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Validation and application of SDMs
Species Distribution Models have emerged as leading tools to study potential distributions and their environmental niches in a multitude of organisms. My work focused on the evaluation of existing tools (e.g. Rödder and Engler 2011, Engler & Rödder 2013, Filz et al. 2013a Fourcade et al. 2014) and their application to different organisms with a focus on avian systems. In particular we studied species ranges to quantify their range delimiting factors (Engler et al. 2013, 2014, Werner 2013), assess the effects on climate change (Ihlow et al. 2013), to understand niche evolution following domestication (Jacob et al. 2014), biological invasion (Stiels et al. 2011, 2015) or during the Quarternary (Ahmadzadeh et al. 2013a, Rödder et al. 2013), and to guide conservation actions (Rödder et al. 2010, Fourcade et al. 2013, Rödder et al. 2016).

Understanding connectivity
Next to quantify broad range patterns it is important to understand the small-scale processes that maintain species ranges on the long run and are core to species range dynamics. Functional connectivity is a key aspect in this regard which gained a lot of interest recently due to the emergence of the field of landscape genetics, powerful modeling tools, and the continuing miniaturization of tracking devices. My focus here is to combine different modeling tools such as SDMs with connectivity models together with genetic information to learn about the driving environmental factors affecting functional connectivity (Engler et al. 2014d, Dambach et al. 2016). In addition, I’m keen in communicating these novel tools to practitioners, e.g. in environmental planning to allow for more holistic assessments in the daily planning practice (Rödder et al. 2016) and raise concerns of currently applied conservation management (Filz et al. 2013b, Engler et al. 2014e).

Range dynamics in birds
Due to their great distributional and taxonomical resolution, birds are ideal model organisms to study range dynamic patterns and processes. Over the past years I studied the displacement of a contact zone of two sibling warbler species in Central Europe using modelling tools and population genetics (Engler et al. 2015, 2014a, 2013) as well as a bird population that recently colonized a remote island in the North Sea (Engler et al. 2014c, in prep). This falls together with my general high interest of watching birds in their natural habitat and protocolling remarkable observations (Engler 2014, Engler and Bußler 2013).

During my FWO funded PostDoc Fellowship, I’m now investigating range dynamics in East African White-eye taxa. This project involves the study of long-term eco-evolutionary histories alongside recent events of eco-evolutionary dynamics in the wake of anthropogenic pressures. Watch this space or follow me via Twitter (@engler_j) for updates.

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