Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 4:00pm
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Geological Lecture Hall (100), 24 Oxford St., Cambridge

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

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 hosts four world experts in biodiversity conservation for a panel discussion on the multidimensionality of biological diversity, whether the loss of evolutionary history diversity reduces our options in an uncertain future, and how conservation efforts can and must be triaged.


SANDRA DIAZ, Professor of Community and Ecosystems Ecology, Córdoba National University (Argentina) and Senior Principal Researcher, Argentine National Research Council

MICHAEL DONOGHUE, Sterling Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Botany Peabody Museum, Yale University

KATE JONES, Professor of Ecology and Biodiversity and Director, Biodiversity Modelling Research Group, Centre for Biodiversity and Environmental Research (CBER), University College London

ANA RODRIGUES, Senior Researcher, The French National Center for Scientific Research

Moderated by: 

JONATHAN DAVIES, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, McGill University 

- Reception to follow in HUCE, located at 26 Oxford St., MCZ, 4th Floor, Cambridge - 

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.

Contact Name: 

Laura Hanrahan

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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