Text full multimedia monochrome

First time here?

Find out more about how The Lecture List works.

Coronavirus situation update

Our lecture organisers may or may not have had time to update their events with cancellation notices. Clearly social gatherings are to be avoided and that includes lectures. STAY AT HOME FOLKS, PLEASE.


Find out what you can do to keep The Lecture List online

‘Taxonomy, Systematics and Conservation Biology’

We are very uncertain how many species there on Earth today, much less rates of extinction. The resulting problems for effective conservation action and current efforts to address these will be surveyed

Over the past century, documented extinctions in well-studied groups have been at rates one hundredfold to one thousandfold above the average extinction rates seen over the half billion year sweep of the fossil record. But for most groups, particularly invertebrates, we are very uncertain how many species there on Earth today, much less rates of extinction.
His talk will survey several aspects of the resulting problems for effective conservation action, along with current efforts to address these problems. These include: current levels of investment in the underpinning disciplines of taxonomy and systematics (for the UK in the light of the recent House of Lords Select Committee Report, and elsewhere); potentially helpful advances in using IT to consolidate existing information; speeding up acquisition of new information by “parataxonomists” and other techniques of collecting and cataloguing, along with DNA barcoding. Finally, he will discuss the use of such information to assign conservation priorities more on a basis of maximising the preservation of “independent evolutionary history” and/or ecosystem services than – as present – more on a basis of sentimentality (useful tool though it is in fund raising).

Robert McCredie May, Lord May of Oxford, OM AC Kt FRS, holds a Professorship jointly at Oxford University and Imperial College, London and is a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He was until recently President of The Royal Society (2000-2005), and before that Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government and Head of the UK Office of Science and Technology (1995-2000). His career includes a Personal Chair in Physics at Sydney University aged 33, Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology and Chairman of the Research Board at Princeton, and in 1988 a move to Britain as Royal Society Research Professor. Particular interests include how populations are structured and respond to change, particularly with respect to infectious diseases and biodiversity. He was awarded a Knighthood in 1996, and appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1998, both for “Services to Science”. In 2001 he was one of the first 15 Life Peers created by the “House of Lords Appointments Commission”. In 2002, The Queen appointed him to the Order of Merit (the fifth Australian in its 100-year history). Honours include: the Royal Swedish Academy’s Crafoord Prize (bioscience and ecology’s equivalent of a Nobel Prize); the Swiss-Italian Balzan Prize (for “seminal contributions to [understanding] biodiversity”); and the Japanese Blue Planet Prize (“for developing fundamental tools for ecological conservation planning”). He is a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, an Overseas Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, and an Honorary Fellow of various other Academies and Learned Societies. In 2007 he received the Royal Society’s Copley Medal, its oldest (1731) and most prestigious award, given annually for “outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science”.


Professor Lord Robert May of Oxford | talks


Date and Time:

16 October 2009 at 6:30 pm


2 hours



London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Keppell Street

Show map

Organised by:

Ecology and Conservation Studies Society
See other talks organised by Ecology and Conservation Studies Society...




Available from:

E-mail: environmentevents@FLL.bbk.ac.uk for booking and venue details. (tel: 020 7631 6473)

Additional Information:

Booking essential. Doors open at 6.00pm
This is one of six lectures on consecutive Friday evenings from 16 October to 20 November inclusive, on the subject of 'What's in a Name? - Taxonomy and Biodiversity' Saving our Experts from Extinction
Full details of all speakers and their lectures are available at http://www.bbk.ac.uk/environment/news/lectures

Register to tell a friend about this lecture.


If you would like to comment about this lecture, please register here.


Any ad revenue is entirely reinvested into the Lecture List's operating fund