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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellows' Seminar - Depending on scale – how to investigate effects on and conservation of biodiversity

27th March 2017, 13:00 to 14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Professor Sara Cousins (Stockholm University, Sweden)


How species, communities and biodiversity respond with time to changing patterns, habitat loss and fragmentation is one of the most important theoretical and conservation issues in ecology today. However the response to – for example – habitat loss is not linear, especially since some patterns have a strong historical signal and it takes time before species respond to the change. One challenge in conservation to be able to make future projections, is to separate the effect of time since and magnitude of change. Furthermore, the development of species communities can go in different directions under different drivers and particularly depending on the spatial structure of habitats within a landscape or a region. A surrounding matrix which is more easily traversed by some organisms than by others will also generate different responses in the future. Many relationships between landscape patterns, land use and natural processes are still poorly explored. For example: long-term effects of conservation management or the potential for “new” habitats to conserve biodiversity.

In her research Professor Sara Cousins strives to identify non-linear steps – or tipping points – in the response of biodiversity to landscape and climate change at different scales. Apart from this, what is an appropriate scale to use in conservation? People and society decide what biodiversity and which habitats to conserve, and how to conserve them. So, it is also interesting to discuss the scale of conservation – and thus our ecological experiments and investigations – should we strive for the scale of the human landscape, the organism, or the conservationist. Another scale issue that fascinates Professor Cousins is the processes that are essential for upholding biodiversity, from the pollination of a flower, to the development of a seed, to the dispersal of the seed to a new suitable spot in the habitat, region or biome.

Fellows' seminars take place on Monday lunchtimes in the seminar room at Cosin's Hall.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues interested in attending a seminar should contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

The aim of these seminars is to develop new thinking on the big issues that are of current concern/interest for the Fellows . Each Fellow is asked to present a core idea that informs their current work, or a problem that they are tackling, that could benefit from cross-disciplinary thinking. These seminars are informal and designed to encourage discussion.

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.