Ecological Systems in the Anthropocene

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.


Wednesday, November 29 - WATCH VIDEO

"Hope or Despair: Communicating an Uncertain Future"

With panelists NIKHIL ADVANI, Lead Specialist, Climate, Communities and Biodiversity, World Wildlife Fund; NANCY KNOWLTON, Sant Chair for Marine Science, Smithsonian Institution; DAVID WALLACE-WELLS, Author of “The Uninhabitable Earth,” New York Magazine; CAM WEBB, Research Affiliate, University of Alaska, Fairbanks; and moderated by ELIZABETH WOLKOVICH, Assistant Professor, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and Faculty Fellow, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University. 

Thursday, April 27 - WATCH VIDEO

"Human Imprints on the Tree of Life: Using evolutionary history to understand what is being lost, and what to save"

With panelists SANDRA DIAZ, Professor of Community and Ecosystems Ecology, Córdoba National University (Argentina) and Senior Principal Researcher, Argentine National Research Council; KATE JONES, Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity and Director, Biodiversity Modelling Research Group, Centre for Biodiversity and Environmental Research (CBER), University College London; MICHAEL DONOGHUE, Sterling Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Botany Peabody Museum, Yale University; and ANA RODRIGUES, Senior Researcher, The French National Center for Scientific Research.

Wednesday, February 22 - WATCH VIDEO

“Poverty Traps, Resilience, and Coupled Human-Natural Systems”

CHRISTOPHER B. BARRETT, Deputy Dean and Dean of Academic Affairs, College of Business; Stephen B. & Janice G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management and International Professor of Agriculture, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; Faculty Fellow, David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University

Thursday, October 27 - WATCH VIDEO

"Can Conservation Biology Survive the Anthropocene?"

With panelists JON HOEKSTRA, Executive Director, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust; PETER KAREIVA, Director, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA; and M. SANJAYAN, Executive Vice President and Senior Scientist, Conservation International.

Moderated by ELIZABETH WOLKOVICH, Assistant Professor, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Faculty Fellow, Arnold Arboretum.

Thursday, April 21 - WATCH VIDEO

"Novel Climate-Novel Ecosystems: Effects of directional changes in precipitation amount and variability" 

OSVALDO SALA, Julie A. Wrigley Chair and Foundation Professor, School of Life Sciences and School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Wednesday, March 30 - WATCH VIDEO

"Ecological Novelty, Old and New: Conservation in a post-normal world."

STEPHEN JACKSON, Director of Southwest Climate Science Center, University of Arizona

Wednesday, February 3 - WATCH VIDEO

"Uncharted Waters? Novel ecosystems in the marine environment"

With panelists JEREMY JACKSON, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, and Ritter Professor of Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Senior Scientist, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute; TREVOR BRANCH, Associate Professor, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington; and JOHN PANDOLFI, ARC Professorial Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Australia.

Moderated By: MARY O'CONNOR, Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology and Associate Director, Biodiversity Research Centre, University of British Columbia

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