Alan Yanahan's Conference Summary

     Alan Yanahan
     Ph.D. Student
     Entomology & Insect Science GIDP

     Conference Summary
The 9th Biennial Conference of the  International Biogeography Society
     Málaga, Spain


The International Biogeography Society (IBS) was founded in 2001 to promote communication and collaboration between researchers from disparate academic fields to enhance the study and conservation of Earth’s biota.  At this year’s 9th Biennial Conference of the IBS held in Málaga, Spain from January 8­-12, 2019, over 500 researchers from over 50 countries were in attendance.  These included computer scientists, conservation biologists, ecologists, geneticists, geologists, marine biologists, and remote sensing developers.  The IBS conferences are unique in that they are truly interdisciplinary, bringing together researchers that may not meet otherwise.  Consequently, the suite of presentations addresses the fundamental question of biogeography—what are the environmental factors that influence the distribution of species and ecosystems in geographic space and through geological time—from a remarkably diverse set of approaches.  This year’s conference was no exception, with presentations on the latest methodologies as well as the novel ways these techniques are being applied under all manner of spatial and temporal scales, making for a particularly enriching experience. 


The first day of the conference was devoted to workshops and included one on science writing and publishing.  This workshop was led by editors from four of biogeography’s leading journals who offered insights into navigating the publication pipeline from submission, review, proofing, and final publication.  They also provided advice and strategies for optimally crafting each component of a manuscript, especially the Introduction and Discussion sections, so as to expedite its passage through the review process.  Later on in the conference, these same editors led a panel discussion on the ‘Current Publishing Trends in Biogeography,’ where they gave explanations for recent changes to their editorial policies, such as whether to use a double-blind peer review process or remain single-blind and whether or not to go fully open-access.


The remaining three days of the conference each started with a single symposium that everyone attended together.  The symposia featured speakers from a wide-range of disciplines who each brought a unique perspective to the central theme of their symposium.  For instance, there were anthropologists, foresters, geneticists, policy makers, and soil biologists discussing their views on the question of “Do we need to reclassify the tropical and sub-tropical biomes and if so, into what?”  The afternoons were made up of concurrent sessions on a variety of subjects, including biodiversity patterns, climate change, conservation, island biogeography, paleoecology, and phylogeography.  The conference concluded its first two days with an evening poster session.  I presented a poster on the “Impacts of 21st century climate change on montane habitat in the Madrean Sky Island Archipelago” and had several engaging conversations.


I would like to thank the University of Arizona Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs’ Herbert E. Carter Travel Award Program for their financial support.  The 9th Biennial Conference of the IBS was especially informative.  I learned a wealth of new approaches for studying diversity and the forces that impact it through space and time, and I am excited to apply these techniques as I begin a career in conservation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last updated 5 Jun 2019