Jane Lubchenco is a global leader in marine ecology and conservation whose ground-breaking experimental work in coastal environments has been highly influential in defining the role of bottom-up control in marine ecosystems, mainly through the simultaneous action of resources and physical factors.
In contrast to the then-dominant perspective that the dynamics of coastal communities are mainly driven by predation, Prof. Lubchenco showed experimentally that the structure and function of coastal ecosystems are controlled by the joint effects of nutrients, light, temperature, and herbivores. Her work demonstrated that coastal upwelling affects both top-down and bottom-up processes. Many of the world’s fisheries are supported by upwelling systems. Therefore, her insights on those ecological processes have been fundamental to understanding that the links between those systems, ocean climate, and ecological perturbation are critical for the long-term sustainability of fisheries.
In addition, Prof. Lubchenco conceptually expanded these basic ecological insights to marine conservation at a global scale. She has been a leader in establishing marine reserves based on solid principles of ecological science. Her work established a scientific framework for defining the optimal locations, size, and connectivity of marine reserve networks, effectively integrating her scientific expertise into science-based principles for public policy.