Student Profile: Geoff Gallice
Academic Advisor: Dr. Keith Willmott
Taking a pioneering step in the realm of macroecology and conservation of Neotropical butterflies, Geoff Gallice is currently constructing predicted range maps for butterflies of eastern Ecuador. Geoff's newly begun project is grounded in one of the general rules of ecology: a positive relationship exists between abundance and geographic range-size. This rule has been documented in a wide variety of species and across many biogeographic regions. Geoff notes, "In particular, the majority of studies have focused on vertebrates of temperate regions, whereas global biodiversity is concentrated among tropical invertebrates." He is planning a field trip to Ecuador later this year in order to collect abundance and other ecological data. "My goal," he explains, "is to examine the abundance-distribution relationship for the first time in Neotropical butterflies."
To date, according to Geoff, no studies of the abundance-distribution relationship have involved Neotropical arthropods, where most of the world's biodiversity is found. Additionally, 6,000 of the world's 17,000 butterfly species can be found in the tropical Andes, an area facing extreme pressure from habitat loss. A rapid assessment of the species and areas in need of protection is urgently needed, but the necessary data are unavailable for most species. Geoff Gallice, currently a student, is seeking to conduct research professionally.