Aarhus Universitets segl

Inaugural Professor Lecture

You are cordially invited to join the official inaugural lecture of Professor Hanna Tuomisto, Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity, Department of Biology, Aarhus University.

Oplysninger om arrangementet


Fredag 26. januar 2024,  kl. 14:00 - 17:00


Aarhus University, Auditorium D1, building 1531-113, Ny Munkegade 116-118, 8000 Aarhus C


14.00: Welcome by Head of Department Hans Brix

14.05: Presentation by Associate Professor Wolf Eiserhardt

14.15: Lecture by Professor Hanna Tuomisto: On the distribution of Amazonian plant species: figuring out the where and why

14.45: Informal reception outside the auditorium.

The lecture will be held in English.

Best regards,

Hans Brix
Head of Department


On the distribution of Amazonian plant species: figuring out the where and why

Amazonia has long intrigued biologists thanks to its huge size and enormous species richness. It is also well known for being poorly known: all the imaginable shortfalls that plague biodiversity research are rampant in Amazonia. Many species remain undiscovered, and even for the already named species, little is known about their geographical distributions, abundance patterns, niche requirements, functional traits, interactions with other species, or evolutionary relationships. Modern technology helps to partly overcome some of these shortcomings, but proper filling of the knowledge gaps is still to a large degree dependent on old-fashioned legwork and expert-based observations. At the same time, the high rate of forest loss, which is largely due to advancing beef and fodder production, imposes a feeling of urgency: are we going to understand the high biodiversity of these forests and how they function before it is too late?

In my own work, I have focused on clarifying how plant species composition varies across the rain forests of Amazonia, and to what degree that variation can be explained by geological and climatic heterogeneity. This lecture focuses on what we have learned about these issues. In an ecological context, the why can help to resolve the where: by combining observations of species occurrences with present-day environmental data, we can understand the species' niche requirements and make predictions about where they might be found in addition to the sites where direct observations have been made. In an evolutionary context, we can use genomic data to build family trees for the species and use them to make inferences about why speciation may have happened in the first place. Was it mostly driven by adaptation to new environmental conditions, or random change due to geographical isolation? The results concerning the past and present give us some idea on how species are likely to cope with environmental changes in the future.