FRIDAY • FEBRUARY 17, 2012 • 7 p.m. • POWER CENTER BALLROOM
Professor Peter D. Ward, Ph.D.
Department of Biology
The University of Washington
MASS EXTINCTIONS: The Third Tier of Evolution
Charles Darwin’s seminal theory of evolution by natural selection, reinforced and expanded with many later studies over nearly 150 years, has developed into a comprehensive science of evolutionary biology—a framework that can explain biological change occurring over a short time in populations, as well as changes that have unfolded over many millions of years.
In 1985, however, Stephen Jay Gould proposed that the phenomenon of mass extinction also has had an underappreciated effect on the history of life, and constituted a new level of biological evolution, a level that was at once unpredictable and yet profound in its consequences.
Join renowned paleontologist Dr. Peter D. Ward as he discusses the causes of major mass extinctions – periods of time when more than half of all species on earth disappear – and the evolutionary effects these major events have had in shaping the modern biota. Perhaps most importantly, Ward will ponder the pivotal question: Are we experiencing a new mass extinction driven by human-induced climate change?
This lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.