Ilkka Hanski’s study of Glanville fritillaries on the island of Aland over more than 20 years has led to important insights in how fragmented populations can survive and has netted him this year’s European Science Foundation’s (ESF) Latsis Prize for science. The Prize is annually granted by the ESF to a researcher or a research group who have the most extensively promoted research in their field in Europe. Below is text from the University’s web announcement of the prize:
>>In its statement, the international expert panel emphasised Hanski’s groundbreaking theories, which have contributed to metapopulation biology becoming a significant field of study.
The Metapopulation Research Group led by Hanski at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences is one of the world’s leading research centres of population biology.
– We have a large research team with eight renowned senior researchers. The different research themes are connected with metapopulation biology’s way of thinking and its set of concepts. Already three members of our researcher team have been granted the intended funding from the European Research Council.
How do populations survive in fragmented habitats?
Hanski has obtained particular merit in research dealing with biodiversity and metapopulation biology. Metapopulation research gives answers to key questions concerning the management of habitats and nature conservation.
– For example, through metapopulation modelling, it is possible to find out the critical fragmentation degree of the habitat, after which a species will no more survive for a long time. We have obtained new information about how and why species become locally extinct. We also know what helps them survive in a fragmented environment.
Hanski is best known for his studies of almost 20 years concerning the Glanville fritillary butterfly in the Åland Islands. The Glanville fritillary butterfly continues to be his most important research subject.
– The research on the Glanville fritillary butterfly has answered many important research questions. We have used the Glanville fritillary butterfly as a model species for investigating the effects a fragmented habitat has on species’ population variation and microevolution.
Hanski is a member of the Royal Society of London, the US National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy, and six other science academies. He has received many significant science awards.
Text: Kirsikka Mattila
Photo: Linda Tammisto
Translation: AAC Global