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EPS Seminar: Origins and Paleoconservation of Southeast Asian Rainforests - Dr. Peter Wilf

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Southeast Asia's hyperdiverse, endangered tropical rainforests have assembled from multiple sources, reflecting the region's dynamic geological history. Our multinational paleobotanical team is advancing biogeographic understanding and paleoconservation of SE Asian rainforests through field studies in several historical source areas, including Patagonia, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Borneo. Concurrently, we are developing a computer-vision application for fossil-leaf identification as a breakthrough tool for the project and general paleobotany. This seminar will spotlight our recent discovery of the first fossil-leaf floras from Brunei, representing the first study of Cenozoic compression floras in the Malay Archipelago for ca. 100 years. The work shows that the principal structural and compositional features of northern Borneo's lowland vegetation have changed little for at least 4–5 million years. I will conclude with a survey of our two-decade project on Cretaceous–Eocene floras of Argentine Patagonia, which has revealed historical ranges in West Gondwana for numerous iconic, high-biomass SE Asian trees such as kauris, gums, and Asian chinkapins. Our discoveries inform conservation and illuminate the high-risk biogeography of Anthropocene SE Asia.

Dr. Peter Wilf, professor of geosciences at Penn State, is a paleobotanist who uses fossil plants to investigate ancient ecosystems, past environmental change, biogeography, and the evolution and extinction of plants and plant-insect associations. His research emphasizes questions of relevance for modern climate change, biodiversity, biogeography, and conservation. Field work with his students includes Argentina, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, the Western US, and Pennsylvania. Dr. Wilf is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Paleontological Society, and the Geological Society of America and a recipient of the Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching from Penn State.

For the zoom information; please contact Rey Garduño (