26
Sep

Conference – Simon Smart.  Wednesday 28th September. 12:30 – Sala Capitular

The homogenisation of the biosphere in response to human activity: the search for Darwinian demons and lessons from big business

“Human exploitation of ecosystems has resulted in habitat modification and increased dispersal opportunities for a range of species. Thus human perturbation acts as a  non-random filter sifting the biota in favour of generalist ‘winners’ and specialist ‘losers’. This is predicted to result in ecosystems that are more similar from place to place and less species-rich.  The consequence is a more homogenous biosphere with less adaptive capacity in the face of ongoing global change. I describe current evidence for so-called ‘biotic homogenisation’. I will also describe a unique study from the UK which shows how plant communities have differentiated at the taxonomic level but homogenised at the trait-level. These parallel changes can be understood by analogy with the economic process of ‘industrial concentration’.”

Simon Smart is a senior research scientist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, a visiting lecturer at University of Liverpool and a council member of the Botanical Society of the British Isles. He has 20 years experience in the recording, analysis, interpretation and statistical modelling of ecological change in temperate ecosystems with a particular focus on vascular plants. He has led a range of projects investigating the causes and consequences of large-scale changes in plant species composition.

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