The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Ecology and Conservation Biology goes, in this twelfth edition, to Carlos M. Duarte, Terence P. Hughes and Daniel Pauly for their seminal contributions to our understanding of the world’s oceans and their efforts to protect and conserve marine biodiversity and oceanic ecosystem services in a rapidly changing world. All three scientists are at the forefront in developing our fundamental understanding of marine ecology and in applying that knowledge to guide effective conservation and management of critical marine habitats and fisheries.
Carlos Duarte’s research has established the critical importance of seagrass meadows and mangroves in coastal carbon sequestration. His work catalyzed the Blue Carbon Initiative, a global program focused on mitigating climate change through the conservation and restoration of these habitats.
Terence Hughes is recognized for his efforts to describe and draw attention to the global loss of fragile coral ecosystems as a result of widespread warming, ocean acidification, pollution and disease. He has been an international leader in the application of cross-disciplinary approaches to the conservation and restoration of coral reefs. His recent work on the situation of coral reefs in the Anthropocene is a sound synthesis of ecology, climate projections, social science and social-ecological modeling.
Daniel Pauly has documented the decline in global fisheries. Among his contributions are an equation predicting natural mortality in fishes, a widely-used computer-based method estimating the population dynamics of fishes, and a demonstration of climate-change induced fish migrations. His research evidences the inter-dependencies between fisheries science, marine ecology and conservation around the world.