Tuesday, August 7, 2007 - 1:30 PM

SYMP 7-1: Introductory remarks: Environmental change, extinction risk, and the maintenance of biodiversity through time

Paul G. Harnik, University of Chicago and S. Kathleen Lyons, Old Dominion University.

Understanding the mechanisms responsible for the generation of biodiversity and its maintenance is critical in developing effective strategies for conservation and ecological restoration. Geohistorical records allow ecologists an opportunity to test for the generality of processes responsible for the maintenance of biodiversity over a range of natural environmental variation. Further, such records provide necessary baselines with which to compare ecological patterns and processes prior to the onset of anthropogenic influences. However, because paleontologists and ecologists typically attend different meetings and rarely have the opportunity to interact, some of the insights gathered from these different scales are not shared and certain misconceptions perpetuated regarding the ecological fidelity and acuity of the fossil record. This symposium, co-sponsored by the Paleontological Society and the Paleoecology section of ESA, will present a synopsis of the ecological fidelity and acuity of geohistorical records in both marine and terrestrial settings, and provide a forum for ecologists working at multiple temporal scales to discuss the maintenance of biodiversity during intervals of environmental change. Specifically, speakers will address two topical areas, 1) the factors associated with extinction risk and 2) structure of communities in the face of climatic change, applying theory and methods from diverse areas of ecology to provide insights into the ecological processes structuring biodiversity over longer temporal scales from the near to distant past.