One Of World’s Leading Biodiversity Experts Giving Public Lecture at UCC Tomorrow

One of the world’s leading biodiversity experts will give a public lecture at University College Cork (UCC) on Monday (18th July) and will warn that species across the globe are disappearing at rates that have never been observed in the past before.

Dr Larisa DeSantis, Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University, is a renowned conservation paleobiologist who uses modern, historic, and fossil records to inform floral and faunal responses to climate change.

“Species across the globe are disappearing at rates that are tens to hundreds of times that of background rates that we observe in the fossil record, over the past ten million years . Studying the ancient past, we can begin to understand the magnitude of today’s environmental and climate impacts. While it is often hard to perceive of changes in one’s environment over short-time periods, such as years to decades, the fossil record can allow humans to better perceive the consequences of our actions” states Dr DeSantis.

“Our research lab aims to understand the consequences of large animal extinctions ten to fifty thousand years ago. For decades we have debated if humans or climate change caused these extinctions; however, the more we study the fossil record the clearer the answer becomes.  The answer in most parts of the world is… both, climate change and human activities together have synergistic negative consequences. It is often the interplay between human activities and climate change that has and is continuing to cause dramatic ecological changes today.”

“When I first started studying the fossil record, the focus was on using the present to better understand the past.  Now, as a conservation paleobiologist, I aim to ask and answer questions that use the fossil record to shed light and provide cautionary lessons pertaining to the current environmental and climate crisis.”

“Biodiversity loss on islands like Ireland can be even more severe as invasive species introduced by humans, either intentionally or unintentionally, can outcompete native species” states Dr DeSantis who will deliver the free public lecture at UCC’s Aula Maxima at 8pm on Monday 18th July. Her lecture forms part of the Royal Irish Academy Discourse Lecture series, which are delivered by leading scholars in topical research areas. To register visit the Royal Irish Academy website.


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