Sept. 1-3, 2021 -
Geological Society, Burlington House, London
Integrating paleoenvironmental with biological sciences is crucial in the context of Anthropocene climate and biodiversity crisis. This conference will focus on Asia, containing the most biodiversity hotspots, tectonically active and climatically sensitive regions in the world.
Guillaume Dupont-Nivet (CNRS - Potsdam University)*
Peter Clift (LSU, USA)
Tara Jonell (U Queensland, Australia)
René Dommain (Potsdam U, Germany)
Scientific Topic. How do tectonics and climate force surface processes and the evolution of biodiversity in Asia? This meeting will examine this long-standing question by unraveling coupled geodynamic and Earth-Surface processes that impact environmental conditions and the Biosphere across different spatial and temporal scales. The focus will be on the India-Asia collision region at large, including widely different ecological environments such as the subarctic steppe of Central Asia or the tropical monsoonal forests of Southeast Asia. This region combines some of the most biogeographically diverse and tectonically active areas on Earth, as it straddles across the highest mountains and plateaus resulting from a complex geodynamic history throughout Phanerozoic times.
Past and present mountain landscapes are vital for building biodiversity. Mountain landscapes are hotbeds of speciation, accounting for over 85% of modern terrestrial mammals, birds and amphibians in only 25% of global land area. Over deep time, rugged mountain landscapes are shaped by the interplay of geological processes and climatic cycles that together promote habitat migration and fundamental processes driving the dispersal and diversity of life on Earth: speciation, persistence, dispersal, and extinction.
This meeting is relevant for researchers interested in a broad multidisciplinary approach to address some of the most fascinating challenges and current debates combining the Earth, Environmental and Life Sciences.
Timeliness and Importance. With ongoing human alteration of the Earth’s ecosystems and rapid global warming there is an urgent need to understand the response of species and environments to climate change. Modern observations only offer a limited perspective to study, therefore lessons learned from Earth’s past are essential for understanding how climate change affects the distribution and migration of species. Examining how past climate change influenced biological diversity around topographically complex and tectonically active systems, forming hotspots where many species likely evolved, provides unique information about their ability to adapt to climate change. In return, life itself has impacted regional environments and surface processes, global biogeochemical cycles and even tectonic processes over geological time, thus forming a fascinating network of interactions and feedbacks. The advent of molecular phylogenic tools, remote sensing information systems and biotic-based environmental proxies has led to an explosion of data and models to understand these interactions. Many international projects from hosts and other connected groups are currently yielding new enticing research paths.
Expected outcome. Attendants will present and learn developments in Earth-Life sciences interactions with a long-term, global perspective, which is particularly timely in the context of rapid climate change and anthropogenically-driven species extinction. Information extracted from contributions and breakout discussions will spark synergetic ideas and new transdisciplinary research alleys. Specific insight on how rapid climate and landscape changes impacted ancient life, will shed light on the origins and governing factors of biozones and thus inform conservation efforts. Eventually, this information can guide policy decisions under projections for a rapidly warming climate to ensure we preserve biodiversity of our ecosystems into the future, which are essential to global economic, social and cultural prosperity. To cover the event, a GSL special volume and a blog are planned.