© 2015 Cardiff Scientific Society

Endangered Species Research: Patterns, Process, Prioritisation and Politics

Professor Michael W. Bruford PhD

School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

Biodiversity is currently experiencing the sixth major wave of extinction since life evolved on earth. Previous extinction events are thought to have been triggered by major geological eruptions and global impacts. This current extinction crisis is, however, different and is now agreed to be anthropogenic in its origin, the first example of the actions of a single species negatively impacting on global biodiversity in Earth's history.

Since humans have largely caused the current extinction event, humans also potentially hold the key to reversing the trend and it is in this context that the science of conservation biology first emerged after the publication of the Silent Spring in the early 1960's. The science of biodiversity conservation has evolved dramatically in the nearly 50 years it has been recognisable and now includes molecular biology, global information systems and complex modelling of ecosystem/climate interactions. Our work, based mainly in the tropics and mostly focusing on flagship mammal species, uses molecular genetics (DNA profiling) of endangered populations to elucidate their demographics, history and future prospects. I will focus on work we have been doing in Borneo and China, specifically with the giant panda and Bornean orang-utan and elephants, to develop integrated conservation solutions for these vanishing species, including the science involved but also the political and practical issues of converting scientific research into direct action for conservation and sustainable biodiversity management.

1 October 2008 Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Cardiff University