The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Ecology and Conservation Biology category goes, in this fourteenth edition, to Lenore Fahrig, Simon Asher Levin and Steward T. A. Pickett for their outstanding efforts to bring theory and order to the complexity of studying and managing coupled human-natural systems.
In his landmark 1992 paper, Simon Levin wrote: “The problem of pattern and scale is the central problem in ecology, unifying population biology and ecosystems science, and marrying basic and applied ecology.” Each of this year’s award winners has devoted their life to the study of this central problem.
Professor Levin developed the theoretical underpinnings of spatial ecology. He deftly uses mathematical modeling to link local dynamics with landscape patterns, effectively uniting the reductionist and holistic perspectives on ecological systems.
Professor Fahrig has developed theory-driven and data-proven ways for effectively reducing the effects of habitat loss through connectivity conservation. Her work has extended spatial theory into the complex dimensions of real-world landscapes, most notably by recognizing the critical role that road networks and small conservation areas play in altering the distribution and abundance of species.
Dr. Pickett has applied spatial ecology theory to coupled human-natural systems and developed the field of urban ecology. He has been a pioneer of the important work of integrating humans as components of ecosystems into ecological theory, and has been particularly effective in linking ecology and urban design, and bringing ethical and philosophical perspectives into the study of human-dominated ecosystems.