Upcoming Talks

Melissa Kemp

Image is a headshot of Melissa Kemp, a black woman with long dark hair. She is standing outside in front of a blurred tree in the background, is wearing a light yellow shirt and smiling at the camera

University of Texas at Austin, USA

July 5, 2022

Extinction, Colonization, and Conservation in a biodiversity hotspot: Lessons from the Caribbean fossil record

The Caribbean is one of the most well-studied biodiversity hotspots, regions that in total cover less than 3% of the Earth’s surface yet host the majority of the planet’s endemic species. But the diversity of today’s Caribbean is only a fraction of what once existed there, as climate, sea-level fluctuations, and multiple human colonization events have restricted the ranges of many species, or worse, contributed to
their extinction. Given this past history of environmental perturbations, paleobiology is
well-suited to inform ongoing conservation needs in this system. Such perspective from
the past is essential now more than ever before, as continued habitat degradation, non-
native species introductions, and ongoing range contraction, extirpation, and extinction
threaten to erode the remaining biodiversity. My research explores how one seemingly successful group of Caribbean vertebrates, the lizards, have been impacted by environmental perturbations throughout the Pleistocene, Holocene, and into the
Anthropocene. By utilizing historic museum specimens and fossils from paleontological
sites, as well as the entire breadth of modern Caribbean lizard diversity, I unveil extinction biases and colonization patterns within the Caribbean, and the ramifications of these dynamics on community structure and resilience. These observations have transformed how we understand lizard extinctions globally and have the potential to
shape conservation policy for this dynamic group of vertebrates.

Ian Castro

University of Cincinnati, USA

July 12, 2022


Michael Kipp

CalTech, USA

July 19, 2022


Anjana Khatwa

Wessex Museums, UK

July 26, 2022


Matteo Fabbri

Field Museum of Natural History, USA

August 2, 2022


Sean Thatcher

August 9, 2022


Jazmin Scarlett

University of East Anglia, UK

August 16, 2022


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