CIE Seminar Series – 2020: Why we should restore urban ecosystems

SPEAKER: Dr Martin Breed, Lecturer – Biology, College of Science & Engineering, Flinders University, South Australia

DATE & TIME: Friday, 17th July 2020 @ 12:00 noon

LOCATION: Seminar to be streamed via Zoom. Click HERE to connect.


As the world’s population grows and cities expand, more people are shifting away from open, biodiverse spaces into urbanised environments. 50% of the world’s 7 billion people live in cities, with an increase to 70% anticipated by 2030. Rates of species extinction are now far higher than in the past 10 million years, driven in large part by increases in urban populations.

This biodiversity crisis is linked to rapid increases in non-communicable diseases (e.g. chronic inflammatory conditions). Rapid urbanisation is at odds with human evolutionary history, which is deeply rooted in nature. Loss of macrodiversity following urbanisation is linked to reductions in environmental microbial diversity. Exposure to biodiverse environmental microbiota is important for healthy human immune system development and maintenance.

Indeed, reduced exposure is thought to partly explain the western pandemic of non-communicable diseases. Despite these values, urban green spaces continue to decline. Can urban ecosystems be restored to serve a dual purpose of conserving native biodiversity and promoting public health at the same time?


I completed my PhD in Restoration Genetics at the Adelaide University in 2013. Since completing my PhD, I have been a postdoc at Uppsala University (Sweden), a DECRA Fellow and Research Fellow at Adelaide University, until my appointed as Lecturer in Biology at Flinders University in 2019.

My team and I are passionate about doing applied research at the interface of restoration ecology, genomics and public health.

Some career highlights include signing an MOU with the UN Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity to work jointly on the links between biodiversity and human health via the microbiome, serving as a patron of the genetics working groups for the Group On Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) and the IUCN Species Survival Commission, and surviving Semester 1 2020 teaching.

For more info click HERE.

As a courtesy, we request that when connecting to the seminar that you mute your microphone unless you are required to speak, this would ensure that the sound from the speaker to the audience is not disrupted by feedback from your microphone.

Thanking you in advance!