Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: September 27, 2011 9:17:58 AM PDT
Western's Huxley College Speaker Series to Host Earth Scientist Michael Wilson Sept. 30

Contact: Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment at (360) 650-3520. 

BELLINGHAM – Michael C. Wilson will present "Coming to the Islands: Early Postglacial Vertebrates and Ecosystem Development on the San Juans and Vancouver Island” as part of Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment speaker series at noon on Friday, Sept. 30 in WWU’s Academic West room 304.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

The establishment and succession of early postglacial Pacific Northwest vegetation communities have been interpreted in terms of climatic factors, with vegetation as a "container" for the fauna.  However, first arrivals of particular plant species often depended upon appropriate vectors that included not only wind and water, but also birds and mammals. 

Megafauna such as ungulates (hoofed mammals) and carnivores were significant influences.  Each species had its own arrival time on Vancouver Island via filter bridges, one via the San Juan Islands.  Mountain goats arrived on Vancouver Island about 13,000 years ago;  giant bison were present on the San Juan Islands and southeastern Vancouver Island at about the same time.  Ground sloths reached Orcas Island, and the giant short-faced bear is documented on San Juan Island.  Each species could have imported plant propagules (any plant material used for the purpose of plant propagation), setting in motion an historical cascade of community responses. 

Michael C. Wilson is an interdisciplinary earth scientist trained in Geology, Archaeology, and Anthropology.  His studies of paleontology, paleoenvironments, and the relationships between humans and landscapes have taken him to China, Japan, and West Africa as well as many areas of Canada, the United States, and Mexico. At present he is studying Late Pleistocene and Holocene animals of the Pacific Northwest to understand their role in the establishment of postglacial ecosystems.  He is chair of the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Douglas College in New Westminster, British Columbia, and is adjunct professor of Archaeology at Simon Frasier University. He is also a Fellow of the Geological Association of Canada.

Anyone interested in this topic is encouraged to come and participate; the presentation will include a question-and-answer period. The speaker series is held by Western's Huxley College of the Environment to bring together the environmental-science community and other interested members of the WWU and Bellingham communities.  Speakers address topics of contemporary environmental concern in the region and the world.

For more information, please contact Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment at (360) 650-3520.

Western’s Huxley College of the Environment is one of the oldest environmental colleges in the nation and a recognized national leader in producing the next generation of environmental stewards. The College’s academic programs reflect a broad view of the physical, biological, social and cultural world.  This innovative and interdisciplinary approach makes Huxley unique. The College has earned international recognition for the quality of its programs.

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