Carlo Heip Award winners

2019

Prof. Graham Edgar

Prof. Graham Edgar is a globally pre-eminent marine field ecologist. He has lived and worked on five continents, and described ecological patterns ranging from the microscopic to the global scale. Although perhaps best known for his world-leading research on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Graham has an exceptional publication history spanning pioneering work on small invertebrates and secondary production in shallow marine systems, threatened species, human impacts, and macroecology – all based on field studies he has personally led. Permanently waterlogged, Graham possesses an unrivalled general knowledge of fishes and macrobenthic fauna. At local scales, he has described 20 new species of crustacean, fishes, cnidarians and macroalgae, while at the global scale, he has contributed to our understanding of the causes of latitudinal gradients in richness and abundance in 10 animal classes. It would be difficult to imagine another scientist with the combined academic accomplishments, extraordinary field experience, and intimate knowledge of marine life that Graham possesses.

Graham has investigated impacts on marine life from fisheries, introduced species, climate change, pollutants, infrastructure, and catchment outflows. His research on MPAs is particularly highly cited and globally influential. Graham was invited to discuss his research with Environment Ministers from OECD countries at their four-yearly meeting in Paris, 2016; his work was raised in the US Congress, and has been extensively applied by Australian national and state governments and international environmental organisations.

Greatly contributing to Graham’s capacity to tackle the most important questions for MPA managers has been his instigation and co-leadership of the Reef Life Survey program (RLS), seen by many as the citizen science gold standard. In contrast to other global citizen science programs, RLS divers collect quantitative abundance records for a range of phyla using standardised scientific methods, providing the richest ecological dataset of its kind available (also publicly accessible). Graham’s vision has not only facilitated the success of RLS, but he has also been the most prolific contributor of RLS data, undertaking over 2000 reef surveys in 27 countries and 6 continents.

The international policy relevance of Graham’s research can also be seen through his citation metrics. In 2019, Graham ranked as the world’s top author for citations per paper relating to UN Sustainability Goal 15 (“Life below water”), and 4th for total publications on this topic. As was also the case with Profs Carlo Heip and Carlos Duarte (the inaugural winner of this award), Graham is recognised in the top 0.1% of the world’s researchers, as a Web of Science ‘Highly Cited Researcher’.

Graham has a close association with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, including as assessor for over 150 species on the Red List, and leadership of marine input into criteria that identify globally-significant sites for biodiversity conservation (‘Key Biodiversity Areas’).  The list of awards and experience in other aspects of marine biodiversity conservation is huge. There is no doubt that Graham’s contributions to science and management are unique, academically and on the ground. These achievements have been accomplished through a uniquely broad vision, and a deep passion for safeguarding marine life.

 

2020

Prof Steve Hawkins

Steve Hawkins started researching the ecology of rocky shores in the mid 1970s at the Port Erin laboratory on the Isle of Man. Since then his work as a field experimental ecologist, with numerous students and an extensive network of collaborators has transformed the way we understand both small and large-scale processes shaping pattern on North-East Atlantic shores. It has also informed monitoring rocky shores and in particular their recovery from pollution events and long-term change in response to climate fluctuations plus habitat restoration on urbanised coastlines.

Before stepping down in late 2015, Steve held several senior posts including Director Centre for Environmental Sciences and Head of Biodiversity and Ecology Research Division at the University of Southampton, Director of Marine Biological Association of UK Laboratory Plymouth, Head of College Natural Sciences and then Pro-Vice Chancellor Research at Bangor University and finally Dean of Natural and Environmental Sciences at Southampton.

One of Steve’s proudest achievements was leading a rescue project to salvage the MBA’s long–term data that were at risk after the compulsory early-retirement of his own mentor Alan Southward. This was partly prompted by Steve’s observations that warm water limpets were less common in the cooler early 1980s than they had been in the warmer 1950s. In the late 1980s /early 1990s it became apparent that warm water barnacles and limpets were becoming more common than they were even in the warm 1950s.  This led to one of the first papers suggesting that global warming might be influencing marine biodiversity and ecosystems.  The work on long-term observations in relation to climate change gained momentum when he became Director of the MBA in Plymouth in 1999, with the explicitly stated aim of re-starting the various time-series stopped in 1987. The UK Marine Environmental Change Network, led by Steve from the MBA, was created with UK government funding in the early 2000s. The MBA’s offshore time series were re-started, with focus on nearshore fish in relation to climate and interactions with fishing pressure. Funding was obtained for the MarClim project using rocky shore indicators of wider changes in marine ecosystems, with Steve doing a large share of the fieldwork. This he continued on leaving the MBA - even after he went down the dark-side of senior University management - swopping suits for boots most spring-tide weekends and public holidays from March to October every year. He has resumed these activities more fully since retirement and putting the suit away.

In addition to being a leading marine biologist and avid natural historian (with > 300 publications and large research impact), Steve’s contribution to his discipline has been vast, including serving on many grant panels and advisory and editorial boards (e.g. Biological Conservation, Aquatic Conservation, Peer J, Marine and Freshwater Research). He is currently Editor in Chief of Oceanography and Marine Biology Annual Review plus the Excellence in Ecology Series (founded by Otto Kinne). Moreover, Steve has always been an active educator having produced two text-books that are well known to marine biology students of the NE Atlantic. Steve’s greatest contribution has probably been in supervising over 80 research students and mentoring many post-docs and early career researchers. Many of his students and post-docs have gone onto full Professorships. His enduring legacy includes a new generation of researchers doing experimental studies of coastal marine biodiversity, responses to climate change and more applied subjects such as fisheries, conservation and pollution.