Watch the full seminar here

Camille’s research focuses on the impacts of climate change on wild plants and animals. Early work detailed behavioral, ecological and evolutionary aspects of insect/plant interactions. For the past 25 years, her focus has shifted towards biological impacts of anthropogenic climate change in natural systems. This research spans from detailed field-based work on individual butterfly species and communities to synthetic analyses of global impacts on a broad range of plants and animals across terrestrial and marine biomes.

Camille is soon to join the CNRS Ecology Center in Moulis, France, as part of President Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again program.


13.30 Welcome and introduction

Göran K Hansson, Secretary General, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Clas Hättestrand, Vice President, Stockholm University

Åsa Persson, Research Director, Stockholm Environment Institute

13.45 Memorial Lecture
The Spectre of Conservation in a Time of Rapid Change
Camille Parmesan, Professor at School of Biological Sciences at Plymouth University in Plymouth, UK and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Geological Sciences – University of Texas in Austin, Texas, USA

14.30 Scientific discussion
Camille Parmesan

Alexandre Antonelli, Professor at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg

Lisen Schultz, Research Fellow and Deputy Science Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholms University

Moderator: Fredrik Moberg, Communications Advisor, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholms University

15.15 Coffee break

15.45 Panel discussion
Camille Parmesan

Mark Marissink, PhD. Deputy Directior Environmental Analysis Department, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, and Head of Swedish delegation to IPBES

Tuija Hilding-Rydevik, Professor and Director of Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences and Uppsala University

Louise König, Senior Sustainability Consultant, previous Sustainability Director and Key Opinion Leader for several large Swedish retailers, the food sector amongst others

Moderator: Toby Gardner, Senior Research Fellow, Stockholm Environment Institute

16.45 Concluding remarks

Toby Gardner, SEI

17.00 Mingle and refreshments 


The Spectre of Conservation in a Time of Rapid Change

Climate change is but the latest in a series of ever-increasing anthropogenic pressures on natural systems, yet there are fundamental differences between this relatively new threat and traditional anthropogenic stressors that have challenged ecological research over the past century. With greenhouse gas emissions continuing to rise, earth is rapidly approaching a climate regime that has not been experienced for hundreds of thousands of years.

There have been several global as well as regional meta-analyses of observed impacts of anthropogenic climate change on the distributions of species around the world. Camille gave an overview of these results, focusing on the “big picture” trends that have emerged from changes across terrestrial, marine and freshwater systems. These analyses have documented that about half of plants and animals have shifted their ranges towards the poles and up mountainsides. About two thirds have advanced their spring phenologies, attempting to track the shifting climate in both space and time. To date, most of these changes have had relatively little negative impact on those species. However, we are starting to see negative impacts on the most vulnerable species – i.e.those occurring solely in sensitive systems, or those that have already been highly impacted by other anthropogenic stressors.

Recent studies highlight a fundamental problem driving many wild species to the brink of extinction: humans can change their actions faster than wildlife can adapt. Climate change isn’t the only human-driven change happening at an ever rapid pace. Land use and land management practices are changing just as fast. Preservation of biodiversity in the face of these multiple anthropogenic changes will require novel forms of management and unconventional measures of ‘success’.

Some conservation options bring up ethical issues that question the philosophical foundation of traditional conservation – that is, when should we give up on a species? Successful conservation will increasingly depend on trans-national cooperation, both in terms of research and policy applications. Creative conservation solutions are not without risk, but successful conservation in a time of rapid environmental change will be that which recognises that doing nothing carries risk as well.

About the series

This annual memorial lecture is in honour of Gordon Goodman, founding director of the Beijer Institute at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences from 1977–1989 and the Stockholm Environment Institute from 1989–1991.