Is biodiversity going the way of the Dodo?


Tiger. Credit: SJ Photography

Panel discussion with Professor Jonathan Baillie, Dr William Cheung, Professor Adrian Lister and chaired by Dr Susan Lieberman, as part of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

Right now one-fifth of the world’s vertebrates are classified as Threatened and every year over 50 mammals, birds, and amphibians species move one stage closer to extinction. Climate change is predicted to become a major threat to biodiversity in the 21st century, but will climate change trigger a mass extinction?

Dr Susan Lieberman (Chair) is the Director of International Policy at The Pew Environment Group, particularly focusing on marine conservation. Previously she was the Director of the Species Programme of WWF international, leading on the conservation of flagship species such as whales, marine turtles, tigers, African and Asian elephants, African and Asian rhinos, giant pandas, African and Asian great apes, and polar bears. She led WWF in policy and advocacy pertaining to several international treaties, including CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Professor Jonathan Baillie is the Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford. He is responsible for ZSL’s conservation projects focusing on threatened species and their habitats in more than 50 countries. In 2006 he founded the EDGE of Existence programme with a team from ZSL which focuses on Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species.

Dr William Cheung is a Lecturer in Marine Ecosystems Services at the University of East Anglia. His research looks at the impact of fishing and climate change on marine ecosystems, and has been developing models to examine their impact on marine biodiversity. He is also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature specialist group for various reef-associated fish.

Professor Adrian Lister is a Merit Researcher at the Natural History Museum in the Palaeontology Department. His research looks at what mammoths, elephants and deer populations of the past hundred thousand years can tell us about past climate change and species migrations, as well as trying to understand what caused the extinction of many of these large mammals. He was a principle scientific advisor of the BBC series Walking with Beasts, and also appeared in the 2009 BBC series Museum of Life.

This event was filmed and will be made available on

This event is Part of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition

Audio interviews with the speakers are also available here

Professor Adrian Lister interview 

Professor Jonathan Baillie interview 

Dr Susan Lieberman interview 

Dr William Cheung interview

Events coming up

  • The interaction of fire and mankind 14 September 2015 at The Royal Society, London Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andrew Scott, Professor William Chaloner FRS, Professor Claire Belcher and Dr Chris Roos
  • The interaction of fire and mankind - further discussion 16 September 2015 at The Royal Society at Chicheley Hall, home of the Kavli Royal Society International Centre, Buckinghamshire Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Andrew Scott, Professor William Chaloner FRS, Dr Claire Belcher and Professor Chris Roos
  • Open House Weekend 2015 19 September 2015 at The Royal Society, London The Royal Society's building will be open to the public on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September 2015.

For more events please see the events diary.