New Centre for Biological Diversity
The number of species inhabiting Earth is steadily declining, both on land and in our seas. This development needs to be stopped, but doing so is not an easy task.
"That’s why a new centre of expertise and research is opening at the turn of the year, the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre," says Professor Alexandre Antonelli, who will serve as director of the centre.
The way he sees it, researchers and students in the field of biodiversity need to collaborate more and also explain better to the public and decision makers why the work to protect species and nature is so important.
Even though people’s knowledge about nature is decreasing overall, there is a strong and genuine interest in animals and plants, not least in Sweden.
‘Many people are already contributing to greater biodiversity without even knowing it. For example, they may be growing plants that attract bees and bumblebees, putting up bird tables to feed birds in the winter or choosing organic food,’ says Antonelli.
The University of Gothenburg Successful in Biodiversity Research
The University of Gothenburg is already internationally successful in the field of biodiversity research, Antonelli’s own research team is one example, so there is plenty of knowledge to build on.
Initially, the new centre will host collaboration involving 13 different institutions in west Sweden, including Gothenburg Botanical Garden, the Maritime Museum & Aquarium, the Gothenburg Museum of Natural History, the Nordens Ark zoo, the Universeum science centre, Havets Hus and Chalmers University of Technology.
This wide-ranging cooperation is important, as biodiversity is an interdisciplinary field that includes systematics, ecology, conservation biology, mathematics, geography, genetics, social sciences, economics and much more.
‘The idea is to focus on the various issues instead of on which agencies and organisations the staff belong to,’ says Antonelli.
Lead the way in biodiversity research
The primary tasks of the members of the centre will be to expand and further develop the research on biodiversity, as well as to build stronger connections between researchers, decision makers and the public.
‘The work at the centre will be based on four pillars: discovery, learning, exploration and protection. More specifically, this implies expanded research through biological inventories and sampling, modernisation of the laboratory environment for sequencing of species and more collaborations.’
It also means that the centre will be able to advise government agencies on biodiversity issues, and its members will participate in public events and disseminate information to the public and schools to stimulate awareness and engagement.
‘We want to give biodiversity its due space in the public debate. We want it to be an issue that everybody talks about and gets involved in, both young and old,’ says Antonelli.
The Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre, GGBC, will open 1 January 2017 and will be hosted by the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. Initially, the Centre will involve the following parts of the University of Gothenburg: the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, the Department of Earth Sciences, the Department of Marine Sciences, the Herbarium, the Centre for Sea and Society and the Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology.
Other members of the centre are: Gothenburg Botanical Garden, the Maritime Museum & Aquarium, the Gothenburg Museum of Natural History, the Department of Energy and Environment at Chalmers University of Technology, the Nordens Ark zoo, the Universeum Science Centre and Havets Hus.
Alexandre Antonelli, professor at the Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, scientific curator at Gothenburg Botanical Garden and member of Young Academy of Sweden.
Tel: +46 (0)703 98 95 70
Group photo: The steering committee of the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre. From left to right, top: Robert Björk, Mats Töpel, Alexandre Antonelli, Jan Westin, Helen Sköld, Ulrika Palme, Björn Källström. Bottom: Ellen Larsson, Kennet Lundin, Mari Källersjö. (Photographer: Sven Toresson)