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Livestream Lecture: The Sixth (Modern) Mass Extinction – A Geologic Perspective
April 29, 2020, 7:00 pm
Earth is currently experiencing an accelerating biodiversity crisis that could rival past mass extinctions in terms of rate, magnitude, and selectivity. What lessons does the fossil record offer for how ecosystems will respond to massive loss of biodiversity? In this talk, I compare the intensity and ecological selectivity of past mass extinction events to the current biodiversity crisis. Both on land and in the ocean, the strongly selective removal of large-bodied animals across many taxonomic groups is unique to the current diversity crisis and appears to be a signature of human influence on the biosphere. The geologic record provides many past examples of climate warming, ocean acidification, and sea level change that can help to inform projections of future environmental conditions. However, it does not contain a biodiversity crisis with a similar pattern of extinction, adding to the challenge of forecasting future ecosystem function.
Dr. Jonathan Payne is Professor and Chair of Geological Sciences at Stanford University. He also holds a courtesy appointment in Biology, is a Member of Stanford’s interdisciplinary biosciences institute Bio-X, and is an Affiliate of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. His research addresses the relationship between environmental change and biological evolution in the fossil record, with a focus on mass extinction events and long-term trends in the ecological structure of marine ecosystems. Dr. Payne received a BA in geosciences from Williams College and a PhD in Earth and planetary sciences from Harvard University.
Accessing the Program:
This free, online livestream lecture will take place on April 29 at 7:00 PM CDT via Zoom. To help us better serve our audiences, we have included some demographic questions in the registration form. Your response to these questions is voluntary but appreciated. Thank you!Click here to register
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The lecture will live stream on the Library’s Facebook page.
Further reading at the Linda Hall Library
- Bottjer, David J. Paleoecology : past, present, and future. Chichester, West Sussex : John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2016.
- Brannen, Peter (Peter Melanson) The ends of the world : volcanic apocalypses, lethal oceans, and our quest to understand Earth’s past mass extinctions. New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017.
- Kolbert, Elizabeth The sixth extinction : an unnatural history. New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2014.
- MacLeod, Norman The great extinctions : what causes them and how they shape life. Buffalo, New York : Firefly Books, 2013.