The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Ecology and Conservation Biology goes, in this tenth edition, to Rosemary and Peter Grant, for their profound contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms and processes by which evolution occurs in the wild.
Over many decades, the Grants have continued to gain novel insights from the finches that first inspired Charles Darwin to develop his theory of evolution. Darwin’s brief visit to the Galapagos Islands in 1835 led him to describe evolution as a gradual process of descent with modification through many generations. Because of the Grants, we now know that evolution is a far more dynamic process than Darwin initially imagined, with new genotypes, phenotypes and hybrids constantly emerging and disappearing.
Over the years, Rosemary and Peter Grant have incorporated state-of-the-art advances in genetics into their research program, resulting in the most complete account of how evolution works in nature. Their work elucidates the mechanisms by which genetic diversity is maintained within populations and through which new species originate. Their results from long-term field research on the diversification of island organisms add an evolutionary perspective to conservation biology, by recognizing that rapid evolutionary changes can occur after the arrival of invasive species (including humans) or in response to catastrophic events.
Rosemary and Peter Grant are also distinguished science communicators. Their books have introduced generations of students and interested lay people to their fascinating work, and their research is a fundamental part of every textbook and introductory course in ecology and evolution.
Rosemary and Peter Grant are receiving this award together, just as they have always conducted their research, communicated their science, and mentored generations of ecologists and conservation biologists as a team. We applaud the synergistic result of the extended collaboration of these two brilliant scientists.