Events – Symposium: Measuring Biodiversity and Extinction, Present and Past – 7 January 2018, San Francisco, USA

This symposium marks a knowledge transfer event at the conclusion of a Marie Curie Global Fellowship experience for the organiser, Dr Julia Sigwart (Director, Queen’s University Belfast, Marine Laboratory, UK).

Changing biodiversity is a major concern for all biologists. Anthropogenic changes to our planet are decreasing species diversity through the negative impacts of pollution, habitat destruction, direct extirpation of species, and climate change.

Mass extinction events (and subsequent recoveries) have happened before in Earth’s history, and these provide important context to understand ecological responses to modern environmental change.

The work of assessing biodiversity is woven into ecology, environmental science, conservation, phylogenetics, evo-devo, and many other disciplines; yet, ultimately the way we measure species diversity depends on taxonomy and systematics.

The aspiration of this symposium, and complementary contributed talks, is to promote better understanding of our common goals and encourage future interdisciplinary discussion on biodiversity dynamics.

The symposium will bring together a diverse group of speakers to confront several important themes:

1. How can biologists best respond to the urgent need to identify and conserve diversity?

2. Where are the major gaps in knowledge about the diversity of living animal groups, and what are the implications for understanding potential diversity loss?

3. How can we effectively use the fossil record of past diversity and extinction to understand current biodiversity loss?

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