Boris Worm

Dr. Boris Worm

MSc (University of Kiel, Germany, 1996),
PhD (University of Kiel, Germany, 2000)
PostDoc Dalhousie University (2000-2003)
PostDoc Leibniz Institute for Marine Science, Kiel, Germany (2003-2004)
Assistant Professor in Marine Conservation Biology, Dalhousie University (2004-2008)
Associate Professor, Biology, Dalhousie University (2008-2011)
Full Professor, Biology, Dalhousie University (Since 2012)

  • Teaching & Research
  • Students' Research Topics
  • Publications
  • Links
  • Teaching & Research
    marine conservation biology, biodiversity science, community ecology, macroecology

    y interests in teaching and research focus on the causes and consequences of changes in marine biodiversity, and its conservation on a global scale. The oceanic ecosystem is by far the largest on Earth, covering more than 70% of the planet by area and an even larger percentage by volume. Human domination of this ecosystem is rapidly expanding through the effects of overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and climate change. Serious conservation concerns arise as many species are driven to dangerously low levels.

    Classes in which Boris currently teaches:

    Apart from looming species extinctions there are some wider ecosystem concerns. Species do play an important role in maintaining aquatic ecosystem functioning and the elimination of some large predators and herbivores from inshore areas has triggered cascading ecosystem effects, which contributed to the loss of ecosystem goods and services and the collapse of some coastal ecosystems. If similar changes occur in the open ocean they are bound to be massive in scale, and probably difficult to reverse. This is why our lab tries to quantify both patterns and trends in marine biodiversity, to understand the consequences of these changes, and to document practical solutions that can halt or reverse deleterious trends. In our research my students and I employ a combination of experimental, observational, and analytical techniques.

    Conservation biology, BIOL 3065: This class offers an introduction to conservation biology, the science of understanding and conserving biodiversity on Earth. Scientists recognize that humans are affecting biodiversity, and that the consequences are deleterious to species, ecosystems, and ultimately our society. This class has two goals: (1) to learn how patterns and changes in biodiversity are quantified and tracked over time and space, and (2) to learn about methods and tools used to prevent the extinction of species and the disruption of habitats and ecosystems. Examples come from terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Tutorials involve student presentations on key papers in conservation biology as well as windows-based computer simulations. Both ecological principles and the management implications of conservation biology will be discussed in detail.
    Term: Winter
    Pre-requisites: BIOL 2060.03, STAT 1060.03

    Examples of Students'Research Topics
    • Greg Britten (M.Sc, since 2012): Time-varying population dynamics of marine fish stocks. Greg is resolving temporal changes in the population dynamics of marine fishes.
    • Aurelie Cosandey-Godin (PhD, since 2010): Elasmobranch bycatch in the Canadian Atlantic: Composition, biogeography, and mitigation. Aurelie analyses bycatch hotspots of shark and skate species in the Arctic, Newfoundland and Labrador, Gulf, and Maritimes regions in Atlantic Canada.
    • Daniel Boyce (PhD, since 2007): Macroecological changes in the open oceans. Dan quantifies the patterns and processes which structure open ocean ecosystems, with a special focus on the causes and consequences of changing phytoplankton concentration.
    Selected Publications

    Worm B, Branch TA (2012) The future of fish. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 27: 594-599

    Worm, B. & Tittensor, D. P. (2011) Range contraction in large pelagic predators. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108: 11942–11947

    Mora C, Tittensor DP, Adl S, Simpson AGB, Worm B (2011) How many species are there on Earth and in the ocean? PLoS Biology 9: e1001127

    Boyce DG, Lewis MR, Worm B. (2010) Global phytoplankton decline over the past century. Nature 466: 591-596.

    Tittensor DP, Mora C, Jetz W, Lotze HK, Ricard D, Vanden Berghe, E, Worm B (2010) Global patterns and predictors of marine biodiversity across taxa. Nature 466: 1098-1101

    Worm B, Hilborn R, Baum JK, Branch TA, Collie JS, Costello C, Fogarty MJ, Fulton EA, Hutchings JA, Jennings S, Jensen OP, Lotze HK, Mace PA, McClanahan TR, Minto C, Palumbi SR, Parma AM, Ricard D, Rosenberg AA, Watson R, Zeller D. (2009) Rebuilding global fisheries. Science 325: 578-585,