PRIDE-RCMNS conference 2018

PRIDE-RCMNS conference 2018

Interim colloquium of RCMNS* and

EU PRIDE final conference 2018:


Ecosystem isolation and connection: rise and demise of biota in the Pontocaspian region

27-29 August 2018

Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgian National Museum




We cordially invite you to the joint PRIDE-RCMNS conference, 27-29 August 2018 in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

The terrestrial ecosystems of the Caucasus region and the lacustrine and marine Pontocaspian basins have a dynamic intertwining Neogene and Quaternary history. Landscape evolution in these areas is driven by an interplay of tectonic processes and climate that affected the evolution of Caucasian and Pontocaspian biota simultaneously. In time intervals when lake basins were connected, terrestrial areas were isolated and in times lake basins were isolated terrestrial corridors existed. This affected the evolution of the terrestrial and aquatic biota in various ways. In this conference we will explore the evolution of the Caucasus-Pontocaspian region and its effect on the evolution of the biota in this wonderfully diverse region that currently faces many threats to its unique biodiversity. 

We have identified four session topics and a panel session (there might be changes):

 I  Geological and climatic drivers of biodiversity in the Pontocaspian in the Neogene and  Quaternary
 II  Rise and fall of Pontocaspian biodiversity – origins and controls
 III  Neogene and Quaternary Terrestrial Ecosystems in the Southern Caucasus
 IV  The role of invasive species in the current Pontocaspian biodiversity crisis
 V  Panel discussion 

The PRIDE-RCMNS conference aims at bringing together geologists, biologists and climatologists from the region and from beyond. We will invite senior keynote speakers but also encourage the participation of scientists and students from the region itself. The conference will contain invited keynote speakers, integrated science talks where various researchers combine their background to shed light on specific topics, regular session talks and posters. 

We invite all interested to send in abstracts using the template provided on this website from 29 January 2018 on. Abstract submission deadline is 1 May 2018.

The conference will be held at the Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi. We will have one day of talks and two hours poster presentations, a day with an excursion to the Hominid site of Dmanisi, and another day with talks and poster presentations. The official language of the conference will be English.

 Sunday 26 August    18.00-20.00  registration and ice breaker
 Monday 27 August  08.30-09.45 registration
   09.45-19.00  talks, poster presentations and conference dinner
 Tuesday 28 August  10.00-19.00  excursion to the famous Hominid site of Dmanisi
 Wednesday 29 August   10.00-19.00  talks, poster presentations and panel discussion
 Thursday 30 August   07.00-23.00  post conference field excursion (optional)


Questions or comments: We hope to welcome you and look forward to an inspiring conference with you!


Further details – The sessions

I Geological and climatic drivers of biodiversity in the Pontocaspian in the Neogene and Quaternary

                The Black Sea, Caspian Sea and satellite basins (Ponto-Caspian basins) have undergone substantial hydrological and environmental changes since the Pliocene. Interaction between climatic and tectonic activity led to regional landscape restructuring and changes of the basins’ water budgets, which in turn caused numerous connection/disconnection events. However, the origin, time and impact of these climatic and environmental changes are still a matter of debate.

We invite submissions that aim to understand the impact of different paleoenvironmental changes on biodiversity and evolution of biodiversity in semi-isolated basins. This session especially encourages submissions that combine climate modelling, geological, geochemical and paleobiological proxies. Session coordinators: Diksha Bista, Liesbeth Jorissen, Sergei Lazarev, Sifan Koriche, Sri Nandini, Tom Hoyle.

Keywords: paleoenvironment reconstruction, climate modelling, inter basin connectivity, tectonics, semi-isolated basins, water budget, Pontocaspian region, biological proxies. 

II Rise and fall of Pontocaspian biodiversity – origins and controls

                Since the 1930s, aquatic biota of the Caspian and Black Seas are facing a biodiversity crisis. Understanding of long-term biotic responses to biotic and abiotic perturbations over the past five million years (i.e. effects of the Quaternary glacial cycles, lake level changes and geological structuring) can help us understand the current crisis, preserve the biodiversity of this region into the future, and plan conservation efforts.

The Pontocaspian species downfall is a textbook example of a biodiversity crisis. By analysing the species evolution and response to environmental changes, we aim to understand speciation and extinction processes. By gathering knowledge on biogeography an paleoecology of species we hope to improve the preservation and conservation of species in the future. We invite submissions that aim to understand evolutionary processes that shape biodiversity. For this session we especially encourage submissions that combine paleoenvironmental, paleontological, and time-calibrated phylogenetic studies. Session coordinators: Arthur Sands, Justine Vandendorpe, Lea Rausch, Sabrina van de Velde.

Keywords: Neogene, Quaternary, biodiversity loss, paleoecology, Paratethys, turnover, extinction, molecular clock analysis, connectivity.

