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Asian climate, tectonics and biodiversity hybrid conference

05 - 07 September 2022
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Event type:
Conference, Hybrid
Organised by:
Geological Society Events
Hybrid In person at Burlington House and Virtual via Zoom
Event status:

This event was originally due to take place on 1-3 September 2021, however due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19 we have postponed this event so it can be held in a hybrid format, offering delegates the option to attend in person at Burlington House or virtually. 

How do tectonics and climate force surface processes and the evolution of biodiversity in Asia?

This meeting will examine this long-standing question by unraveling coupled geodynamic and Earth surface processes that impact environmental conditions and the biosphere across different spatial and temporal scales. 

With ongoing human alteration of the Earth’s ecosystems and rapid global warming, there is an urgent need to understand the response of biotic communities and environmental change. Examining how past climate change influenced biological diversity around topographically complex and tectonically active systems provides unique information about their ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Specific insight on how rapid climate and landscape changes impacted ancient life will shed light on the origins and governing factors of biodiversity hotspots and thus inform conservation efforts. Eventually, this information can guide policy decisions under projections for a rapidly warming climate to ensure that we preserve biodiversity of our ecosystems into the future, which is essential to global economic, social and cultural prosperity. 


  • Dr Guillaume Dupont-Nivet (CNRS - Géosciences Rennes, France)
  • Dr Tara Jonell (University of Glasgow)
  • Dr René Dommain (University of Potsdam, Germany)
  • Prof Peter Clift (Louisiana State University, USA)

Keynote speakers

  • Prof Oliver Jagoutz (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)
  • Prof Carina Hoorn (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)
  • Robert A Spicer (The Open University, UK)
  • Dr Thomas von Rintelen (Natural History Museum, Leibniz-Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Research, Germany)
  • Prof Robert Morley (Palynova)


All full programme will be added in due course.

Day 1 AM. Emile Argand session. Asian Geodynamics, Orogenesis and Paleogeography

Keynote: Pr. Oliver Jagoutz. Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science, MIT, USA.

Determining accurate paleogeograhy through time of terranes transported from Gondwana over the Tethys to Eurasia has considerable implications on Biosphere evolution. However, the tectonic accretion of Asian terranes and associated orogenic uplift history remains unsettled. In particular, the onset, growth and relief of major topographic features, such as the Himalayas or the Tibetan Plateau are highly controversial and depend on hotly debated geodynamic models for the India-Asia collision. Understanding how topography has evolved is critical to constraining how this may have interfered with regional environmental changes (monsoons, Jet Stream, desertification) and affected global climate and the CO2 cycle.

Day 1 PM. Alfred Wallace session. The Fossil Record of Asian Paleobiogeography

Keynote: Pr. Carina Hoorn Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The rich fossil record of Asia informs us on the dynamic history of land masses and climate but importantly provides a window in which to explore the past conditions of organismic origins, extinctions and biotic interchange that cannot be studied with modern observations. In this session we welcome contributions on the paleobiogeography of Asia based on paleontological studies ranging from megafauna to microfossils from both the terrestrial and marine plant and animal realms. What can the fossil record tell us about biotic consequences of the continental collisions between India and Asia and between Australia and Asia in terms of biotic exchange and the assembly of biodiversity? How does palaeontology inform us on the evolution of endemic organisms that characterize Asian biodiversity hotspots? And can paleoenvironmental inferences from the fossil record be reconciled with independent paleoclimate reconstructions?

Day 2 AM. Amadeus Grabau session. Asian Climate, Environment and Ecological evolution

Keynote: Pr. Robert Spicer – Professor of Earth Sciences in the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Open University, UK.

Reconstructing the past evolution of Asian climate, environments and ecology are key to identify and understand controlling mechanisms and interactions between the Geo- and Biospheres. Major efforts are currently focused on building accurate proxy records and climate model experiments. Together, integrated data and models enable interpretations to be made using the geological past as a key to future predictions. However, the onset and intensity of major atmospheric, environmental and ecological components (e.g. monsoons, desertification, loess, C3-C4) remain controversial such that their driving mechanisms (regional paleogeography vs. CO2) remain hotly debated.

Day 2 PM. George Louis Buffon session. The Evolutionary path to Asia’s Present Biodiversity

Keynote:Dr. Thomas von Rintelen – Evolution and Geoprocesses, Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany.

The mountains of Asia and the islands of Southeast Asia host some of the richest biodiversity on Earth and support the greatest concentration of biodiversity hotspots on the planet. How did this exceptional diversity originate? The rapid development of molecular phylogenetic approaches has revolutionized our general understanding of diversification and biotic assembly over time and provides a timely opportunity to address outstanding questions on the evolution of Asia’s modern biota. How do phylogenetic, phylogeographic and genomic perspectives challenge or support existing models on centres of origin, species dispersal, vicariance and the diversification of fauna and flora in relation to past climate change and tectonics across Asia? Do integrated phylogenetic data sets from different taxa show congruent or individual evolutionary responses to geodynamics in this tectonically active region?

Day 3 AM. Alexander von Humboldt session. The interactions of Life and Earth

Keynote:Pr. Robert Morley – Life Sciences and the Environment, Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway, London, UK.

Alexander von Humboldt developed a deep appreciation on the linkages between the biosphere, climate and geosphere, which inspires the desire for reintegration of modern bio- and geoscience observations under a more holistic approach to decipher the interactions and feedbacks between life and Earth. Asia provides unique settings to study the interactions of geological processes, climate dynamics, biotic evolution and ecological responses on various spatial and temporal scales. This closing session hosts integrative studies that focus on deciphering the connections between abiotic phenomena (e.g. Earth surface processes, climate variation, soil development, hydrology) and the biosphere in terms of species richness, evolution and in shaping biogeochemical cycles and feedbacks. How does the geosphere control biotic processes and in turn how does the biosphere modulate Earth’s surface and climate?

Day 3 PM. Excursion to the Natural History Museum


Registration for this conference will be open shortly.


 Fellow  £80.00
 Speaker £65.00
 Corporate Patron £80.00
 Non-Fellow  £120.00
 Student Fellow  £0
 Student Non-Fellow £25.00 

In person: 

 Fellow  £180.00
 Speaker £140.00
 Corporate Patron £180.00
 Non-Fellow  £230.00
 Student Fellow  £0.00
 Student Non-Fellow £50.00 

Call for abstracts

We invite oral and poster abstract submissions for the meeting by Wednesday 8 June 2022. Abstracts should be approximately 250-350 words and include a title and acknowledgement of authors and their affiliations. Please fill out this form


This event will be held in a hybrid format, delegates can either attend in person at Burlington House or virtually.

The Geological Society
Burlington House


Please email with any enquiries.

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