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Whither Biodiversity? Using the Past to Forecast Earth's Future
Start Date: 4/30/2013Start Time: 4:00 PM
End Date: 4/30/2013End Time: 5:30 PM
Event Description
This lecture by Elizabeth A. Hadly, professor of biology at Stanford University, examines species’ responses to past environmental changes as one of the best ways of unraveling how they will respond in the future. Major environmental events provide insights into the resilience of animals over time. In North America, the transition from the Late Pleistocene glacial period to the Holocene interglacial witnessed the extinction of two-thirds of all the large-bodied mammalian genera and coincided with expansion of modern humans. The smaller mammalian survivors of this extinction persisted but showed range changes, species turnover, and diversity decline. Subsequent but smaller climatic events, such as the Medieval Warm Period, continued to exert impacts on animals by causing adjustments in population abundances, body size and changes in genetic diversity. This retrospective view yields predictions for animals in the future. We will certainly lose species, while a few will thrive. Other species will abandon their former homes and occupy new areas. Surviving animals may change in size, behavior and/or genetic diversity. Although past climates exerted evolutionary pressures on animals, the rate and magnitude of changes over the next century suggest perturbations too rapid for present species to adjust, resulting in a world very different than it has been for millions of years. In addition to climatic changes, our planet faces the added pressure of 7+ billion people and all the resources we require. Charting the future of biodiversity requires not only history, which details the timing, scale, and magnitude of past global state shifts, but also the use of systems theory to forecast our planet’s future.
Location Information:
Main Campus - Hale Science  (View Map)
1350 PLEASANT ST
Boulder, CO

Main Campus - Hale Science  (View Map)
1350 PLEASANT ST
Boulder, CO
Room: 230
Contact Information:
Name: Paul Shankman
Phone: 303-492-6628
Email: paul.shankman@colorado.edu
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