A New Vast Machine and Forecasting Global Change Impacts on Biodiversity
Robert Guralnick, University of Colorado, Boulder

Human-driven, planetary scale changes in the Earth system, from lithosphere to atmosphere, continue to accelerate. Whether it is addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, deforestation due to conversion to urban areas or cropland, or damming and silting of lakes or rivers, the scale of change is massive and unprecedented. The ultimate impacts on this green planet are indisputable and increasingly worriesome. This now-emerged biodiversity crisis, already termed the sixth extinction event, is not simply about conservation of species or habitats. Fundamentally, it is about our own species' ability to remain healthy and sustainably derive food, fuel, feed and fiber needed for our own society. In this brief talk, I will focus less on what we do know, and more on the many gaps in our knowledge regarding global change and impacts on biodiversity. I will then turn to new theoretical and empirical approaches being developed to more fully assemble our knowledge in order to better forecast future changes to our biosphere.

Background Review Article:
Walter Jetz, Jana M. McPherson, Robert P. Guralnick. Integrating biodiversity distribution knowledge: toward a global map of life. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 27, Issue 3, March 2012, Pages 151–159.

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