Green Conversations: Anthony Barnosky

April 29, 2009 "Heat Stroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming"
Anthony Barnosky, Professor, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California-Berkeley

Dr. Barnosky studies how environmental change--such as global warming--affect ecosystems and evolution. Current projects focus on biogeography and biodiversity of mammals.

From the Field to the Lab

Dr. Barnosky collects fossil mammals and associated geological information from caves and rock outcrops to study the effects of environmental change at the local level, and compiles databases analyzed with geographic information systems to scale from the local up to the regional picture.

Fossil communities are compared with modern ones in the same area to understand the natural range of variation in ecological systems, and to sort out the effects of human impacts.

These faunal patterns are compared with independently identified changes in the physical environment to test various evolutionary and biogeographic predictions.

Fossils, MIOMAP, and Global Climate Change

Several projects in Dr. Barnosky's lab use paleontology as the basis for understanding how global climate change affects species richness and other attributes of biotic communities, and to inform conservation biology.

One of those projects is MIOMAP, which seeks to understand how mammals of the western United States responded to environmental changes that range in time from 30 million years ago to the present, examining different scales of change from major mountain-building events to climate changes that are in process now.

Dr. Barnosky also investigates Pleistocene fauna in California and the Rocky Mountains to help predict biotic effects of global warming.

Future Research

Future work of Dr. Barnosky aims to build more seamless linkages between paleoecology and ecology in ways that are useful in predicting the effects of future global change.