Dr. Brad Lister’s Science on Tap talk – Tuesday, May 28 @ 6:30

Science on Tap in Saratoga is a series of informal talks and discussions about science. Started in 2018,  Dr. Kurt Smemo from The Environmental Studies and Sciences Program at Skidmore College and Dr. Wendy Mahaney from Sustainable Saratoga wanted to find a way to increase the communication between scientists and the public. The result, Science on Tap in Saratoga is a series of informal talks and discussions led by regional scientists and researchers. Monthly talks will address a diverse array of contemporary scientific research topics and debates. Click here to see the full 2019 schedule.

This year, we have a new location – The Parting Glass – to accommodate the high turnout at these events. We also welcome the Saratoga Performing Arts Center as partner in our efforts.


Dr. Brad Lister, from the Department of Biological Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will discuss “Climate warming, insects, and collapsing food webs” on May 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Synopsis: In this talk I will address an issue of central importance to the future of our planet: the global collapse of insect populations. We will first travel to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico and discuss the results of ongoing research on the forest ecosystem that I began in 1976.  I will present evidence that over the past 40 years insect populations in the forest have plummeted and that this has precipitated a simultaneous decline in forest insectivores. The implications of these results for rainforests and other ecosystems from the arctic to the equator will be discussed.

About the Speaker: Dr. Lister’s recent field research has focused on the impact of climate warming on ectotherms (an animal that is dependent on external sources of body heat) in the Luquillo rainforest and the Guanica tropical dry forest in Puerto Rico. Part of this work involves comparisons of the current niche relationships and abundances of resident anoles and arthropods, with studies that he conducted in the 1970s. Over that time period, the average temperature of the rainforest has increased by 2.2 degrees C. Comparisons over time show major changes in resource utilization, abundances, and sex ratios of several Puerto Rican anoles, and have documented a 10-20 fold decline in numbers and biomass of arthropod prey. Dr. Lister was just awarded the Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation award for contributions to global biodiversity. You can read some of the recent coverage of his research in The Guardian and in The Washington Post.

Admission is free and all ages are welcome. Come early to get settled so the talk can start promptly at 6:30.

Click here for our 2019 schedule.