One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century will be to get the full measure of the multiple interactions between human societies and ecological systems, and to change the model of human development to consciously integrate humans as part of the biosphere. While the consequences of global climate change are now relatively well understood, the same cannot be said of changes in biodiversity. Yet current biodiversity changes are at least as alarming as climate change, with projections of species extinction rates of the order of 10,000 times higher than average rates in the geological past of the Earth. Such massive biodiversity losses are likely to have dramatic consequences for both ecosystems and human societies.
The global biodiversity crisis calls for an integrative biodiversity science that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. Although an integrative biodiversity science is slowly emerging, the lack of a unified theoretical framework and of integrated predictive models of biodiversity changes is a serious handicap for both science and policy. Building unified theories and models of biodiversity changes is probably the greatest challenge of the nascent biodiversity science.
The Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling (CBTM) aims to meet this challenge by fostering the development of unifying theories and predictive models of biodiversity changes and of their ecological, evolutionary, and societal causes and consequences.
The CBTM promotes innovative, integrative research on a wide range of topics related to this overarching goal, including the following:
- unifying approaches to the generation, maintenance and loss of biodiversity;
- predictive models of biodiversity changes and of their ecological and societal consequences;
- effects of biodiversity changes on ecosystem functioning, stability, and services;
- spatial dynamics of biodiversity and ecosystems;
- adaptive responses of ecosystems to environmental changes;
- societal causes of, and responses to, biodiversity changes.
The CBTM promotes collaborative research. It is home to a vibrant research team, but it also hosts international working groups, workshops, postdoctoral fellows and visitors. Current working groups, workshops, postdoctoral fellows and visitors hosted by the CBTM are linked to research carried out at the Centre. But our objective, conditional upon obtaining appropriate funding, will be to develop fully-fledged programmes supporting working groups, workshops and visitors based on open calls for proposals.
The CBTM is also in charge of biodiversity-related activities in the AnaEE France infrastructure project.