Biodiversity is declining around the world. Extinction rates have risen far enough above historical norms that scientists have defined a new era of global mass extinction. These losses are reducing nature’s contributions to human health, wellbeing, and economy and increasing the chance that we are exceeding the safe planetary boundaries for maintaining human life on Earth. Protecting, managing and restoring biodiversity constitute some of the greatest challenges for science and humankind in the 21st Century. Which species will be the next go extinct? Where will species diversity increase or decrease? How will changes in biodiversity affect ecosystems and their ecological, social and economic benefits to humans? How do we create sustainable economic opportunities while tackling the challenges related to biodiversity changes? Biologists still do not know the answers to most of these questions. To anticipate biodiversity loss and plan for consequences that are in many cases unavoidable (at least in the short and medium term), we need models capable of predicting the future state of ecological communities. These models are critical to estimate change in associated ecosystem services, guide sustainable practices, enable smart policies, and inform biodiversity assessments, management actions and conservation interventions. In this presentation, I will discuss: (1) the main challenges involved in producing robust biodiversity models related to climate change; and (2) some possible solutions to these challenges.
Dr. Pedro Peres-Neto holds is Professor and Canada Research Chair in Spatial Ecology and Biodiversity in the Department of Biology at Concordia University. His research involves large-scale field surveys and experimental, quantitative and theoretical approaches to study a central question in ecology: Why are species where they are? To tackle this question, Professor Peres-Neto's lab links conceptual and empirical research across a broad number of communities including bacteria, phytoplankton, zooplankton, fish, insects, mammals and plants.
Dr. Lilian Sales is a post-doctoral researcher working with Dr. Peres-Neto in the Department of Biology at Concordia University. In her research, she uses mathematical models to understand the drivers of species distribution at landscape, regional and global scales. Currently, her main research goal is to understand the redistribution of biodiversity in the Anthropocene, its causes and consequences, in addition to implications for wildlife management and conservation .