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Per Brinck Award
2013 Per Brinck Oikos Award
The Per Brinck Foundation at the editorial office of the journal Oikos and Wiley/Blackwell Publishing annually awards the Per Brinck Oikos Award in honor of the Swedish ecologist Professor Per Brinck, who has played an instrumental role for the development and recognition of the science of ecology in the Nordic countries, especially as serving as the Editor-in-Chief for Oikos for many years. The Per Brinck Oikos Award recognizes extraordinary and important contributions to the science of ecology. Particular emphasis is given to scientific work aimed at synthesis that has led to novel and original research in unexplored or neglected fields or to bridging gaps between ecological disciplines. Such achievements typically require theoretical innovation and development as well as imaginative observational or experimental work, all of which will be valid grounds for recognition.
The 2013 laureate was Professor Sharon Strauss, University oif California, Davis, who here describes her research interest:
My research focuses on how organisms are influenced both ecologically and evolutionarily by the complex communities in which they are embedded, and by the inextricable interrelationship between ecology and evolution. The ecology of organisms reflects their long-term evolutionary history, with all its contingencies. The extent to which related species share and diverge in ecologically important traits, and how this shared ancestry affects community assembly is a growing area within ecology. In addition, ecological dynamics and community assembly are influenced by microevolutionary change. Ecological communities and abiotic environments exert selection on organisms; evolution in response to such selection, under the constraints of long-term evolutionary history, often results in populations that differ in traits from the parental generation. These different trait values, in turn, can feed back to affect the ecology of a system.
We can often predict how systems will respond under simplified conditions or when one ecological force is clearly dominant. For example, application of pesticides has consistently resulted in the evolution of resistance in insect pests (more than 300 spp.). When interactions are variable in space or time, interactive in their effects on fitness, and when the selective effects of different agents are somewhat comparable in strength-- as they are in complex communities-- then our ability to predict how or whether traits will evolve, and how populations and communities respond through time, becomes much more of a challenge. As counterexamples, the ecology of introduced species, and the selective effects of human actions that overwhelm other agents of selection on natural populations both represent useful, more simplified, contexts in which to explore the implications for natural community complexity.