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An ecosystem is a community of species living in a homogenous climate. In recent years, there have been two major tolls on ecosystems: the global temperature and the growing pressure of human population. Sonia Kéfi researches how these changes impact ecosystems to predict what the ecosystems will look like in 30-40 years. She predicts how the ecosystems will respond and evaluates how much stress it can handle before reaching a tipping point. To give an example of a changing ecosystem, she describes the desertification in Spain: with too many kettle feeding of too little vegetation, there is rapidly less biodiversity. Only saline resistant species survive, but animals do not eat them. Even since the cattle was forbidden in the 70s, the vegetation has not regenerated, because an ecosystem that has been affected by overgrazing can’t easily go back to its original shape. This ecosystem has flipped: a catastrophic transformation has happened. Much like a canoe: a big push can be without consequence, but a little touch can knock it over. And once it is upside down, it is quite hard to turn it over again. But there is also good news: life forms are much more resilient than one would expect. New species can evolve. A new ecosystem can also be perfectly stable; it is just not suited to the life it once sustained.

expert

  • Sonia Kéfi

date

21/11/2015

location

Musée de l’Homme, Paris

is an ecologist at the CNRS at the Institute of Evolutionary Sciences in Montpellier. Her work has focused on designing and testing tools to predict and prevent ecosystems’ degradation.

— INQUIRY: On becoming earthlings
) — PRODUCTION: Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge No. 18
— EVENT: On becoming earthlings: dialogues and exercises in shrinking and expanding the human

is an ecologist at the CNRS at the Institute of Evolutionary Sciences in Montpellier. Her work has focused on designing and testing tools to predict and prevent ecosystems’ degradation.

— INQUIRY: On becoming earthlings
) — PRODUCTION: Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge No. 18
— EVENT: On becoming earthlings: dialogues and exercises in shrinking and expanding the human

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