Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to announce the four keynote speakers for the symposium, two each in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology. Their tentative talk titles and mini-CVs are as follows:

Dr. Juli Pausas

Centro de Investigación sobre Desertificación (Valencia, Spain)

(Talk topic: “Fire and Biodiversity”)

Juli Pausas is a plant ecology scientist at Centro de Investigación sobre Desertificación (CIDE, Valencia, Spain) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). His research focuses on ecology and evolution of mediterranean and fire-prone ecosystems, and specifically on understanding the role of fire in shaping plant species (i.e., fire traits), populations, communities (i.e., assembly processes) and landscapes. He has most experience in the Mediterranean Basin, but without forgetting the global perspective. He has participated in several successful international research projects and has experience in both field and modelling studies. He has written more than 100 scientific papers, co-edited an international book on the ecology of Cork oak woodlands (Island Press), co-authored a book on Fire ecology in Mediterranean ecosystems (Cambridge Press), and book in Spanish on Forest fires from an ecological viewpoint.


Dr. Luigi Boitani

University of Rome, Dept of Biology and Biotechnologies (Rome, Italy)

(Talk topic: “Where is a Species ? Representing Species on a Map”)

Luigi Boitani is Professor of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology at the University of Rome, Dept of Biology and Biotechnologies. He was President of the Society for Conservation Biology for 2009-2011. His main scientific interests are on three topics: a) the social ecology of carnivores, particularly wolves and bears on which he has been working since 1972; b) patterns and models of species distributions based on GIS tools; and c) a biological approach to the conservation and planning of protected areas, with emphasis on the African and European continents. He has served as member of the IUCN’s SSC and WCPA since 1973 and as member of the SSC Steering Committee since 1994 . He is also the Chair of the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, a SSC Working Group which is a regular consultant to the European Union on carnivore conservation issues. He has consulted widely in Africa and Asia on establishing and managing protected areas and on other conservation issues. He is author of more than 310 scientific papers, 9 books and 80 technical reports.

Dr. Nick Barton

Institute of Science and Technology, (Klosterneuburg, Austria)

(Talk topic: “Modeling Evolution”)

Nick Barton is based at the Institute of Science and Technology, Klosterneuburg, Austria. His research focuses on a variety of questions (see Current Research) in evolutionary genetics, the common theme being the use of mathematical models of selection on large numbers of genes, and on spatially continuous populations, Topics include speciation, hybrid zones, evolution of recombination, selection on quantitative traits, coalescence with selection, and evolutionary computation.

Talk synopsis: Mathematical models of evolution have been used for more than a century. The recent abundance of DNA sequence data has radically changed the field, yet many fundamental questions remain open.  Dr. Barton will discuss the variety of approaches to modelling evolution, and the distinctive problems that they raise.

Dr. Jennifer Leonard

Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics Group
Estación Biológica de Doñana (Sevilla, Spain)

(Talk topic: “Dynamic Populations in Late

Pleistocene Beringia”)

Jennifer Leonard is works at the Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics Group
Estación Biológica de Doñana.
Her research interests lie in the effect of changes in the environment on the genetic diversity of natural populations, with emphasis on the temporal perspective using ancient DNA.

Talk synopsis: The end of the Pleistocene was a dynamic time. Populations expanded and contracted. Distributions changed resulting in different species interactions.  Many species went extinct. The Beringian ecosystem (from Siberia to Alaska and Yukon, with a land bridge between) is a particularly good place to study these changes because there were many, dramatic changes in the physical and biological environment, and because there is a large amount of well preserved material available for study. Genetic data from some of these late Pleistocene animals have yielded insights into how and when these populations were changing. Wolves were one of the smaller carnivores in this community, and are currently members of the living communities in Alaska, Yukon and Siberia. I use wolves as a point-of-entry into this community and look at how the wolf population has changed, and discuss how it may have interacted with other members of the large carnivore guild.  This trophic level was highly dependent on the megaherbivores, so changes in the herbivore populations likely impacted their predators. The combination of genetic, isotopic and other data yields a clearer picture of this dynamic community.