The Gordon Goodman Memorial Lecture 2018

Date: 2018-09-25

Time: 13:30 - 17:00

Address: Lilla Frescativägen 4A, Stockholm

Venue: Beijer Hall, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm University and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) are proud to present the Gordon Goodman Memorial Lecture 2018 to be delivered on 25th September, by Camille Parmesan.

Camille is a Professor at School of Biological Sciences at Plymouth University in Plymouth, UK and has been ranked the second most highly cited author in the field of climate change for the decade 1999-2009 by Thomson Reuters “Essential Science Indicators.”. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Geological Sciences – University of Texas in Austin, Texas, USA.

She is soon to join the CNRS Ecology Center in Moulis, France, as part of President Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again program.

Camille’s research focuses on the impacts of climate change on wild plants and animals. Early work detailed behavioral, ecological and evolutionary aspects of insect/plant interactions. For the past 25 years, her focus has shifted towards biological impacts of anthropogenic climate change in natural systems. This research spans from detailed field-based work on individual butterfly species and communities to synthetic analyses of global impacts on a broad range of plants and animals across terrestrial and marine biomes.


Title of lecture: The Spectre of Conservation in a Time of Rapid Change

Climate change is but the latest in a series of ever-increasing anthropogenic pressures on natural systems, yet there are fundamental differences between this relatively new threat and traditional anthropogenic stressors that have challenged ecological research over the past century. With greenhouse gas emissions continuing to rise, earth is rapidly approaching a climate regime that has not been experienced for hundreds of thousands of years. There have been several global as well as regional meta-analyses of observed impacts of anthropogenic climate change on the distributions of species around the world. I will give an overview of these results, focusing on the “big picture” trends that have emerged from changes across terrestrial, marine and freshwater systems. These analyses have documented that about half of plants and animals have shifted their ranges towards the poles and up mountainsides, and about 2/3 have advanced their spring phenologies, attempting to track the shifting climate in both space and time. To date most of these changes have had relatively little negative impact on those species. However, we are starting to see negative impacts for the most vulnerable species – i.e.those occurring solely in sensitive systems or those that have already been highly impacted by other anthropogenic stressors.

Recent studies highlight a fundamental problem driving many wild species to the brink of extinction: humans can change their actions faster than wildlife can adapt. Climate change isn’t the only human-driven change happening at an ever rapid pace. Land use and land management practices are changing just as fast. Preservation of biodiversity in the face of these multiple anthropogenic changes will require novel forms of management and unconventional measures of ‘success’. Some conservation options bring up ethical issues that question the philosophical foundation of traditional conservation – that is, when should we give up on a species? Successful conservation will increasingly depend on trans-national cooperation, both in terms of research and policy applications. Creative conservation solutions are not without risk, but successful conservation in a time of rapid environmental change will be that which recognizes that doing nothing carries risk as well.

About the series

This annual memorial lecture is in honour of Gordon Goodman, founding director of the Beijer Institute at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences from 1977–1989 and the Stockholm Environment Institute from 1989–1991. 
The Lecture is sold out and registration is no longer possible.

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