What can our planet teach us about saving it – and ourselves?
This subject has been the topic of Dr. Tony Barnosky’s research for years, and he will share his findings at his Chautauqua lecture on Thursday, Nov. 5, at Eastern Kentucky University. A professor of integrative biology, curator of the Museum of Paleontology and principal investigator of the Barnosky lab, all at the University of California, Berkeley, he will present “Dodging Extinction, Saving the Planet, Saving Ourselves” at 7:30 p.m. in O’Donnell Hall of the Whitlock Building. His talk, free and open to the public, also serves as the annual Bruce MacLaren Distinguished Lecture.
As a paleobiologist, Barnosky examines the fossil record in order to better understand what constitutes and causes mass extinctions and how this knowledge can help us assess current threats to biodiversity and generate solutions that can be employed before it is too late.
His work has studied how changes in the physical environment, such as climate change and mountain building, contribute to the evolution of mammal species and faunas at varying temporal and geographic scales. Field aspects of his work include collecting fossils that can be dated using various techniques and conducting lab analyses that utilize database and GIS systems to identify faunal changes through space and time. The faunal patterns are then compared with independently identified changes in the physical environment to test various evolutionary and biogeographic predictions.
Barnosky is the author of several recent books. His most recent, written with his wife, Stanford University professor Elizabeth A. Hadly, is “End Game: Tipping Point for Planet Earth,” published in 2015. He also wrote “Dodging Extinction: Power, Food, Money and the Future of Life on Earth,” published in 2014, which was praised as “nothing short of a guidebook for saving the planet.”
He has also published hundreds of articles in major journals and is a founding contributor to new transdisciplinary journal “The Anthropocene Review.” The work of Barnosky and his lab was featured in the 2014 Smithsonian Channel documentary “Mass Extinction: Life at the Brink,” which was presented at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and picked up by major media outlets, including The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, NPR and The Guardian.
Barnosky was made a Protector of Yellowstone National Park in 1998 for his accomplishments in promoting and conducting quality scientific investigations to benefit the future of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and was declared an Everyday Hero in 2006 by the Chancellor of UC Berkeley for his contributions to undergraduate education.
His lecture is sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences, the College of Education and the Honors Program.