What’s on : Lectures

Mapping the Anthropocene impact on the biosphere

15 Oct 2019
Start time
7:30 PM
Tempest Anderson Hall
Professor Mark Williams, University of Leicester

Event Information

Mapping the Anthropocene impact on the biosphere

‘How people have totally changed the pattern of life on Earth’

Professor Mark Williams
School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, University of Leicester.

Most species on planet Earth have ecological ranges defined by factors such as latitudinal changes in surface temperature and rainfall, or geographical isolation. These patterns have evolved over millions, sometimes tens of millions of years. This natural pattern is being overprinted by the actions of Homo sapiens, which has made the whole Earth its ecological range. The human ancestral pattern of gradually increasing influence on the Earth can be traced in the stratigraphic record for nearly 3 million years, as a time transgressive pattern beginning in Africa, and gradually extending throughout the world by the late Pleistocene. However, in its later and more pervasive stages, particularly from the mid to late 20th century onwards, it provides intercontinental patterns of species distributions with clearly identifiable biostratigraphical signatures that may help to define an isochronous stratigraphical boundary for the Anthropocene. Moreover, these biostratigraphical patterns map a profoundly human-changed biosphere.

Nuffield Partnership Award students will present their research on posters in the Atrium of the Museum at 6.15pm – further details to follow.

Poster image of Alexander Von Humboldt and Aimé Boupland in South America formulating key ideas about the biosphere.