May 22 is International Day for Biological Diversity. As the global community is called to re-examine its relationship to the natural world, one thing is certain: despite all our technological advances we are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy, just to name a few. The 2020 theme “Our solutions are in nature” emphasizes hope, solidarity and the importance of working together at all levels to build a future of life in harmony with nature.
Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:
Anna Hargreaves, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
“Biodiversity goes deeper than the number of species. Species interact in an incredible diversity of ways and those interactions knit together ecological communities and drive the evolution of new and ever more fascinating species. The biodiversity of species interactions - how they compete, with each other, eat each other, hide from and trick each other, and sometimes even work together - is to my mind the true richness of Earth's biodiversity. Species interactions run our living planet and makes it infinitely fascinating and worth cherishing far more than we currently do.”
Anna Hargreaves is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology. Her research focuses on conservation, ecology, evolution, and behaviour. Her work explores interactions among species. She conducts field-based experiments in natural environments to test and refine theoretical ideas in ecology and evolution that have practical conservation relevance.
anna.hargreaves [at] mcgill.ca (English, French, Spanish)
Anthony Ricciardi, Professor, Redpath Museum and McGill School of Environment
"We live in an age of biological invasion – the spread and proliferation of organisms into areas of the world where they have never previously occurred. Throughout the history of life, species have spread into new regions; but under human influence, plants, animals, microbes, and viruses are being moved faster, farther, and in greater numbers, than at any previous time in Earth’s history. The rapid proliferation of the coronavirus across the planet shows how vulnerable we are to this phenomenon. The COVID19 pandemic is a predictable result of ecosystem alteration, wildlife exploitation, and global connectedness – a sinister combination that accounts for other recent epidemics and pandemics (such as Zika, H1N1, SARS, and MERS) and will continue to drive novel infectious disease outbreaks in the future. Therefore, we must direct our efforts toward managing not only the pathogens themselves but also the environmental factors that facilitate their emergence, spread, and impact. Cross-disciplinary collaborations between biomedical researchers, epidemiologists, sociologists, and ecologists are vital to limiting future outbreaks."
Anthony Ricciardi is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Redpath Museum and the McGill School of Environment, and an associate member of the department of Biology. His research examines the causes and consequences of biological invasions, focusing on aquatic ecosystems. He is one of lead authors working on the IPBES Invasive Alien Species Assessment, which will evaluate global drivers and impacts of invasions, as well as management strategies for dealing with them.
Tony.Ricciardi [at] mcgill.ca (English)