Keynote Speaker

Disentangling a Century of Climate and Land-Use Change on California Birds and Mammals: The Grinnell Resurvey Project

Steven R. Beissinger, University of California, Berkeley

Forecasts of global climate change on biodiversity typically relate recent species’ occurrences with climate variables to project future ranges, often with alarming conclusions. While evidence supports temperature-driven range expansions poleward, there is substantial variation in responses among species. Assessments have been limited by evaluating range change over short time spans, or by not accounting for the confounding effects of land-use change and false absences. Historical resurveys – where biodiversity surveys from the past are resampled – provide important opportunities to understand the influence of 20th century environmental change on biodiversity and to establish new benchmarks for understanding future change. Here I report on a decade-long effort to resample locations throughout California that Joseph Grinnell and colleagues originally surveyed for birds and mammals from 1908-1934.

Steve Beissinger is Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he held the A. Starker Leopold Chair in Wildlife Biology (2003-2013), and is a research associate of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Professor Beissinger’s professional career has been devoted to producing ecological knowledge that can be used to both conserve biodiversity and to uncover basic processes in behavioral and population ecology that govern how nature works. His current research centers on two of the biggest challenges facing conservation and society –wildlife responses to global change and species’ extinctions – with recent work carried out in protected areas and working landscapes in California and Latin America. He has authored over 190 scientific publications and is senior editor of three books, including the forthcoming Science, Conservation and National Parks (Univ. of Chicago Press). Steve is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU), which awarded him the William Brewster Memorial Award in 2010 for his research on Western Hemisphere birds. Steve served on the Board of Directors of the National Audubon Society (2002-2009), and as President-elect (2014-2016) and President (2016-2018) of the AOU.