Track 4

Track 4: The natural world in the Anthropocene

Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are under threat in terrestrial and aquatic systems across the globe. The success of the human species results in the (over)exploitation and destruction of natural resources, altered global biogeochemical cycles and even changed our climate. How will our nature look like in the future? Will species and ecosystems be able to adapt and recover, or is their collapse inevitable? And what is the role of humans? Are we up for the challenge of preserving and restoring the integrity of our planet for future generations? We will focus on three themes: populations, ecosystems and human societies.

  1. Populations: we will explore the characteristics of winners and losers of the natural world in the Anthropocene. We aim to gain insight into how species interact with their environment and can cope with new environmental conditions, or become even more successful than before (e.g. via range shifts or rapid evolutionary adaptations).
  2. Ecosystems: interactions between species and how these affect ecosystem processes are central. We focus on newly discovered interactions and processes in natural and man-made landscapes, as well as state-of-the art insights in anthropogenic impacts on ecosystem functions and possibilities to counteract negative impacts.
  3. Human societies: the human species and its options for shaping the future of the natural world will be discussed. What are the major lessons we learned from ecology about the interdependence of humans and the natural world? How will humanity tackle the key challenge of safeguarding the natural world for future generations? In this theme we envisage multi-disciplinary contributions.

Invited speakers

Track committee

Gerlinde de Deyn (NERN, WUR)
“The languages of the natural world are the gateways to new universes on Earth.”

Johan Mols (Naturalis)

Erik Smets (Naturalis Biodiversity Center)

Steven Declerck (NIOO-KNAW)
“The Life2019 congress is a much needed initiative to combine the strengths of Dutch life sciences”