AN ADDITIONAL CIE SEMINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: CIE Seminar Series 2014 – Global indicators of biodiversity change: from species to ecosystems

Lucie BSPEAKER: Dr Lucie Bland, ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Botany, The University of Melbourne.
DATE: Tuesday, 4th November 2014
LOCATION: Warrnambool Campus, Room C1.13
TIME: 2:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207 and Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT4 (B3.05)

ABSTRACT: Global indicators of biodiversity change are crucial to measuring progress towards international targets and prioritizing conservation actions. Such indicators may include the change in coverage of protected areas, the extent of forests and the risk of species extinction.

I will outline challenges and potential solutions for monitoring biodiversity globally, taking the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems as case studies.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the most widely used tool for assessing the risk of extinction to species, with more than 74,000 species assessed as of 2014. However, one is six species on the Red List are assessed as Data Deficient due to paucity of information on their geographic distribution, population status and ecology.Data Deficient species contribute to considerable uncertainty in estimates of extinction risk and may bias conservation priorities towards better-known areas.

My PhD focused on cost-effectively resolving the effects of Data Deficient species on the estimation of extinction risk in six groups (mammals, amphibians, reptiles, crayfish, freshwater crabs and dragonflies). I illustrated how natural history and museum data, combined with powerful computational tools (machine learning, optimization and sampling theory) could inform the monitoring of poorly-known species.

I also shed light on processes driving the availability of conservation information worldwide, and provided recommendations to IUCN for future conservation research efforts. My current work focuses on assessing the risk of collapse of ecosystems to inform the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. I will outline my plans to create models for Ecosystem Viability Analysis, the analogue of PVA for species. I will also explore challenges in linking biodiversity indicators to global conservation policy.

BIO: My research focuses on monitoring progress towards international biodiversity targets and global conservation policy.

I obtained a First Class BA (Hons) in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford in 2010. In 2014 I completed a PhD at the Zoological Society of London and Imperial College London. My thesis focused on the effects of data uncertainty on the estimation of extinction risk in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

In my current position at the University of Melbourne, I develop mechanistic models of ecosystem collapse to inform the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. I am particularly interested in computational statistics, macroecology and the interface between science and policy.

My current research projects include: understanding global biases in biological knowledge; prioritizing species and areas for conservation in the face of severe uncertainty; invertebrate macroecology and macroevolution.

In previous lives I have worked for international organisations (IUCN, CERN) and in natural disaster risk modelling for the insurance sector.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Rebecca Lester.