University of St Andrews

I-Power Lecture to be presented by Professor K.J. Willis

The Institute for Population, Well-being and Environment Research (I-Power) is delighted to welcome Professor K.J. Willis (University of Oxford) who will be presenting the I-Power Lecture.

The event will take place in the Forbes Room, Irvine Building, from 1.00 - 2.00 pm on Wednesday, 10 May 2017.


Biodiversity conservation: What have 100 years of palaeoecology taught us about where, what and when to conserve?

Professor K.J. Willis

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3EA, UK (

Oxford Long-term Ecology Laboratory, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, OX1 3PS, UK.



The early 1900s were important years for newly emerging scientific disciplines that focused on the environment. The development of palaeoecology, culminating in the Swedish naturalist and geologist Lennart von Post’s 1916 lecture in Oslo advocating the use of fossil pollen grains preserved in peatbogs to reconstruct changes in vegetation composition through time, was one example. Another was the emerging narrative in the US on the preservation of wilderness. This culminated in a scientific discipline focused on methods to conserve natural environments through sustainable practices of planned use and renewal. Thus at the same time that the discipline of palaeoecology was gaining first recognition, so too was the discipline of what is now called biodiversity conservation.

This talk will examine the synergies and differences in approaches of these two emerging disciplines to ask how the knowledge of vegetation dynamics over time and the use of long-term ecological records, has informed biodiversity conservation.