Video

April 27, 2017

Climate Week: "Human Imprints on the Tree of Life: Using Evolutionary History to Understand What is Being Lost and What to Save"

Climate Week: "Human Imprints on the Tree of Life: Using Evolutionary History to Understand What is Being Lost and What to Save"

Thursday, April 27 - "Human Imprints on the Tree of Life: Using Evolutionary History to Understand What is Being Lost, and What to Save,"

Sandra Diaz, Córdoba National University (Argentina) and Argentine National Research Council; Michael Donoghue, Yale University; Kate Jones, University College London; Ana Rodrigues, The French National Center for Scientific Research; and moderated by Jonathan Davies, McGill University

Climate change, habitat loss, and overexploitation are driving species declines and extinctions across the globe. With species extinctions, we lose a leaf from the Tree-of-Life. When extinctions are many, we can lose entire branches. The branches of the Tree-of-Life represent many millions of years of evolutionary history. The loss of evolutionary history provides a resonant symbol of the current biodiversity crisis, but is it important?

The Harvard University Center for the Environment presents: "Human Imprints on the Tree of Life: Using Evolutionary History to Understand What is Being Lost, and What to Save," a panel discussion featuring Sandra Diaz, Córdoba National University (Argentina) and Argentine National Research Council; Michael Donoghue, Yale University; Kate Jones, University College London; Ana Rodrigues, The French National Center for Scientific Research; and moderated by Jonathan Davies, McGill University, as part of the Ecological Systems in the Anthropocene Seminar Series.

About the Series: Since the retreat of glaciers poleward over 10,000 years ago, humans have left an ever increasing fingerprint on ecological systems across the globe. The environment is now dominated by people—approximately 1/3 of land area has been transformed for human use and 1/4 of global productivity diverted to human consumption. While concepts such as wilderness attempt to escape this reality, there is virtually no habitat on earth devoid of some sign of humans influence on the globe—be it chemical, thermal, or a missing or introduced species. Today, this imprint is so pronounced that scientists are actively debating naming a new geological epoch demarcated by the sign of humans on the earth system itself: the Anthropocene. In the shadow of this debate, the HUCE seminar series "Ecological Systems in the Anthropocene" will examine the future of social-environmental systems in a globe heavily impacted by humans. Each year the series will present a set of speakers and events (e.g., seminars, panels, debates) focused on one perspective under this theme. This series is organized by Elizabeth Wolkovich, Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Faculty Fellow at the Arnold Arboretum.

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

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