A detailed programme is available to download here (pdf)


Day 1: 6th January 2015, 08:30 – 19:00


Welcome and Introduction

9:00 – 9:20
Nathalie Seddon, Director, Biodiversity Institute, Oxford

Session 1. Linking biodiversity to forest ecosystem functioning

9:20 – 10:45
Convenor & chair: Cécile Girardin (OUCE, Oxford)

Since the launch of the REDD+ programme in 2005, the tropical ecology community has seen a growing interest in forest ecosystem services. Until recently, carbon sequestration has been a main focus of this research. However, the geographical distributions of terrestrial carbon stocks and biodiversity differ, and the consequences of restricting the flow of investment to carbon rich forests must be considered. Our understanding of the mechanistic link between biodiversity and tropical forest ecosystem functioning and resilience remain limited, although studies taking a multi-functional approach to this analysis have found relationships worth exploring. Does higher biodiversity provide the forest with a greater capacity to withstand external pressures and recover from disturbances, thereby maintaining the delivery of ecosystem services?

  • Georgina Mace (University College London): Approaches to defining a planetary boundary for biodiversity
  • Andrew Hector (Plant Sciences, Oxford): Tree species diversity and the functioning, stability and ecological services in forest ecosystems
  • Hannah Griffiths (Lancaster): Linking biodiversity to ecosystem function across trophic levels: invertebrate mediated seed dispersal in tropical forests.
  • Joseph Tobias (Zoology, Oxford): The role of vertebrate diversity in ecosystem function


Session 2: From ecosystem functioning to services

11:15 – 12:40
Session convenors & chairs: Andy Hector and Lindsay Turnbull (Plant Sciences, Oxford)

The use of the ecosystem services concept as a framework for conservation has been controversial. We re-examine the concept and review the biological evidence for the link between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and stability that is a prerequisite for the ecosystem services concept. In particular we examine the scientific evidence for the biological mechanisms linking biodiversity with ecosystem functioning and stability. 

  • Lindsay Turnbull (Plants, Oxford): Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in metacommunities
  • Michel Loreau (CNRS, France): Biodiversity and stability of ecological systems at multiple scales
  • Forest Isbell (University of Georgia): The biodiversity-dependent ecosystem service debt
  • Drew Purves (CEES, Cambridge): Biodiversity in Global Ecosystem Models


12:40 – 13:40: Lunch


Session 3: Macro-scale perspectives on the origin and maintenance of biodiversity functioning

13:40 – 15:05
Convenor & chair: Alex Pigot (Groningen, Netherlands and Zoology, Oxford)

Our understanding of the functional importance of biodiversity has advanced greatly over recent decades. However, most theory and empirical research has focussed on small scale experimental systems and the consequences of biodiversity loss in situ. This session will explore the role of biodiversity over larger spatial scales—ranging from landscapes to the entire Earth system—where the movement of organisms, flow of nutrients and feedbacks between life and climate become critical elements in maintaining ecosystem function and stability.  

  • Tom Bell (Imperial College London): Evolving the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationship
  • David Mouillot (Montpellier): Functional redundancy vs. functional vulnerability in fish faunas of tropical reefs
  • Alex Pigot (Netherlands/Oxford): Functional diversity and the functioning of avian seed dispersal networks
  • Andrew Gonzalez (Mcgill): Linking biodiversity to multiple ecosystem functions with the metacommunity framework: insights from theory and nature


Session 4: Waves of wealth: the value of biodiversity in the oceans

15:35 – 17:00
Convenor & chair: Rachel Cavanagh (British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge)

The ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, yet more than 95% of the underwater world remains unexplored. It has a vital role in the Earth System not least in terms of nutrient cycling and climate regulation, and we rely on it for many societal benefits including fishery products, biotechnological products and tourism. Given that the oceans are integral in sustaining life on Earth, what do we really know about the importance of its biodiversity, and how do we value it? We will present an overview of current research from across a range of marine environments to consider the role of biodiversity in ecosystem functioning, climate change and food security. We will also discuss issues from the science-policy interface in managing the consequences of human activities on marine ecosystems and the services they provide.

  • Mel Austen (Plymouth Marine Lab): Marine ecosystems provide important services, but do we actually value them?
  • Camilo Mora (University of Hawaii): We punch nature and it will punch us back: human impacts on biodiversity and their feedbacks
  • Graham Pilling (Secretariat of the Pacific Community, New Caledonia): Marine biodiversity and sustainable fisheries; how important are they for food security in the Pacific?
  • Sybille van den Hove (Median, Barcelona): The values of biodiversity: what can we learn from the precautionary principle?


