Experts: International Day for Biological Diversity | May 22

Published: 19 May 2021

As the global community is called to re-examine our relationship to the natural world, one thing is certain: despite all our technological advances, humans are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter, and energy, just to name a few. The 2021 theme, “We’re part of the solution”, was chosen to be a continuation of the momentum generated last year under the over-arching theme, “Our solutions are in nature”, which served as a reminder that biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges. (United Nations)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Andrew Gonzalez, Full Professor, Department of Biology

2021 is a crucial year for addressing the biodiversity crisis. New global biodiversity goals will be set by the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China, this Fall. This is our chance to set ambitious but realizable targets aimed at protecting nature, in all its forms, and the many essential benefits our society and economy derive from healthy ecosystems.”

Andrew Gonzalez is a Full Professor in the Department of Biology, where he holds the Liber Ero Chair in Conservation Biology. His research is broadly focused on the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss and the stability and functioning of ecosystems.

andrew.gonzalez [at] (English, French)

Brian Leung, Associate Professor, Department of Biology

Biodiversity patterns are more nuanced than typically presented. Based on available time-series data, some regions appear to be at very high risk, such as in the Indo-Pacific, while other regions are actually showing general improvement, such as Europe. However, there's a lot of uncertainty because data simply do not exist for most species.”

Brian Leung is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology and the Director of the McGill-STRI Neotropical Environment Option. He holds the UNESCO Chair for Dialogues on Sustainability and his expertise includes biological invasions, ecology of diseases and anthropogenic stressors.

brian.leung2 [at] (English)

Laura Pollock, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology

There’s never been a time with so much interest in protecting biological diversity. We have ambitious international commitments such as the 30 by 30 initiative (protecting 30% of land and ocean by 2030) and proposals to plant billions of trees. We’re also armed with more knowledge than ever, not only on threats, but on where to focus to efficiently protect biodiversity. Now is the time to put this knowledge to action.”

Laura Pollock is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology. Her research aims understand how and why biodiversity is distributed across the landscape using predictive modelling that draws from a range of subfields (macro-ecology, community ecology, biogeography and phylo-geography) and data sources (traits, phylogenies, experts).

laura.pollock [at] (English)

Anthony Ricciardi, Full Professor, Bieler School of Environment and Redpath Museum

One of the greatest threats to native biodiversity is biological invasion – the spread of plants, animals, and microbes beyond their natural range. Under human influence, species are spreading faster, farther, and in greater numbers than at any time in Earth's history – and thus constitute a unique form of global change. In particular, freshwater ecosystems are being transformed by the combined stressors of climate change and invasion.”

Anthony Ricciardi is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Bieler School of Environment and the Redpath Museum and an Associate Member of the Department of Biology. His research examines the causes and consequences of biological invasions, focusing on aquatic ecosystems.

tony.ricciardi [at] (English)

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