SICB Annual Meeting 2018
January 3-7, 2018
San Francisco, CA

Symposium: Measuring Biodiversity and Extinction – Present and Past

Changing biodiversity is a major concern for all biologists. Anthropogenic changes to our planet are decreasing species diversity through the negative impacts of pollution, habitat destruction, direct extirpation of species, and climate change. Mass extinction events (and subsequent recoveries) have happened before in Earth’s history, and these provide important context to understand ecological responses to modern environmental change. The work of assessing biodiversity is woven into ecology, environmental science, conservation, phylogenetics, evo-devo, and many other disciplines; yet, ultimately the way we measure species diversity depends on taxonomy and systematics. The aspiration of this symposium, and complementary contributed talks, is to promote better understanding of our common goals and encourage future interdisciplinary discussion on biodiversity dynamics. The symposium will bring together a diverse group of speakers to confront several important themes:

1. How can biologists best respond to the urgent need to identify and conserve diversity?

2. Where are the major gaps in knowledge about the diversity of living animal groups, and what are the implications for understanding potential diversity loss?

3. How can we effectively use the fossil record of past diversity and extinction to understand current biodiversity loss?

Sponsors: DEDE, DIZ, DPCB

This symposium has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement H2020-MSCA-IF-2014-655661


  • Julia Sigwart, Queen’s University Belfast (N. Ireland), and University of California Berkeley


Keith Bennett

St Andrews University (UK)

Intersection of Quaternary climate oscillations and the generation of biodiversity: crucial or irrelevant?

David Jablonski, Stewart Edie, Katie Collins

University of Chicago

Extinction, climate, and the dynamics of biodiversity

Luke Mander

Open University (UK)

Modern and ancient plant biodiversity: what use are pollen grains?

Christine Morrow

National University of Ireland, Galway

Modern methods for ancient animals: recent developments in sponge systematics

Beth Okamura

Natural History Museum, London

Extensive uncharted diversity: the parasite dimension

Dan Rabosky


University of Michigan

Speciation, extinction, and the assembly of global vertebrate diversity


Julia Sigwart

Queen’s University Belfast (N. Ireland), and University of California Berkeley

What species mean

Quentin Wheeler

College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Blank canvas:  The case for descriptive taxonomy

Judith Winston

Smithsonian Marine Station

21st Century biological nomenclature—the power of names

Norine Yeung

Bishop Museum

Extinction of the hyperdiverse Hawaiian land snail fauna: What remains and what are we doing to save it?

Banner photos and images by Julia Sigwart, Keith Bennett, Quentin Wheeler, and Stewart Edie. .