• Global Threats to Biodiversity

    Extinction rates are higher than ever before.  Such loss of species diversity destabilizes ecological processes, resulting in cascading effects through ecosystems.

    The five major global threats to ecosystem health are: habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, disease and climate change. Although there is considerable research on each of these individual global threats, much less is known regarding how these factors interact.


    Global Threats to Biodiversity
  • Invasive Species

    Human activities depend on healthy native ecosystems, and invasive species are one of the leading threats to environmental integrity.

    Invasive species are estimated to impact the global economy by $1.4 trillion per annum, and present an imminent threat to native species by creating monocultures, changing ecosystem function, altering nutrient cycles, and threatening human health.

    Invasive Species
  • Disease

    Ecosystem intergrity is also threatened by emerging diseases.  Particularly threatening are diseases carried by invasive species, since native organisms may lack immunity to them. Ecosystems are most vulnerable to emerging diseases when they are subjected to multiple stressors, such as those brought about by global change.

    The Interfaces of Global Change PhD Program will develop a community of scholars seeking to resolve these pressing issues.

  • Pollution

    Pollution is now a leading cause of premature death worldwide.  As the population continues to grow, pollution from sewage, exhaust, agriculture, and industry continuously threatens our air and water.

    Ecosystems are no longer able to absorb the byproducts of our daily lives without changing in response. The interaction of pollution with climate change, invasive species, habitat loss, and disease create significant challenges for science and policy.


  • Habitat Loss

    When an ecosystem has been dramatically changed by human activities—such as agriculture, oil and gas exploration, commercial development or water diversion—it may no longer be able to provide the food, water, cover, and places to raise young. Every day there are fewer places left that wildlife can call home.

    Habitat loss is the primary threat to the survival of wildlife around the world.

    Habitat Loss
  • Climate Change

    Climate change is already beginning to transform life on Earth. Around the globe, seasons are shifting, temperatures are climbing and sea levels are rising. Climate change is altering the lands and waters we all depend upon for survival.

    The interaction of climate change with the other major global threats represents a new frontier for scientific research and environmental policy.

    Climate Change

The Interfaces of Global Change (IGC) program at Virginia Tech is an exciting new interdisciplinary graduate education program designed to address the multidimensional aspects of global change.

Human domination of the Earth has created a myriad of problems that interact to threaten biodiversity and essential ecological processes, and in doing so jeopardize the long-term welfare of society. The Interfaces of Global Change PhD program provides a much-needed research and training niche to address these threats.

PhD students will complete their primary coursework during the first two years of study, and then continue to enroll in a Global Change Seminar course to stay up on the literature, maintain their connection to the IGC community, and develop relationships with new cohorts of students.

We welcome broad participation from across the Virginia Tech campus and encourage interested students to contact any core faculty member with questions about the program before submitting an application. A complete set of instructions is located here.

The theme is highly topical, addressing the most pressing issues of our times and aligning strongly with an area of strategic emphasis at Virginia Tech....It is clear that students will emerge from this program well-qualified to play leading roles in questions relating to global change...  The Interfaces of Global Change IGEP boasts highly qualified and well-funded faculty with a demonstrated record of collaboration...–VT Faculty Comments about the IGC IGEP