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Trond Larsen

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

As a Fuller Postdoctoral Fellow supported by Princeton and World Wildlife Fund, I am developing science-based conservation strategies in the Andes-Amazon region using the ecologically important dung beetles as a model system.

I am addressing three conservation problems:

  1. How broadly are Amazonian species distributed across widespread terra firme forest? This information is critical for planning appropriate protected areas, but few data exist, especially for invertebrates.
  2. What are current and future impacts of changing land-use and illegal hunting associated with the developing interoceanic highway in Peru? How can we mitigate these impacts on biodiversity and maximize landscape connectivity?
  3. How is the synergistic influence of land-use and climate change likely to affect species along Andean elevational gradients? Montane species are among the most vulnerable to climate change, but little information exists for tropical ectotherms.

I completed my Ph.D., "Linking patterns, causes and functional consequences of changing biodiversity", at Princeton University in 2006. Since then, I worked as science director with the non-profit Friends of the Osa to conserve terrestrial and marine biodiversity of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. I have been a research associate with the Smithsonian Institution and the Amazon Conservation Association since 1998, conducting fieldwork in many tropical countries. Much of my research has focused on insects, although I am broadly interested in the diversity and conservation of tropical systems. I also enjoy wildlife photography (


Larsen, T.H. Testing local extinction mechanisms and explaining the high sensitivity of habitat specialists to disturbance: dung beetles rapidly lose and can't find forest fragments. In review

Larsen, T. H., A. Lopera, & A. Forsyth. 2008. Understanding trait-dependent community disassembly: dung beetles, density functions and forest fragmentation. Conservation Biology, in press (available online early)

Nichols, E., S. Spector, J. Louzada, T. H. Larsen, S. Amezquita, M. E. Favila. 2008. Review: Ecological functions and ecosystem services provided by Scarabaeinae dung beetles. Biological Conservation, 141(6):1461-1474

Nichols, E., T.H. Larsen, S. Spector, A. Davis, K. Vulinec, F. Escobar, & the Scarabaeinae Research Network. 2007. Global dung beetle response to tropical forest modification and fragmentation: A quantitative literature review and meta-analysis. Biological Conservation, 137(1): 1-19

Larsen, T.H., A. Lopera, & A. Forsyth. 2006. Extreme trophic and habitat specialization by Peruvian dung beetles. Coleopterist's Bulletin, 60(4): 315-324

Larsen, T.H., N. Williams, & C. Kremen. 2005. Extinction order and altered community structure rapidly disrupt ecosystem functioning. Ecology Letters, 8: 538-547 [Top ten cited articles over past three years in Ecology Letters]

Larsen, T.H. & A. Forsyth. 2005. Trap spacing and transect design for dung beetle biodiversity studies. Biotropica, 37(2): 322-325 [Top five cited articles in Biotropica for 2007]