III Neogene and Quaternary Terrestrial Ecosystems in the Southern Caucasus

                Along the Neogene and Quaternary, Southern Caucasus has played a key role as a refugium area both for vegetation and terrestrial vertebrates. The extraordinary continental record in this area, which covers the late Miocene, Pliocene and Pleistocene, offers a unique opportunity for analyzing Neogene faunal dispersals and turnovers, associated with paleogeographic changes and global climatic evolution. 

Moreover, the Southern Caucasus is the area of earliest human occupation in Eurasia, proven by findings of Homo fossils in Georgia with an age of ca. 1.8 Ma. Since then, humans were present in this region and inhabited different environments. To better understand the relationships between environment and mammal as well as early human dispersals, the symposium intends to encompass all kinds of environmental proxies that can shed light on the complex geological, paleontological and paleoanthropological history of the region. We invite contributions on paleontology, geology, vegetation and climate reconstructions, which add to the understanding of Neogene and Quaternary terrestrial environmental dynamics of this special part of the world. Session coordinators: Jordi Agusti & Angela A. Bruch (RCMNS)

Keywords: dating and correlation, biostratigraphy, dispersal events, paleobiogeography, endemic evolution, refugium areas, paleoclimate change, vegetational successions, paleoecological modeling and reconstruction

IV The role of invasive species in the current Pontocaspian biodiversity crisis

                 The Pontocaspian region functions as a source and sink for invasive species. We know that invasive species that accessed the region are currently a dominant factor in affecting native species assemblages, while native Pontocaspian species caused serious damages when introduced into new ecosystems. To address this problem international collaboration and the planning and implementation of effective management strategies are very important. Scientific information sharing and building of new professional links between different actors can be an essential step for creating a “Pontocaspian Network” for joint decision making and action towards the management of invasive species and to conserve the native biota.

In this conference, we aim to further collaboration to address to this problem. Therefore, our idea is to gather expert knowledge about the biology and ecology of invasive species and facilitate international information sharing. Session coordinators: Alberto Martinez Gandara, Anouk D’Hont, Aleksandre Gogaladze, Manuel Sala Perez, Matteo Lattuada.

Keywords: invasive species, Pontocaspian biodiversity, anthropogenic impact/drivers, outreach, taxonomy crisis, Black Sea, Caspian Sea.

Participation - Submissions

The participants can send in abstracts for presentations and for posters using the abstract template that will be published on January 29, 2018 on the website. We have a limited number of slots and the organizing committees will make a selection based on the number of submissions. In some cases we may ask you to give a poster presentation instead. Talks will in general be 15 minutes (including short Q&A) and keynote papers will be 30 minutes. Posters will have to be printed on portrait A0 format. 

The abstract submission deadline for talks and poster presentations is 1 May 2018. Please upload your abstract via the Google form on the website. The abstraction submission will be open on 29 January 2018. 


Organizing committee

  • Dr Frank Wesselingh (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands) (general chair)
  • Prof David Lordkipanidze (Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi, Georgia) (local chair)
  • Dr Angela Bruch (Senckenberg Museum Forschungsinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
  • Caroline van Impelen (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands)
  • Prof David Tarkhnishvili (Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia)
  • Dr Giorgi Bezarashvili (Georgian Natational Museum, Tbilisi, Georgia)
  • Prof Jordi Agusti (Univ. Rovira Virgili, Barcelona, Spain/ RCMNS)
  • Dr Levan Mumladze (Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia)
  • Mariam Inaniashvili (Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi, Georgia)
  • Nino Kokolia (Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi, Georgia)
  • Prof Rachel Flecker (Bristol University, UK/ RCMNS)
  • Prof Thomas Wilke (Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany)
  • Prof Wout Krijgsman (Utrecht University/ RCMNS)

Program committee

  • Alberto Martinez Gandara (Grigore Antipa Museum, Bucharest, Romania)
  • Anouk D’Hont (GiMaRIS, Leiden, The Netherlands)
  • Arthur Sands (Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany)
  • Aleksandre Gogaladze (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands)
  • Diksha Bista (Bristol University, United Kingdom)
  • Justine Vandendorpe (Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany)
  • Lea Rausch (University of Bucharest, Romania)
  • Liesbeth Jorissen (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
  • Manuel Sala Perez (Bristol University, United Kingdom)
  • Matteo Lattuada (Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany)
  • Sabrina van de Velde (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands)
  • Sergei Lazarev (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
  • Sifan Koriche (University of Reading, United Kingdom)
  • Sri Nandini (Bremen University, Germany)
  • Tom Hoyle (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)

Together with: Dr Frank Wesselingh (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands), Prof Wout Krijgsman (Utrecht University/ RCMNS), Prof Thomas Wilke (Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany), Prof Jordi Agusti (Univ. Rovira Virgili, Barcelona, Spain/ RCMNS), Dr Angela Bruch (Senckenberg Museum Forschungsinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, Germany) and Maia Bukshianidze (Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi, Georgia).

Do you have any questions or comments? Please send them to: