Understanding and managing ecological novelty - towards an integrative framework of the socio-ecological risks of novel organisms

Monte Verita, 4-9 September 2011


Conference Topic

Humans have become the dominant driver of almost all natural processes in the biosphere. Anthropogenic changes are leading to a reshuffling of species assemblies from local to global spatial scales and, additionally, novel organisms created in laboratories enter ecosystems. It is expected that these changes are leading to new behaviours of ecological systems and 'ecological novelty' is becoming widely acknowledged. Different fields of science including invasion biology, risk research on genetically modified organisms or synthetic organisms, and climate change research deal with the ecological risks, valuation and management of novel organisms but exchange between these science circles is rare. Risks and management of novel organisms is a topic that requires both natural and social scientists expertise but such transdisciplinary collaborations are even more rare. The aim of the conference is to bring experts from these different disciplines together and jointly work towards an integrative framework of the socio-ecological risks of novel organisms and in particular to bridge the expertise of invasion biology, gmo risk research, and risk research related to climate change induced migration.

The first four days of the workshop will be devoted to the main meeting, and will be attended by around 60 participants. The program consists of keynote lectures for our information and inspiration, as well as approximately 20 contributed presentations and poster presentations selected among submitted abstracts from participants with ample room for discussions.

On the final day, the keynote speakers and organizers will remain to develop a joint framework based upon the previous discussions. Other interested participants are welcome to join this group effort. It is intended to publish the proceedings and outcome of the joint framework as a special issue in a leading scientific journal.


ETH Zurich     Centro Stefano Franscini     Swiss National Science Foundation     Stiftung Mercator Schweiz