Biodiverse Anthropocenes profiling theme presents: Special Guest Seminar with Visiting Fellows

Join us to listen to the presentations by Visiting Fellows of the Biodiverse Anthropocenes program, as they share insights into their research, experiences at the Programme and the University of Oulu. Engage in discussion on Monday, April 8th, from 10:00 to 12:00 at Tellus Frost Club.

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Our Guest Speakers are, Dr. Maria Joana Ferreira da Silva, Dr. Mardi Reardon, and Dr. Keith Crandall.

Dr. Maria Joana Ferreira da Silva: is a Biosciences researcher with expertise in Biological Anthropology and Conservation Biology. She studies the impact of human activities on African non-human primates across Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Mauritania, and Mozambique.

"Primate conservation genetics in Guinea-Bissau. West Africa, and implications for management."
In Guinea-Bissau (GB), located in West Africa, there are at least 10 species of non-human primates threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation and commercial hunting. Conservation genetics is a subdiscipline of conservation biology whose main objective is to reduce the risk of extinction through genetic processes and preserve the adaptive potential of species. Demographic aspects of NHP populations and their adaptive potential were assessed in 21 works carried out from 2006 to 2022 in the south of the country and in the Bijagós archipelago, mostly using non-invasive molecular techniques. The aim of the studies was to investigate i) the diversity and range of species, ii) the population structure and gene flow patterns; iii) the diet, and iv) to characterize conservation threats, such as commercial hunting to supply wildmeat markets. The use of non-invasive DNA samples confirmed the occurrence of species that were thought to be extinct, and species distribution was updated. Most primates showed high levels of genetic diversity but decreasing demographic trajectories. Commercial hunting threatens 6/10 primates in the country. We conclude that conservation genetics can improve the management of primate populations in GB and could be extended to other threatened species.

Dr. Mardi Reardon: is an environmental anthropologist and early career researcher with a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Sydney. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Deakin University.

"In the weeds: theorising anthropological approaches to invasive plant species and their control in northern Australia."
As climate change and biodiversity loss dismantle the world’s ecosystems, we are becoming a planet of weeds. The spread of invasive plant species poses acute challenges to human and non-human life. The proliferation of invasive plant species around the world threatens biodiversity, economic livelihoods, and in some instances – like northern Australia – climate change mitigation programs. Across northern Australian rangelands and protected areas, controlling weeds is a significant focus for a variety of land managers. Invasive species control is shaped by landscape legacies and imagined futures for northern Australia, revealing much about what kinds of landscapes different people are seeking to cultivate. Weeds and their control also impact on human bodies in ways both direct and more dispersed and insidious. The herbicides used in weed control can have long-lasting legacies held in human bodies and genealogies, but so too do weeds themselves impact on humans through the transformation of landscapes and the threat they present to livelihoods, economic viability, and possible futures. Building on work in multispecies anthropology, critical plant studies and STS scholarship on toxicities, my research explores what is being cared for in weed management and in what ways practices of care have created harms.

Keith Crandall: is the Director of the Computational Biology Institute at George Washington University in Washington DC, USA. He is a bioinformatician with training and research in evolutionary biology, population genetics, and conservation. He works on crustacean biodiversity, especially as members of critical freshwater habitats.

"Genomics, Conservation, & Sustainability."
Omics technologies (genomics, transcriptomics, metagenomics, etc.) have revolutionized insights into organismal diversity, evolutionary history, and functional diversity – all critical elements of effective conservation, management, and sustainability practices. Advances in new data types require novel computational tools to effectively take advantage of such data and integrate with additional relevant data (e.g., demographic, economic, climate, geologic, etc.). The Crandall Lab develops tools for omics data analyses (especially DNA/RNA sequence data) and integration with other data types. Some of these tools and applications will be demonstrated with ongoing research projects around microbiome research, conservation, and sustainability with links to ongoing international projects including FutureEarth, World Registry of Marine Species (WoRMS), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and associated Species Survival Commission (SSC).

Last updated: 26.3.2024