The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology category goes, in this eighth edition, to Ilkka Hanski for his outstanding contributions to the science of species persistence in fragmented landscapes.
Professor Hanski has established the field of metapopulation biology, where a metapopulation is described as a set of spatially separated populations of the same species linked by dispersal. His unique contributions allow understanding population dynamics as a balance between local extinction and colonization among habitat patches. Drawing on his exquisite long-term field studies, particularly with Finnish populations of the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia), and his groundbreaking theory on metapopulation dynamics, he has established a firm basis to predict the point at which habitat loss leads to metapopulation extinction.
The metapopulation concept has been generalized to predict population viability across a wide range of species and habitats. It quickly became fundamental to modern ecology and conservation biology. The impact of Professor Hanski’s work is increasing as habitats become more fragmented due to anthropogenic influences.