Save the date: Meeting of the Fellows’ Club, June 11 & 12, 2020

Biodiversity: Conceptual Challenges in an Era of Rapid Change

The term “biodiversity“ conjures scenes of tropical forests or coral reefs … and worries about the exponential loss of species worldwide. Ecology and evolutionary biology have made important contributions to a deeper understanding of biodiversity, not only by quantifying the rapid change of ecosystems, but also by showing that there is need for a deeper understanding of the quality of interactions within them: Why do some environments have high biodiversity and others low? What does biodiversity tell us about ecosystem function and stability? What are the consequences of changing biodiversity? Millions of years of evolution have generally led to an increase of biodiversity over time, but were also punctuated by five major mass extinction events. The “anthropocene”, our current era in which the impact of human behavior is fundamentally changing the surface of the earth, is predicted to become the sixth. While this crisis lends urgency to scientific work, it also implies that research on biodiversity must include socio-political questions: Which social and institutional settings encourage behavior in favor of biodiversity? Our program will open on the evening of June 11, 2020 with a panel discussion that spans the origins, benefits and challenges of biodiversity. On the following day, the group will visit the exhibit and the collections of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, meet its Director General and the team of the museum’s new Center for Integrative Biodiversity Discovery. The program will close with a session on urban beekeeping, that will discuss how bees – which are globally exposed to ecological hazards – are able to adapt to unlikely ecological niches.