International Conference ‘Botanists of the Twenty-first Century: Roles, Challenges and Opportunities’

Organized by UNESCO in collaboration with various partners, the international conference ‘Botanists of the twenty-first century: roles, challenges and opportunities’, will be held at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, in Room IV, from 22 to 25 September 2014.

Without plants, Earth would be a planet without life

Since its emergence 3.8 billion years ago with the first aquatic chlorophyllous organisms, photosynthesis has become a vital process making possible the spread of life across the planet. For thousands of years, plants have colonized aquatic and terrestrial environments, continuously adapting to the natural dynamics of their environment. They created the conditions that led to the emergence and maintenance of animal life, and form the very basis of terrestrial ecosystems.

UNESCO image

Plants provide various ecosystemic services essential to humanity. Plant science, long supported by medicine, because of the medicinal, even magical, properties of plants, began to grow in the fifteenth century. Botany as a separate science was reinforced by the expeditions of the sixteenth century with its flourishing trade. In the twentieth century, botany diversified into increasingly specialized disciplines ranging from physiology to plant ecology, genetics and phytosociology. A multifaceted science, the practice of botany has been transformed in recent decades by technological advances and the expansion of disciplines.

The twentieth century has witnessed the disappearance of natural ecosystems, loss of biodiversity at the global level and loss of traditional knowledge, all of which threaten the very foundations of this science. At the beginning of the twenty-first century botany is undergoing profound changes. Botanists are facing a changing world. They must apply their knowledge and expertise to meet the actual needs of societies; address new economic, social and environmental challenges; and contribute to the preservation of biodiversity.


Introducing ATBC Councilor 2014-2016: Nobby Cordeiro

Council 2014-2016

Council 2014-2016

NOBBY CORDEIRO is an Associate Professor of Biology/Ecology at Roosevelt University and a Research Associate of The Field Museum, Chicago, USA.  Born and raised at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro allowed him to explore a number of ecosystems which was important in helping to build his foundation in biodiversity in modified landscapes. He has deep interests in mutualisms, plant-animal interactions, and tropical forest regeneration, and most specifically how these interactions or processes are affected by human-caused disturbances in tropical Africa. Together with colleagues, he continues long-term investigations on these aspects, now spanning over 14 years, in the East Usambara Mts, Tanzania. He also has keen interests in the digital and scientific divide between the North and South (or richer versus poorer nations), as it relates to dissemination of applied scientific research and ultimately infrastructure.

Norbert Cordeiro
Associate Professor
Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL, USA
Research Associate, The Field Museum

Megafauna and Ecosystem Function: from the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene


For the conference poster, please click HERE

Oxford University’s Ecosystems Research Programme will host a three-day conference examining the role that large animals (megafauna) play in ecosystem function in the context of past, present and future ecosystems.  The conference will consider how the extinction of large animals in the past has altered the structure and function of ecosystems (from the Arctic to tropical rainforests), and discuss the patterns and ecological consequences of modern-day megafaunal decline.  Potential for ‘rewilding’ and the reintroduction of megafauna will also be explored. 
We welcome further applications to present posters at the conference (A0 size).  


Conference registration fees 
Please note that the conference registration fee includes daytime food (lunch and coffee breaks), it does not include accommodation nor evening meals.
Registration fee for the three days: £300 for standard registration, and £200 for concession registration (concessions are available to students, to Oxford University staff and to senior citizens).

Registration and payment should be made at the following website:

Please note: Unless booked early, we cannot guarantee that accommodation (separate fee, on the registration website) will be availableFormally invited speakers (not accepted applicant speakers) are exempt from registration fees, accommodation and evening meal costs, but would need to pay for their own travel.  Thank you. 

Introducing ATBC Councilor 2014-2016: Yadvinder Malhi

YM selected48Yadvinder Malhi is Professor of Ecosystem Science at the University of Oxford, Senior Research Fellow at Oriel College, and Director of the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests. His work has focussed on understanding the functioning of tropical forests and their interaction with agents of global and regional change, including global atmospheric change. This work encompasses range of approaches including networks of forest monitoring plots, ecophysiological and meteorological approaches, and satellite remote sensing. His passion for tropical forests was first kindled whilst working in Brazil in the mid-1990s, where he was co-founder of the RAINFOR forest plots network and the ABERG 3500 m elevation transect study system in the Andes. More recently his interests have spread to research in Asia and particularly Africa, the most understudied tropical forest continent. He founded the Global Ecosystems Monitoring network (GEM), which works with local partners and students to monitor in fine detail the functioning of tropical forests at over 40 sites across the tropics. He has a strong interest in understanding how we can maximise resilience and viability of tropical forests in the context of the Anthropocene, and in building the scientific capacity of tropical forest nations.

