Public Release:  Ecological Society of America announces 2012 award recipients

Ecological Society of America


IMAGE: This is the logo for the 97th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America. view more

Credit: ESA

The Ecological Society of America (ESA) will present eight societal awards recognizing outstanding contributions to ecology during ESA's 97th annual meeting in Portland, Oregon. The meeting, which will be held from August 5 - 10, is expected to draw over 4,500 scientists from around the globe to share their research and ideas.

Eminent Ecologist Award: Robert Naiman, University of Washington, Seattle

This award is given to a senior ecologist in recognition of an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit.

Among his many contributions, Robert Naiman played a key role in establishing a national ecological research program in freshwater science at the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation through his leadership of a project that resulted in publication of The Freshwater Imperative in 1995. In addition to Naiman's influential work on freshwater ecology, he has also made fundamental contributions to the study of riparian systems and the concept of ecotones. Naiman has also served as an important mentor to many graduate students, postdocs and colleagues.

Distinguished Service Citation: Janet Lanza, University of Arkansas, Little Rock

The Distinguished Service Citation recognizes long and distinguished service to ESA, to the larger scientific community or to the larger purpose of ecology in the public welfare.

ESA recognizes Janet Lanza for her two decades of distinguished service to ESA as its Book Review Editor. Through a good eye for books worth reviewing, a familiarity with the discipline and a keen and discriminating awareness of the pool of book reviewers, Lanza has produced a regular stream of high-quality reviews that span and transcend ecology.

MacArthur Award: Anthony Ives, University of Wisconsin, Madison

The Robert H. MacArthur Award is presented to an established ecologist in mid-career for meritorious contributions to ecology in the expectation of continued outstanding ecological research.

Anthony Ives remarkable body of work has advanced our understanding of complex, noisy natural systems. Ives is the rare scientist who can both formulate original theories and conduct experiments in the field and lab, whose research contributes to basic ecology and to contemporary public policy issues and who has mastered the art of synthesis and review as well as sophisticated statistical approaches. Ives contributions extend to his mentoring of graduate students and postdocs, many of whom have gone on to achieve significant successes of their own.

Mercer Award: Carla Staver, Princeton University, and Sally Archibald, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

This award recognizes an outstanding and recently-published ecological research paper by a young scientist.

Carla Staver and Sally Archibald are being honored for the paper they published with Simon Levin (Princeton) in Ecology in 2011: "Tree cover in sub-Saharan Africa: Rainfall and fire constrain forest and savanna as alternative stable states." Staver et al. used mathematical theory to show that the dynamics of fire and tree establishment can generate alternative stable states between forest and savanna.

Cooper Award: Kevin Boyce, University of Chicago, and Jung-Eun Lee, Taylor Feild, Tim Brodribb, and Maciej Zwieniecki

This award honors an outstanding contribution to the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients.

Boyce and his colleagues combined climate model sensitivity experiments with the evolutionary history of leaf vein densities from the fossil plant record to develop an exciting hypothesis they presented in their paper: "Angiosperms helped put the rain in the rainforests: The impact of plant physiological evolution on tropical biodiversity," published in 2010 in Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Boyce et al. argue that the rise of angiosperms roughly 100 million years ago, fundamentally transformed the global hydrological cycle, leading to the formation of tropical rainforests.

Odum Education Award: Charlene D'Avanzo, Hampshire College

Through teaching, outreach and mentoring activities, recipients of the Eugene P. Odum Award have demonstrated their ability to relate basic ecological principles to human affairs.

Charlene D'Avanzo's work has focused on developing the field of ecology education. Among her achievements was starting the Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology journal and helping to develop the education plan for the National Ecological Observatory Network. D'Avanzo incorporates inquiry-based learning into her courses and has mentored faculty members on new techniques to enhance student learning of ecological concepts.

Honorary Member Award: Rick Shine, University of Sydney, Australia

Recipients of this award are distinguished ecologists who have made exceptional contributions to ecology and whose principal residence and site of ecological research are outside of North America.

Rick Shine is internationally recognized as a leading authority on the ecology and evolutionary biology of reptiles and amphibians. His over 700 research publications include landmark studies that provide new insights into how Australian ecosystems function.

Sustainability Award: Robin Reid, Colorado State University, and D. Nkedianye, M. Said, D. Kaelo, M. Neselle, O. Makui, L. Onetu, S. Kiruswa, N. Ole Kamuaro, P. Kristjanson, J. Ogutu, S. BurnSilver, M. Goldman, R. Boone, K. Galvin, N. Dickson, and W. Clark.

This award is given to the authors of a scholarly work that makes the greatest contribution to the emerging science of ecosystem and regional sustainability through the integration of ecological and social sciences.

Robin Reid (Colorado State University) and her colleagues' paper is unique because of its focus on how the process of ecological research can better align itself with goals such as conservation and poverty alleviation. In addition, the paper was the result of collaboration among a broad range of international partners and integrates insights from fields that include rural sociology, veterinary science and economics. "Evolution of models to support community and policy action with science: Balancing pastoral livelihoods and wildlife conservation in savannas of East Africa," was published in PNAS in 2009.


The ESA awards ceremony will take place on Monday, August 6 at 8 AM in the Oregon Convention Center, Ballroom 201-203. More information about ESA awards is at:

To learn more about the 2012 ESA annual meeting see:

The Ecological Society of America is the world's largest community of professional ecologists and the trusted source of ecological knowledge. ESA is committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals, convenes an annual scientific conference, and broadly shares ecological information through policy and media outreach and education initiatives. Visit the ESA website at or find experts in ecological science at

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