Europe and Central Asia
23 May 2016

A Tribute to Professor Ilkka Hanski, one of the world’s top ecologists and evolutionary biologists

Melitaea cinxia was the basis of one of Professor Ilkka Hanski's seminal research projects
By Zeynep Karasin

Professor Ilkka Hanski born 1953 in Lempäälä, Finland, passed away on Tuesday morning, 10 May, after a long illness. BirdLife Europe offers our heartfelt condolences to Professor Ilkka Hanski’s family and colleagues. Professor Ilkka Hanski’s skills, inspiration and example were immeasurably important not only to science, but also to a generation of conservation professionals. 

The Metapopulation Research Center at the University Helsinki, which Professor Ilkka Hanski led until his death, was an Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence since 2000. Professor Ilkka Hanski, who also held the honorary title of Academician of Science, was one of the world’s top ecologists and evolutionary biologists, widely respected as an expert both in the academic community and among the general public.

Professor Ilkka Hanski, received several prizes and awards, during his carrer. In 2000, he was awarded the Balzan Prize for Ecological Sciences. In June 2005, he was the second Finnish scientist ever made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of London. In April 2006, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the Crafoord Prize in biosciences 2011 “for his pioneering studies on how spatial variation affects the dynamics of animal and plant populations”.

In 2015, Professor Ilkka Hanski was awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Ecology and Conservation Biology for opening up an area of ecology that explains how species survive in fragmented habitats and allows to quantify extinction thresholds. In September 2015, he received the honorary title of Academician of Science from the Academy of Finland.

His obituary can be found here.

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