulate a species spreading acro...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Predictions of plant traits over space and time are increasingly used to improve our understanding of plant community responses to global environmental change. A necessary step forward is to assess the reliability of global trait predictions. In this study, we predict community mean plant traits at the global scale and present a systematic eval...
Preprint
Full-text available
Species abundance is expected to decrease from the centre towards the edge of their ecological niches (abundant niche-centre hypothesis). Recently, Osorio-Olvera et al . (2020) reported strong support for the abundant niche-centre relationship in North American birds. We demonstrate here that methodological decisions strongly affected perceived sup...
Article
Full-text available
While the drivers of primate persistence in forest fragments have been often considered at the population level, the strategies to persist in these habitats have been little investigated at the individual or group level. Considering the rapid variation of fragment characteristics over time, longitudinal data on primates living in fragmented habitat...
Article
Full-text available
Primates worldwide are faced with increasing threats making them more vulnerable to extinction. Anthropogenic disturbances, such as habitat degradation and fragmentation , are among the main concerns, and in Madagascar, these issues have become widespread. As this situation continues to worsen, we sought to understand how fragmentation affects prim...
Article
Full-text available
Field ecologists and macroecologists often compete for the same grants and academic positions, with the former producing primary data that the latter generally use for model parameterization. Primary data are usually cited only in the supplementary materials, thereby not counting formally as citations, creating a system where field ecologists are r...
Article
Full-text available
Land use and hunting are 2 major pressures on biodiversity in the tropics. Yet, their combined impacts have not been systematically quantified at a large scale. We estimated the effects of both pressures on the distributions of 1884 tropical mammal species by integrating species' range maps, detailed land-use maps (1992 and 2015), species-specific...
Article
Full-text available
Elevation gradients correlate with changes in several environmental conditions and are known to be related to animal abundance. Animals in regions with a naturally limited extent of lowland rainforest are expected to have evolved adaptations to intermediate elevations that provided a stable environment during their evolution. Since the lowland rain...
Article
Anthropogenic land-use change causes substantial changes in local and global biodiversity. Rare and common species can differ in sensitivity to land-use change; rare species are expected to be affected more negatively. Rarity may be defined in terms of geographic range size, population density, or breadth of habitat requirements. How these 3 forms...
Preprint
Full-text available
AimField ecologists and macroecologists often compete for the same grants and academic positions, with the former producing original data that the latter generally use for model parameterization. Original data are usually cited only in the supplementary materials thereby not counting formally as citations, creating an unfair system where field ecol...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical forests are increasingly degraded by industrial logging, urbanization, agriculture, and infrastructure, with only 20% of the remaining area considered intact. However, this figure does not include other, more cryptic but pervasive forms of degradation, such as overhunting. Here, we quantified and mapped the spatial patterns of mammal defau...
Article
Full-text available
A long-standing hypothesis in biogeography is that a species’ abundance is highest at the centre of its geographical or environmental space and decreases toward the edges. Several studies tested this hypothesis and provided mixed results and overall weak support to the theory. Most studies, however, are affected by several limitations related to th...
Article
Full-text available
Urbanisation exposes wildlife to new challenging conditions and environmental pressures. Some mammalian species have adapted to these novel environments, but it remains unclear which characteristics allow them to persist. To address this question, we identified 190 mammals regularly recorded in urban settlements worldwide, and used phylogenetic pat...
Article
Full-text available
The IUCN Red List categories and criteria are the most widely used framework for assessing the relative extinction risk of species. The criteria are based on quantitative thresholds relating to the size, trends and structure of species’ distributions and populations. However, data on these parameters are sparse and uncertain for many species and un...
Poster
Full-text available
Santini et al. 2019. Applying habitat and population density models to land cover time series to inform IUCN Red List assessments. Conservation Biology doi: 10.1111/cobi.13279
Poster
Full-text available
Santini L., Pironon S., Maiorano L., Thuiller W. , 2018. Addressing common pitfalls does not provide more support to geographical and ecological abundant-centre hypotheses. Ecography 42: 1–10
Poster
Full-text available
Overhunting is a main driver of biodiversity loss in the tropics, yet there is virtually no information about the spatial variation of hunting-induced defaunation and the areas where impacts might be most severe. Here we: 1) Assess spatial patterns of mammal defaunation due to hunting pressure across the pantropical forest area. 2) Assess the deg...
Article
Full-text available
When functionally similar species co-occur, they are expected to differ in at least 1 niche axis to avoid competition. In bats, small differences in body size can influence ecology, potentially reducing niche overlap. We used yellow-shouldered bats (genus Sturnira) in Mexico as a model to investigate whether interspecific differences in body size i...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Although the effects of life history traits on population density have been investigated widely, how spatial environmental variation influences population density for a large range of organisms and at a broad spatial scale is poorly known. Filling this knowledge gap is crucial for global species management and conservation planning and to under...
Poster
Full-text available
Urbanization exposes wildlife to new challenging conditions and environmental pressures. Some mammalian species have adapted to these novel environments, but it remains unclear which characteristics allow them to persist. To address this question we identified 190 mammals regularly recorded in urban settlements worldwide, and used phylogenetic path...
Article
Full-text available
Motivation Population density is a key demographic parameter influencing many ecological processes, and macroecology has described both intra- and interspecific patterns of variation. Population density data are expensive to collect and contain many forms of noise and potential bias; these factors have impeded investigation of macroecological patte...
Article
Full-text available
The uneven representation of frugivorous mammals and birds across tropical regions-high in the New World, low in Madagascar and intermediate in Africa and Asia-represents a long-standing enigma in ecology. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain these differences but the ultimate drivers remain unclear. Here, we tested the hypothesis that...