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Ontario Tech University Dean to play leading role in global invasive species study

Dr. Peter Stoett’s appointment highlights university’s strengthening international connections

Sustainable development advocate  Peter Stoett, PhD, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, will co-chair a three-year international study that will fully assess existing knowledge about invasive alien species.
Sustainable development advocate Peter Stoett, PhD, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, will co-chair a three-year international study that will fully assess existing knowledge about invasive alien species.

Amidst all the recent news related to environmental sustainability and climate change, you may not be aware that invasive alien species are among the top five threats to biodiversity and nature on the planet.

Well-known examples of invasive (non-native) species in Ontario include purple loosestrife plants in wetlands and zebra mussels in lakes. In Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego province, beavers from North America have a substantial negative impact on the local landscape and ecology. Invasive species can carry deadly pathogens and destroy food crops and fisheries.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) says invasive alien species numbers have skyrocketed by 70 per cent in nearly two dozen monitored countries over the past half-century (source: May 2019’s IPBES Global Assessment Report).

Species that are not native to a specific location or ecosystem can damage habitats by robbing local species of vital nutrients and mating opportunities; they can have a long-lasting impact on human health and the economy. Climate change is further compounding the problem as both local and invasive species adjust to warmer temperatures and more acidic water in the oceans.

The United Nations has tapped the Germany-headquartered IPBES to lead a three-year global study that will fully assess existing knowledge about invasive alien species and current efforts to control their threats, the first global report of its kind.

Ontario Tech University’s Peter Stoett, PhD, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, will co-chair the study with Professors Helen Roy (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, United Kingdom) and Aníbal Pauchard (University of Concepción in Chile). They will head a team of more than 70 expert authors selected from a large pool of international nominations.

A first draft of the report is expected to be ready for open expert review by Summer 2020.

Quotes

“It’s an honour to be asked to lead this team of first-class international expertise. Once completed, this study will offer governments and decision-makers at all levels the best available evidence on the array and spread of invasive alien species around the world. Beyond impacts on biodiversity, we’ll also examine their effect on human health and livelihoods, levels of public awareness, the effectiveness of current control measures and options for further policy and action.”
-Dr. Peter Stoett, Dean, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Ontario Tech University; and Co-Chair, IPBES Key Assessment of Global Alien Species

“The overwhelming coverage and impact of the IPBES Global Assessment Report has demonstrated renewed concern, understanding and commitment to action to reduce and reverse the destruction of nature at every level. The three eminent scientists chosen to lead this new IPBES assessment will have the opportunity to seize this momentum and to build on it in the context of the new post-2020 international framework for biodiversity that will be adopted in China at the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference of the Convention on Biological Diversity.”
-Dr. Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary, IPBES

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Media contact
Bryan Oliver
Communications and Marketing
Ontario Tech University
905.721.8668 ext. 6709
289.928.3653
bryan.oliver@uoit.ca