Ecological Society of America Announces 2009 Award Recipients

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present societal awards to five distinguished ecologists at its 94rd Annual Meeting on Monday, August 3, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. More than 3,500 attendees are expected at this year’s meeting.

Eminent Ecologist Award: Steven Hubbell

Steven Hubbell of the University of California, Los Angeles and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute will receive this year’s Eminent Ecologist Award, given to a senior ecologist in recognition of an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit. Most widely known for his neutral theory of biodiversity and biogeography, Hubbell’s wide-ranging research career has investigated tropical biodiversity, sexual selection and resource competition through the lens of theoretical ecology. He has written three books and more than 160 scientific papers, and his work has received more than 60 National Science Foundation grants. In 1990 he founded the National Council for Science and the Environment, a nonprofit organization to improve scientific rigor of environmental decision-making that now has 10,000 members.

Cooper Award: Jerry Jenkins, Glenn Motzkin and Kirsten Ward

Jerry Jenkins of the Wildlife Conservation Society and his coauthors Glenn Motzkin and Kirsten Ward  will receive this year’s William Skinner Cooper Award for their paper, “Harvard Forest Flora: An Inventory, Analysis and Ecological History,” published in 2008 in the Harvard Forest paper series. The Cooper Award is given to honor an outstanding contribution to the fields of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. In the paper, the authors survey the plants of a central New England woodland, describing biological variation within species and the diversity among them. The contribution illustrates the many ecological changes that occurred in this typical woodland throughout the 20th century.

Mercer Award: Richard Lankau and Sharon Strauss

This year’s George Mercer Award is given to Richard Lankau of the University of Illinois and coauthor Sharon Strauss for their paper, “Mutual feedbacks maintain both genetic and species diversity in a plant community,” published in Science in 2007. The Mercer Award is given for an outstanding recently-published ecological research paper by a young scientist. The authors show that changes in a physical trait of a plant can affect overall plant community structure, which in turn drives the evolution of the trait. The paper uses a combination of theory, experiment and observation to bridge the fields of community ecology and quantitative genetics.

Odum Education Award: Christine Flanagan

Christine Flanagan of the U.S. Botanic Garden will receive this year’s Eugene P. Odum award, which recognizes an ecologist for outstanding work in ecology education. Through teaching, outreach, and mentoring activities, recipients of this award have demonstrated their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs.  As public programs manager at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Flanagan develops programs that are viewed by nearly a million visitors each year, including many U.S. legislators. Her interdisciplinary NSF-funded traveling exhibit, titled “sLowlife,” draws from science, art and literature to explain plant movements. Flanagan’s other activities involve educating the public about genetically engineered plants and the importance of pollinator conservation.

Sustainability Science Award: B.L. Turner and coauthors

The recipients of the Sustainability Science Award are B.L. Turner of Arizona State University and his 25 coauthors on the Special Feature on Land Change Science, published in 2007 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The award recognizes research results that provide scientific foundations for sustainable management, link human and ecological systems and advance sustainability science. In a synthesis paper and five original research papers, the special feature explores central factors that contribute to global change, including deforestation, land fragmentation, ecological regime shifts and the loss of ecosystem services. Turner’s synthesis lays out the advances and challenges in the field of land change science.

For more information about the awards session and the 2009 ESA Annual Meeting, visitwww.esa.org/albuquerque

Comments are closed.