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Image courtesy of Matthew Evans.
Organised by Professor Matthew Evans, Professor Tim Benton and Professor Ken Norris
Rigorous methods are required to enable robust predictions to be made about the future state of the biological world under conditions of environmental change. The development of robust process-based approaches to modelling ecological systems, to provide these predictions, will be a challenging task. A well-defined research agenda is required so that new approaches can be brought to bear, with some urgency, onto questions of societal need. Input is required from diverse communities to better understand the nature of the challenges and the types of questions both for which society needs answers and for which data exists to provide these answers.
Programme available to download here (PDF).
Biographies and audio recordings are available below.
Professor Matthew Evans, University of Exeter, UKOrganiser
Matthew Evans is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus. Research interests are now in mainly in conservation and in particular in understanding how we can predict the impact of environmental change on the natural world. This represents a considerable shift from an early interest in mate choice and sexual selection, which included the first theoretical and empirical examinations of the aerodynamics of birds’ tails and the first experimental investigations of the effects of endocrine hormones on the immune system and on signalling traits. Matthew was a founder member of the School of Biosciences on Exeter’s Cornwall Campus and the Director of the Centre of Ecology and Conservation until 2007, and was Provost of the Campus until 2009.
Professor Tim Benton, University of Leeds, UK Organiser
Professor Benton’s core research interests are in understanding how ecological systems respond to environmental change. Much of his work has revolved around in-depth understanding of how variation in the environment propagates through changes in individuals life-histories into changes in population and evolutionary dynamics. This has involved various types of modelling inspired by (and fitted to) empirical data generated by an empirical model system: a soil mite cultured in the laboratory. Ideas generated from this understanding have increasingly been transported to other systems, and most notably, Professor Benton has been involved in much research on understanding how the agricultural landscapes impact upon biodiversity and ecosystem services. The increasing pressure on food production systems, and therefore ecology, has driven a major interest in global food security and predicting how we can both produce food and conserve ecosystem services is a very active area for him. Professor Benton is currently Pro-Dean for Research in Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds and also the lead of the Africa College Partnership whose work is to aid the development of sustainable agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa.
Professor Ken Norris, University of Reading, UKOrganiser
Ken Norris is Professor of Agro-ecology and Director of the Centre for Agri-Environmental Research (CAER) at the University of Reading. He works on biodiversity and ecosystem services in a changing environment, particularly in relation to changes in land-use and management. His work focuses on developing novel approaches to assessing the biodiversity impacts of environmental change, assessing the functional role of biodiversity in agro-ecosystems and linking these functions to the values and benefits people experience. He also leads NERC’s Biodiversity Theme.
Professor Robert Watson, DEFRAThe need for ecological predictions to inform policy decisions
Professor Watson’s career has evolved from research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: California Institute of Technology, to a US Federal Government programs manager/director at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to a scientific/policy advisor in the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), White House, to a scientific advisor, manager and chief scientist at the World Bank, to a Chair of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, the Director for Strategic Direction for the Tyndall centre, and Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In parallel to his formal positions he has chaired, co-chaired or directed international scientific, technical and economic assessments of stratospheric ozone depletion, biodiversity/ecosystems (the GBA and MA), climate change (IPCC) and agricultural S&T (IAASTD). Professor Watson’s areas of expertise include managing and coordinating national and international environmental programmes, research programmes and assessments; establishing science and environmental policies - specifically advising governments and civil society on the policy implications of scientific information and policy options for action; and communicating scientific, technical and economic information to policymakers. During the last twenty years he has received numerous national and international awards recognising his contributions to science and the science-policy interface, including in 2003 - Honorary “Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George” from the United Kingdom.
Mr Paul Leonard, BASF SE, BelgiumPredicting the consequences of policy and technology change
After graduating in Zoology from the University of Bristol, Paul Leonard moved to London University's Imperial College of Science and Technology, where he was awarded an MSc in Applied Entomology. In 2004 he was awarded an MBA by the Open University Business School.In 1994, Paul was hired by Dow Chemical Company, where he worked as a research entomologist for ten years. He Chaired the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC), from 1993 to 1996.In 1994, he moved to American Cyanamid in Belgium, as European Insecticide Technical Manager. In 1999, he was appointed Director Regulatory Affairs for the European Middle East and African Region.In 2000, American Cyanamid was purchased by BASF, after which he set up a new "Alliance Management" regulatory function.In 2008, Paul transferred to BASF's Communications and Government Relations Team, to represent the company’s Agricultural Products Division in Brussels. In same year, he was also elected to the board of directors of Rothamsted Research.In 2009 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the British Chamber of Commerce in Belgium, where he also chairs the Food Security Safety and Sustainability Task Force.
Dr Mike Morecroft, Natural England, UKConservation management for an uncertain future
Mike Morecroft is Head of Climate Change at Natural England, the government conservation agency for England. His job is to develop the evidence base for climate change adaptation and mitigation and apply it to practical nature conservation. Mike is an ecologist and has published widely on climate change and related issues, including on forest carbon cycle processes and the monitoring of long-term change in ecosystems. Before joining Natural England in 2009, he led a research group at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at Wallingford, having worked with CEH and its predecessor, the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, since 1992. He is a Senior Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University and a trustee of the Ecological Continuity Trust.
