Public Lecture to Discuss Challenges in Assessing Human Impact on Ecosystems

Ecologist Donald M. Waller of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will give the Jane Block Distinguished Lecture in Conservation Biology at UC Riverside, May 22

Photo shows Donald Waller examing flowers on a tree.

Donald Waller is the John T. Curtis Professor of Botany and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.Photo credit: Waller Lab, University of Wisconsin–Madison.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Humans are conducting massive experiments on ecosystems around the world by fragmenting habitats, killing predators, introducing exotic species, boosting nutrient concentrations, and altering climates.

On May 22, ecologist Donald M. Waller will give the Jane Block Distinguished Lecture in Conservation Biology at the University of California, Riverside in which he will discuss how our ability to assess these impacts and track responses is crippled because we lack baseline data, controls, and adequate monitoring.

“We are using unusually complete and extensive data from the 1950s to assess threats to species persistence and to untangle the many drivers of ecological change,” said Waller, the John T. Curtis Professor of Botany and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

His talk, titled “The once and future forest: Drivers of long-term ecological change,” will take place at 4:10 p.m., in the auditorium in the Genomics Building on campus.  A reception will follow the talk, at 5 p.m., in the foyer.

The talk is free of charge and open to the public.  Parking on campus costs $6 per day or $2 per hour in marked, numbered spaces in select parking lots.

Waller chairs the Department of Botany and the Biological Aspects of Conservation major and helped found the University of Wisconsin’s graduate program in conservation biology and sustainable development.  He teaches courses in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. His research interests include plant population biology; the evolution of plant mating systems; causes and consequences of inbreeding; demographic and genetic hazards in isolated populations; deer impacts on forest ecosystems; and how climate change, invasive species, nutrient inputs, and habitat fragmentation interact to drive long-term ecological change.

He co-authored Wild Forests:  Conservation Biology and Public Policy (1994) and co-edited The Vanishing Present:  Shifts in Wisconsin’s lands, waters, and wildlife (2008).  He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received a Palme Academique Award from the French Ministry of Education.  He has served as an associate editor for Oecologia and Ecology Letters, editor-in-chief of Evolution, and president of the Society for the Study of Evolution.

The Jane Block Distinguished Lecture in Conservation Biology is named after a widely recognized community leader who has played a significant role in saving lands in Riverside County, in getting habitat conservation plans established, and in supporting the Center for Conservation Biology at UC Riverside.

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