17:10 – 17:45: Quick fire poster session in lecture theatre


17:45: Drinks


Day 2: 7th January 2015, 08:30 – 18:30

8:30 – 9:00 REGISTRATION

Session 5: Biodiversity goods and bads: the role of biodiversity in poverty alleviation

9:00 – 10:25
Convenor & chair: Dilys Roe (IIED)

In international policy there is an explicit assumption that conserving biodiversity helps tackle global poverty. For example Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity agreed in 2001 “to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss …. as a contribution to poverty alleviation …” , and this is mirrored by the inclusion of biodiversity indicators as one element of measuring progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Indeed, a high level meeting at the September 2010 UN General Assembly further stressed the link, claiming:  “…preserving biodiversity is inseparable from the fight against poverty”. This relationship is not, however, a self-evident truth. Furthermore these international assertions tend to overlook the inconvenient truth that sometimes biodiversity can be bad for you – if you are a victim of human-wildlife conflict, or if you suffer from biological pests, or vector borne diseases for example. This session will explore some of the different relationships between biodiversity and poverty – good and bad, tangible and intangible.

  • Dilys Roe (IIED): What does the evidence tell us about biodiversity’s contribution to poverty alleviation?
  • Terry Sunderland (CIFOR): Biodiversity is good: Forests, food security and nutrition
  • Lykke Andersen (Institute for Advanced Development Studies – INESAD, Bolivia): Biodiversity can be bad: ecosystem disservices and their impact on poverty
  • Arthur Mugisha (IUCN, Uganda): Biodiversity benefits can be intangible: biodiversity and culture as an element of poverty alleviation


Session 6: How will biodiversity loss impact our capacity for innovation?

10:55 – 12:20
Convenor & chair: Richard Grenyer (OUCE, Oxford)

When we lose a species, we lose the anatomical, chemical and behavioural characteristics that are unique to them. These characteristics can therefore no longer act as the inspiration for technological innovation: extinction, it has been argued, is an assault on the intellectual property of the future, and on the economic growth that may stem from it. So should accounting for this loss of economic potential be part of how we estimate the value of biodiversity, and if so, how?

  • Arne Mooers (Simon Fraser University): The option value of phenotypic and phylogenetic diversity
  • Robert Scotland (Plant Sciences, Oxford): Predictivity, phylogeny, serendipity and traits of interest
  • Ed Anderson (Oxford): The relationship between diversity and natural product chemistry
  • Dr Anthony Flemming (Syngenta UK): Natural product chemistry in modern agriculture


12:20 – 13:10: Lunch


Session 7: Who captures biodiversity value?

13:10 – 14:20
Session convenor & chair: Paul Jepson (OUCE, Oxford)

The concept of biodiversity has achieved phenomenal impact as a framework for policy and science. Twenty-five years on since the term ‘biodiversity’ appeared on the scene, this session will ask who captures value by foregrounding diversity of species as the desirable end goal of policy.  This session will take the longer view (a century and a half) and seek to contrast the beneficiaries of the biodiversity policy frame with those of earlier conservation policy concerns, such as wise use (of natural resources), forestalling species extinction, natural beauty, outdoor recreation and the new frame of ecosystem services. In so doing, this session will ask whether biodiversity policy affords the diverse forms of value creation needed to assure widespread support for the conservation of the earth’s natural capital. 

  • Paul Jepson (OUCE, Oxford): Biodiversity:  is the term constraining the value societies can derive from protected area assets?
  • Rosleen Duffy (SOAS, University of London): The Power Conservation(ists): Capturing value via global alliances


Session 8: How far can economic valuation approaches succeed in conserving biodiversity and ecosystems? Ethical and practical considerations

14:50 – 16:50
Session convenor & chair: Anthony Waldron

Recent policy initiatives and discourses around conserving biodiversity have increasingly focused on giving an economic valuation to biodiversity (including ecosystem diversity), to motivate its preservation. This approach is rapidly becoming mainstream, and so it is timely to ask what the philosophical and pragmatic issues associated with the approach are, how far they can be overcome, and what new thinking might be needed.

  • Dieter Helm (Smith School, Oxford): A policy framework for protecting and enhancing natural capital
  • John O’Neill (University of Manchester): Markets in biodiversity: keeping your biodiversity healthy
  • Bram Buscher (Erasmus University, Rotterd): Valuing natural capital: solving a problem with the same logic that created it?
  • Don Maier (California): Five reasons to doubt that biodiversity saliently matters for its economic value
  • Georgina Mace (University College London): Means and ends for the valuation of biodiversity


17:15 – 18:05
Chair: Nathalie Seddon

We will start the final session by discussing how we should best combine instrumental (valuation) and ethical (stewardship) arguments for conserving biodiversity. Each of our panellists will give a brief overview of their take on this difficult issue. The debate will then be thrown open to the audience. If you would like to contribute a question to the session, please email them to the Chair by 4 pm (nathalie.seddon@zoo.ox.ac.uk). Otherwise, we will simply take questions from the floor.

Donald S. Maier (Sebastopol, California)
Dilys Roe (IIED)
Robert May (University of Oxford)
George Monbiot (The Guardian newspaper)
Charles Godfray (University of Oxford)
Sybille van den Hove (Median, Barcelona)


18:05 – 18:15
Nathalie Seddon


18:15 – 19:15

Conference ends


Page last updated on: 05/01/2015