Professor Sandra Diaz, National University of Córdoba, Argentina Can recurrent patterns of plant specialisation help summarizing ecosystem properties?
Sandra Díaz is Professor of Community and Ecosystems Ecology at Córdoba National University and Senior Principal Researcher of the National Research Council of Argentina. She is interested in plant functional traits, their interactions with global change drivers and their effects on ecosystem properties. She has had a strong influence in the development and practical implementation of the concept of functional diversity and how it affects ecosystem properties and the benefits that people derive from them. She was elected Foreign Associate Member of the USA National Academy of Sciences in 2009, and Member of the Academies of Sciences of the Developing World (TWAS) and of Argentina in 2010. She was awarded the Argentine Botanical Society Prize (1998), the J S Guggenheim Fellowship (2002), the Cozzarelli Prize of the USA National Academy of Sciences (2008), and the Sustainability Science Award of the Ecological Society of America (2009). She participated in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the IPCC. She is a member of the Science Committee of the international programme on biodiversity science DIVERSITAS, and the founder and director of the international initiative Núcleo DiverSus on Diversity and Sustainability.
Dr Drew Purves, Microsoft Research, UKGlobal variation in the structure and function of ecosystems
Drew Purves is the head of the Computational Ecology and Environmental Science Group (CEES) at Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK. Before taking up this position Drew studied ecology at Cambridge University, did a PhD in ecological modelling at the University of York (UK, working under Professor Richard Law), and spent nearly 6 years as a postdoc in the EEB Department at Princeton University (working under Professor Stephen Pacala). Drew's research, which mainly focuses on the dynamics of populations and communities of plants, especially forests, has led to over 20 publications in peer-reviewed journals including Science, PNAS, Proc Roy Soc B, Global Change Biology, Ecology, Ecological Monographs and Ecology Letters. Drew co-supervises several PhD students at European universities and since 2008 has been an affiliate lecturer at Cambridge University.
Dr Stephen Cornell, University of Leeds, UKAnalytical mathematical methods in ecology
Stephen Cornell is a mathematical ecologist at the University of Leeds, who was once a statistical physicist but moved into population biology in 1998. He is interested in the way that demographic processes and interactions facilitate coexistence or invasions, and hence generate ecological patterns of abundance. He is particularly interested in the ability of mathematical, rather than computational, models to improve understanding of these processes and the phenomena that arise from them. He has applied such methods to understanding a wide variety of problems, including: the effect of landscape structure and dynamics on metapopulations; the tradeoff between food production and wildlife conservation; patterns of biodiversity in spatial ecology; intracellular dynamics of bacterial pathogens; the probability that sexually-reproducing parasites will cause an epidemic; and the genetics of drug resistance.
Dr Andrés López-Sepulcre, École Normale Superiéure de Paris/CNRS, FranceAn empirical approach to eco-evolutionary complexity: a long-term experiment in Trinidadian streams
Dr López-Sepulcre dedicates his research to the investigation of eco-evolutionary feedbacks. He makes particular emphasis in the integration of theoretical models, short-term experiments and the analysis of long-term data. After a BSc at the Universities of Barcelona and Glasgow, he obtained his PhD in 2007 at the Universities of Jyväskylä and Helsinki. He investigated the links between demography and the evolution of behaviour, using adaptive dynamics models and the Seychelles Magpie Robin as a case study. A postdoc at the University of California, Riverside extended his view of eco-evolutionary feedbacks the explicit consideration of multivariate life histories evolving in complex ecosystems. For that, he and his colleagues developed a research program in Trinidadian streams, taking advantage of the rapid evolution of guppy life-histories and their effects on their stream ecosystem. Such integrative project, which integrates demography, evolutionary biology and ecosystem science, is ongoing and represents a high proportion of his research efforts. He is currently a CNRS researcher at the École Normale Superiéure in Paris and a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona.
Dr Bruno Ernande, French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea, FranceHarvest-induced life-history evolution in exploited fish populations: empirical evidence and forecasting of evolutionary changes and their demographic consequences
Bruno Ernande is scientific coordinator of the Channel and North Sea Fisheries Department from the French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea (IFREMER, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France) and research affiliate in the Evolution and Ecology Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria). He holds an MSc in Ecology (1997) from the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the University Pierre et Marie-Curie (Paris, France) and a PhD in Evolutionary Ecology (2001) from the University of La Rochelle (France) for his work on the genetics and the evolution of phenotypic plasticity. He was appointed as lecturer and teaching assistant at the University of La Rochelle from 1998 to 2001 and then as post-doctoral fellow in the Evolution and Ecology Program at IIASA. He joined IFREMER as research scientist in 2004.
Dr Ernande’s research interests are in marine ecology, fish and molluscs’ evolutionary ecology and life history, fisheries-induced evolution, fish habitats, marine food webs, predator-prey interactions, aquaculture and fisheries. His work combines both empirical and modelling studies in the fields of population and quantitative genetics, bioenergetics, life history theory, population dynamics and evolutionary dynamics. He serves as French representative in the ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) Working Group on the Application of Genetics in Fisheries and Mariculture (WGAGFM) and the ICES Working Group on Fisheries-Induced evolution (WGEVO) and is an editorial board member of the journal OIKOS.
Public lecture 5 Dec
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