“Measuring and predicting biodiversity loss on a changing planet”

Dec. 4, 2018 from 4:30 to 5:20 p.m. — Physics/Astronomy Auditorium, room A118

Justin Kitzes, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh

[Watch a recording of this seminar on YouTube.]


Increasing evidence suggests that the planet is in the midst of its sixth major mass extinction event. In the coming decades, the central challenge for ecology and conservation biology will be to find ways to rapidly measure, understand, predict, and ultimately prevent this biodiversity loss. In this talk, I will describe two ongoing research projects in our lab: first, developing a new, very general model to predict how changes in habitat area and configuration cause changes in species richness, and second, deploying hundreds to thousands of acoustic recorders to measure changes in bird and bat populations at large spatial and temporal scales. The latter project combines field hardware development, machine learning methods, management of very large data sets (hundreds of terabytes), and open and reproducible science practices.


A photo of Justin Kitzes

Justin Kitzes is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (Environmental Science, Policy, and Management) and his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Stanford University (Earth Systems). His research focuses on understanding and predicting species diversity and distributions in human altered landscapes, as well as applying this knowledge to inform conservation in fragmented habitats. He was previously a Data Science Fellow at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science.