The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present seven societal awards to distinguished ecologists at its 95th Annual Meeting from August 1-6, 2010 in Pittsburgh. The meeting, which has the theme “Global Warming: The legacy of our past, the challenge for our future,” draws a critical combination of more than 3,000 scientists, policymakers and concerned citizens to explore the causes and consequences of global warming and to discuss the ways in which climate change permeates many areas of environmental concern, such as endangered species, food security and freshwater resources.
Eminent Ecologist Award:Simon A. Levin
Simon A. Levin of Princeton University 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. Levin has made numerous contributions to theoretical ecology, especially regarding his multifaceted development of the spatial dimension of ecology. He has also been a force in the application of theory to critical societal problems, with influential publications on ecotoxicology, infectious disease ecology, resource harvesting management, environmental impact assessment, genetically engineered organisms and the sustainability of coupled ecological-economic systems. Beyond his more than 400 published papers and books, Levin is also a tremendous mentor.
Distinguished Service Citation: Rosina Bierbaum
The Distinguished Service Citation is given to an ecologist for a long and distinguished service to ESA, to the larger scientific community or to the larger purpose of application of ecology in the public welfare; Rosina Bierbaum, Professor and Dean of the University of Michigan School for Natural Resources and the Environment, exemplifies the latter. Bierbaum has served in numerous roles, including as a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and co-director of the World Bank’s formal report on the intersection of climate change and economic development. She has been an effective advocate for the application of sound ecological science to a wide range of environmental problems and, as dean, she has developed a new kind of cross-cutting education focused on today’s environmental challenges.
Mercer Award: Meghan Duffy and Spencer Hall
This year’s George Mercer Award is given to Meghan Duffy and Spencer Hall for their paper “Selective predation and rapid evolution can jointly dampen effects of parasites on Daphnia populations,” published in American Naturalist in 2008. The Mercer Award is given for an outstanding recently-published ecological research paper by a young scientist. The researchers’ work defines the processes by which two species of parasites affect their host, Daphnia, in different ways. They showed that only outbreaks of the bacterium, and not the fungal parasite, influenced Daphnia population dynamics in natural lakes. The study communicated two fundamental messages for ecology: Evolution within an ecological framework can alter species interactions and examining parasites within a food web is essential to understanding the full extent of their dynamics.
Cooper Award: Jacquelyn Gill, Stephen T. Jackson, Katherine Lininger and Guy Robinson
Jacquelyn Gill, Stephen T. Jackson, Katherine Lininger and Guy Robinson will receive this year’s William Skinner Cooper Award, given to honor an outstanding contribution to the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. The paper, “Pleistocene megafaunal collapse preceded novel plant communities and enhanced fire regimes,” was published in Science in 2009 and contributes to the fundamental understanding of ecological history in eastern North America. The researchers used the fungus Sporormiella found in animal dung to determine that a rare collection of plant communities arose after the sharp decline of now-extinct megafauna, such as mastodons and mammoths. They proposed that these megaherbivores helped to suppress vegetation that eventually led to forest fires and cleared the way for human arrival.
Odum Education Award: Kenneth Klemow
Through teaching, outreach and mentoring activities, recipients of the Eugene P. Odum Award have demonstrated their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs. This year’s award is presented to Kenneth Klemow, Professor of Biology and GeoEnvironmental Science at Wilkes University, for his outstanding work in ecology education. Klemow has directed more than sixty students in a variety of topics pertaining to wetland ecology and mapping, revegetation of mined sites, assessment and remediation of areas impacted by abandoned mine drainage, plant community ecology, biology education and medicinal attributes of plants. He also served in a leadership role in developing a new Institute of Energy and Environment for the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania region.
Sustainability Science Award: Martin Lindegren, Christian Möllmann, Anders Nielsen and Nils Christian Stenseth
Martin Lindegren, Christian Möllmann, Anders Nielsen and Nils Christian Stenseth will receive this year’s Sustainability Science Award for their paper “Preventing the collapse of the Baltic cod stock through an ecosystem-based management approach” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesin 2009. The study—which develops a model for managing Baltic cod stocks based on fishing pressure, salinity and other environmental conditions—focuses on a science-based approach for the sustainable management of fisheries. The results illustrate that ecosystem-based fisheries management can prevent future catastrophic events, such as another collapse of the stock.
MacArthur Award: Stephen W. Pacala
This year’s Robert H. MacArthur Award is given to Stephen W. Pacala of Princeton University for his contributions to evolutionary biology, plant and animal ecology, parasite-host interactions and biogeochemical cycles. The MacArthur Award is presented to an established ecologist in mid-career for meritorious contributions to ecology in the expectation of continued outstanding ecological research. Pacala has been a leader in relating ecological studies to global climate models and has demonstrated the importance of biodiversity to predicting ecosystem responses and increased carbon. He also has led three centers at Princeton University, including the Princeton Environmental Institute.