Mark Vellend

Professor, Biology
Université de Sherbrooke




Following a postdoc at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis I joined the University of British Columbia as a Canada Research Chair in 2005.  In 2011 I moved to Université de Sherbrooke, where my research focuses on plant population and community responses to environmental change. Ecologists have a tendency to interpret most ecological changes as somehow “bad” when in fact ecological change might be exactly what is required for ecosystems to thrive in an altered world.  I hope LCAB can minimize such value judgements, and thus provide a balanced view of past and future biodiversity gains and losses.


Using historical data sources and contemporary field surveys, my students and I have quantified changes in plant community diversity and composition during recent decades and centuries. Testing explicit predictions about expected changes due to particular environmental drivers – e.g., upslope shifts in species distributions due to climate warming – allows us to draw inferences about likely underlying processes. I also maintain a strong interest in fundamental theory for explaining patterns in ecological communities. Collaborators and I conducted the first major meta-analysis on temporal biodiversity changes in local-scale plant communities, sparking a wave of interest and controversy over the scale-dependence of biodiversity change, with the core result (no temporal change in species richness, on average) confirmed in a group synthesis paper published in Science. My research is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, including a team grant for the Canadian Airborne Biodiversity Observatory.

Publication Highlights 

Blowes, S. A., Supp, S. R., Antão, L. H., Bates, A., Bruelheide, H., Chase, J. M., Moyes, F., Magurran, A., McGill, B., Myers-Smith, I.H., Winter, M., Bjorkman, A.D., Bowler, D., Byrnes, J. E. K., Gonzalez, A., Hines, J., Isbell, F., Jones, H., Navarro, L.M., Thompson, P., Vellend, M., Waldock, C. & Dornelas, M. 2019, The geography of biodiversity change in marine and terrestrial assemblages. Science 366: 339–345.   

Becker-Scarpitta, A., Vissault, S. & Vellend, M. 2019, Four decades of plant community change along a continental gradient of warming. Global Change Biology 25:1629–1641. 

Vellend, M., Baeten, L., Becker-Scarpitta, A., Boucher-Lalonde, V., McCune, J.L., Messier, J., Myers-Smith, I.H. & Sax, D. 2017. Plant biodiversity change across scales during the Anthropocene. Annual Review of Plant Biology, 68:563-586. 

Vellend, M. 2017. The Biodiversity Conservation Paradox. American Scientist 105:94-101. 

Vellend, M., Baeten, L., Myers-Smith, I.H., Elmendorf, S.C., Beauséjour, R., Brown, C.D., De Frenne, P., Verheyen, K. & Wipf, S. 2013. A global meta-analysis reveals no net change in local-scale plant biodiversity over time. 2013. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 110:19456–19459. 


Find out more about Mark's work

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Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity

Contact us

Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity