The Biodiversity Revolution

We are in the midst of the greatest biodiversity crisis the world has ever seen. The rate of extinction today (the anthropocene) is the highest in the history of the earth. Yet we still have a really poor understanding of the other species inhabiting our planet. For example, we don’t really know how many species there are (current estimates range wildly between 8 and 12 million, depending on who you talk to), and we have only put names to approximately 10-15% of these.

But at the same time there is cause for hope. We live in a period where our rate of technological development and discovery is the greatest in human history. Massive advances in our understanding of the building blocks of life and of their interactions have been aided considerably by developments such as computing, online access and of course the genomics revolution.

This is a time of Biodiversity Revolution, in both positive and negative senses. As a society interested in conserving our biodiversity and biological resources, we ought to be able to use this burgeoning knowledge base to better manage and improve the fate of biodiversity. This collection of articles is dedicated to using technology to increase our rate of discovery of biodiversity and ecosystem processes, and to using science to ensure the continued survival of the planet’s species and ecosystems.


About Prof Andy Lowe

Prof Andy Lowe is a British-Australian scientist and expert on plants and trees, particularly the monitoring, management and utilisation of genetic, biological and ecosystem resources. He has discovered new species, lost forests, championed to eliminate illegally logged timber in global supply chains, served the UN’s Office of Drugs and Crime and has been responsible for securing multi-million dollar research funding. He is an experienced and respected executive leader, as well as mid-career mentor. Andy is the inaugural Director of Food Innovation at the University of Adelaide serving as the external face for all significant food industry and government sectors across South Australia, and the world.
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3 Responses to The Biodiversity Revolution

  1. Ether-Real says:

    How will the normal science lifecycle and timeframe of years, decades even, allow for timely responses to this crisis? Would it be fair to say we know we don’t need more info, we just need less consumption and more habitat?

    • Andy Lowe says:

      less consumptions and more habitat is probably a simple set of objectives to aim for
      however we need to know which habitat to aim for and what it looks like to get ‘maximum biodiversity bang for our shrinking conservation buck’ and also work on how to value biodiversity to drive lower impacts and more sustainable consumption (not necessarily less)

  2. Alison Jobling says:

    Thanks for your comment. In answer to your questions, yes, less consumption would help a lot, as would more habitat, although we have to be careful with the ‘more habitat’ part in case we’re creating problems elsewhere. But habitat without sufficient diversity is like a house of cards with half the cards removed: it’s far more vulnerable to collapse at the slightest nudge.

    And, indeed, to say we “just” need less consumption and more habitat makes it sound so easy…

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