Noted evolutionary biologist and author Jared Diamond will deliver the opening keynote talk during an international symposium on agricultural biodiversity at UC Davis, to be held Sept. 14-17, as part of the campus' yearlong centennial celebration.

Diamond, a professor of geography at UCLA and author of the books "Collapse" and "Guns, Germs and Steel," will discuss the role that chance or destiny play in the local origins of agriculture. His talk will be the opening address on Sept. 14 for Harlan II: An International Symposium on Biodiversity in Agriculture: Domestication, Evolution and Sustainability.

Also presenting a keynote speech to the international gathering of scientists will be Gary Nabhan, an ecologist and expert in how different cultures use plants, as well as a pioneer of the local food movement. Nabhan, a professor at the University of Arizona's Southwest Center, will speak about the origins of food diversity on Sept. 16, during the symposium gala.

The conference is expected to draw more than 200 researchers with an interest in agricultural biodiversity — the concept that it is critically important to make use of and conserve a variety of plant and animal species to maintain commercially viable agricultural operations.

The symposium will be held on campus, featuring international speakers who are at the forefront of their fields. Tours will follow to agricultural sites near Davis and in Northern California. The symposium is open to the public, but pre-registration is required.

More information and registration is available online at http://Harlanii.ucdavis.edu.

The symposium is named in honor of the late evolutionary biologist and plant explorer Jack R. Harlan. It is coordinated by UC Davis' departments of Animal Science, Anthropology, Human and Community Development, and Plant Sciences; as well as the UC Genetic Resources Conservation Program of the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, with guidance from an international advisory committee.