Professor of Ecosystem Science, University of Oxford
Senior Research Fellow, Oriel College
Director, Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests

Introducing ATBC new President-Elect: Jaboury Ghazoul

Ghazoul_Jaboury_colA5Jaboury is a frustrated field ecologist. He enjoys nothing more than being in the field, be it in the tropics or in temperate Europe, trying to figure out why things are the way they are. Unfortunately, he is more usually tied to the office where he regards, with envy, the exciting work that his students and postdocs are doing.

Even so, he greatly enjoys applying his plant ecological expertise to important societal challenges ranging from conservation to climate change adaptation to food production. He also enjoys questioning mainstream thought; sometimes he is even right.

He strongly believes in the value of placing ecological ideas within wider societal contexts, a view that has been particularly shaped by work in Vietnam, Thailand, India and Scotland.

Jaboury has been a member of the ATBC for longer than he cares to remember, and was Editor of Biotropica from 2006 to 2013. Through the ATBC he has met a great many interesting people bursting with ideas and insights, and he is looking forward to meeting many more.

Jaboury Ghazoul
Professor of Ecosystem Management
Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems
Department of Environmental Systems Science
ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Introducing ATBC Councilor 2014-2016: Kyle Harms

We are pleased to introduce one of the four new ATBC Councilors for 2014-2016, Dr Kyle Harms.

KyleHarms_on_DonStoneBridge_March2012 Kyle Harms is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he teaches undergraduate courses in conservation and ecology, as well as graduate courses in community ecology.  His principal research interests concern the ecological and evolutionary processes that give rise to and maintain patterns in high-diversity plant communities, especially tropical forests and sub-tropical pine savannas.  He grew up in rural Iowa, but has since worked in the field, with colleagues, and with data sets from all five tropical continents.  He attended Iowa State University as an undergraduate.  A seven month field season in Chile helped orient him towards graduate school and a dissertation project in Latin America.  He earned his Ph.D. at Princeton University by completing a research project on Barro Colorado Island.  He enjoyed post-doctoral stints at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, University of California at Santa Barbara, and Cornell University, before he accepted his faculty position at LSU.

Kyle Harms
Department of Biological Sciences
Louisiana State University, USA

XTBG-OTS Climate Change Fieldcourse (16th June-16th July, 2014) open for registration


Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences (XTBG) will be hosting a graduate field course on the ‘Ecology of Climate Change in the Tropics and Subtropics’ this summer, from June 16th to July 16th, in collaboration with the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS).

The instructors will come from China, the USA, the UK and Australia. XTBG is in charge of recruiting students from China and the rest of Asia, while OTS is recruiting in the USA and Latin America.

More details are available on the web sites below. If you have graduate students who are interested, they need to apply very soon, as we have a very limited number of places available. We will also consider recently graduated ‘early career’ researchers.

Course Website (English)

Course Website (Chinese)

Announcement Poster (PDF)

Introducing ATBC Councilor 2014-2016: Jennifer Powers

We are pleased to introduce one of the four new ATBC Councilors for 2014-2016, Dr Jennifer Powers.

Jennifer PowersJennifer Powers is broadly trained in ecosystems ecology, biogeochemistry, and plant ecology, and has worked in tropical forests in Central and South America for over 19 years.  The long-term goal of her research program is to understand how biophysical factors and human activities shape biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of tropical forests.  Her current projects include a long-term study of how changes in land use such as deforestation and forest regeneration affect the balance of carbon on the land and in the atmosphere in Costa Rica, and a study of the effects of woody vines on ecosystem processes and community dynamics in Panama.  In addition, she co-founded and co-directs the non-profit organization Investigadores del Área de Conservación Guanacaste.

Jennifer Powers
Associate Professor
Departments of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior and Plant Biology
University of Minnesota, Minnesota, USA

The next best thing: how well do secondary forests preserve biodiversity?

Secondary forests, which are areas that were previously cleared of old-growth cover, now comprise the majority of the forested areas in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. A heavily debated issue is to what extent secondary forests are able to contribute to the preservation of biodiversity. In an article published in PLOS ONE, a group of researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute led by Michiel van Breugel evaluated the biodiversity preservation potential of secondary forests. However, while they found that secondary forests can provide suitable homes for broad arrays of species, the true biodiversity potential of these forests is often limited by cycles of reclearing.