Maintaining Biodiversity in the Face of Environmental Change
A central question in Darwinian theory is how species survive after their origin. According to Darwin, it happens through competition: the fittest survive. But 150 years after Darwin, a more sophisticated understanding of this process remains elusive—and is becoming even more so as our global environment undergoes rapid change.
Dr. Fangliang He, Canada Research Chair in Biodiversity and Landscape Modelling, has developed a substantial research program to document, quantify, and synthesize macroecological patterns of biodiversity. His models and methods have helped estimate species extinction rates, assess threatened species, and predict the effects of climate change on ecosystems.
He and his research team are developing an understanding of how biodiversity is sustained, along with methods to quantify how climate change and changes to the way we use land affect biodiversity.
For this research, He is using a global network of forest dynamics plots as a primary research model. About 50 hectares each in size, these plots were established worldwide to monitor growth and mortality changes in more than six million trees. The data the network provides are essential to understanding species diversity and predicting the effects of climate change on forests. He’s research will lead to new knowledge and methods that may be vital to managing and conserving Canada’s and the world’s biodiversity and ecosystems.