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Ecological uniformitarianism — help or hindrance to palaeoecology, palaeoclimatology and conservation biology?

Date: 2‒3 July 2024
Location: Online (by Zoom)
Hosted By: The Palaeontological Association
Organised By: ALA Johnson and J-F Cudennec (University of Derby), EM Harper (University of Cambridge), JAI Hennissen (British Geological Survey), RJ Twitchett and TS White (Natural History Museum, London)   
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Following the success of a pump-priming event in 2022 (Ecological uniformitarianism 1), this online meeting will reunite a diverse community of earth and life scientists to discuss the stability of ecological niches. Earth scientists have long taken the (pseudo-)uniformitarian view that niches are stable and hence that the environments of fossil organisms can be interpreted from the ecology of modern counterparts. Niche change is, however, demonstrated by many invasive speakers. Whether niches are stable or labile has major implications not only for interpreting past environments but also for predicting future communities in the face of ongoing climate and other environmental change. We invite offers of talks (deadline 12 February 2024) concerning niche stability/lability over various taxa and timescales to complement invited lectures from a set of prestigious speakers (see below). Online publication of the proceedings is planned under one of the Association’s titles.


The organisers are keen for participants from the wide range of scientific fields to which the topic relates and from economically disadvantaged as well as advantaged backgrounds. To the latter end, funds generously contributed by the Quaternary Research Association will be used to provide a waiver of the £20 registration fee for participants from low- and lower-middle income countries (as defined by the World Bank). 

Abstract and registration deadlines, etc.

The abstract deadline is 12 February 2024 and the registration deadline 13 May 2024 (later registration with a surcharge of £5). Details of the submission/payment methods will be posted on this website by the end of November 2023, together with an abstract-decision date, presentation guidelines, etc. In drawing up the programme we will endeavour to schedule talks according to the local day-time of speakers.

Confirmed (invited) speakers

Paolo Albano (Anton Dohrn Zoological Station, Naples) — future species’ ranges from last-interglacial evidence
Joanne Bennett (Australian National University) — evolution of thermal tolerance
Kate Britton (University of Aberdeen) — reconstruction of Quaternary mammal niches
Harry Dowsett (US Geological Survey) — stability of foram environmental preferences
Jean-François Cudennec (University of Derby) — niche stability and change in Cenozoic bivalves
Greg Dietl (Cornell University) — niche issues in relation to conservation palaeobiology
David Horne (Queen Mary, University of London) — Quaternary‒Recent ostracod niche stability
Bruce Lieberman (University of Kansas) — metabolic rate and species extinction/survival
Sierra Petersen (University of Michigan) — Δ47 estimates of habitat change in molluscs
Erin Saupe (University of Oxford) — niche histories from ecological niche modelling
Lynn Wingard (US Geological Survey) — restoration of the Everglades ecosystem: guidance from the past

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