The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Ecology and Conservation Biology goes to Peter B. Reich.
“Dr. Reich established global metabolic plant ecology as a field, notably by discovering universal rules of leaf design and related scaling of plant physiology from seedling to tree, from cell to ecosystem, and from the stand to the globe. This contribution radically improves our understanding of and ability to predict terrestrial ecosystem compositional and functional responses to global environmental change, including climate change. It increased our understanding of terrestrial ecosystem response to global environmental changes, including biodiversity loss, CO2, nitrogen deposition, ozone depletion, climate warming, land use and invasive species.
Dr. Reich has been a leader in exploring the consequences of plant trait design trade-offs for ecological success and community dynamics. He has also led experiments providing the first evidence that species diversity affects plant productivity and ecosystem stability, and addressed mechanisms resulting from plant functional diversity. Dr. Reich is the leader of a unique long-term field experiment that examines interactions of three well-documented global changes: plant species diversity, elevated atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen pollution.
Given that plant diversity is diminishing across the planet due to human activities, Dr. Reich’s work is important in alerting managers and policy-makers that biodiversity loss has adverse consequences for ecosystem function. Also, these findings collectively have important implications globally. For instance, because of nitrogen limitation and biodiversity losses, global estimates of potential carbon sequestration in the face of rising CO2 may be considerably overestimated. If this is true, atmospheric CO2concentrations may rise faster than anticipated, and global climate change may occur faster than predicted.”