Marsh Ecology Award

The Marsh Ecology Award is run in association with the British Ecological Society to recognise outstanding achievements and contributions to the science of ecology. The Award has been awarded annually since 1996.

Entries for the Award are judged by a Nomination Committee who consider the following criteria:

  • An outstanding body of research which is making a significant  and demonstrable impact on the understanding of ecology or its application;
  • An excellent publications record;
  • Invitations to speak at international conferences;
  • Service on national and international committees/advisory boards.


Pictured above: Jane Memmott, winner of the 2015 Marsh Ecology Award.

Dr Sandra Lavorel 2017

Sandra has conducted outstanding research into plant functional ecology and the application of trait-based approaches to the assessment of management of ecosystem services. Her research has contributed to the emergence of trait-based approaches and their application to understanding biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning and services, especially in the context of climate change and land management. She has also completed interdisciplinary research, which involves close collaboration with a range of stakeholders and has contributed to both national and international assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to a greater understanding of land management for ecosystem services.

Sandra is research director at Laboratoire d’écologie alpine (LECA), Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Grenoble, France. She obtained her PhD in 1991 and has been a researcher at CNRS since 1994. Sandra has an outstanding track record of research and her 282 publications are distinguished for their deep conceptual basis and rigorous and imaginative experimental design.

In addition to her own research, Sandra has played a lead role in several international research networks, such as the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, DIVERSITAS, and TRY, the Global Communal Plant Trait Database, which she was a founder member of. She has also served on several major national and international assessments related to biodiversity and global environmental change, including the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and she is Chair of the scientific committee of the French National Ecosystem Assessment. She is a highly supportive mentor to her staff and students, and her rigorous and imaginative approach to her work, and appetite to challenge conventional disciplinary boundaries, is an inspiration to others working in her field.

Previous Winners

Professor Lynne Boddy

Lynne Boddy is Professor of Mycology at Cardiff University, where she lectures and researches on the topic of fungal ecology. Her real passion is the ecology of wood decay fungi and she has written prolifically on the subject. She has published 250 scientific papers, co-authored two books and edited 5 others. She is also the Chief Editor of the journal Fungal Ecology.

Lynne served as President of the British Mycological Society (BMS) from 2009-2010, and has been a member of the British Ecological Society for nearly 40 years. She takes every opportunity to spread the importance of the work of both societies to the general public, including taking part in 2016 Soap Box Science – a novel public outreach platform for promoting women scientists and the work they do. She produced a gold medal winning display on the role of fungi at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2009 along with her colleagues at the BMS and had a major role in formulating the ‘From Another Kingdom’ exhibition at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 2010, as well as co-editing the companion book for the exhibition, “From Another Kingdom: the Amazing World of Fungi”.


Professor Jane Memmott

Jane Memmott works in a variety of research fields, including the impact of farming on biodiversity, urban ecology and restoration ecology. Her field sites range from English meadows to Hawaiian swamps, and from Scottish islands to Cornish heaths.

Jane is Professor of Ecology at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol. She started her research career as a tropical entomologist commuting between the UK and the rainforests of Costa Rica before deciding to spend the winters working with the weed biological control team in New Zealand. She currently runs a research group at Bristol that uses ecological networks as a tool for asking about the impact of environmental change.

Jane works closely with practitioners as a part of her approach and recent projects have involved working with city councils and the Wildlife Trusts. Most recently she led a consortium of 28 people studying urban pollinators, leading to the team who constructing 36 plant-pollinator networks each 1km2 and planted 60 large urban meadows in four cities!

Professor Rosie Woodroffe

Rosie Woodroffe’s research falls at the interface of conservation biology, disease ecology, and animal behaviour. Her work is highly inter-disciplinary and she collaborates with a wide range of professionals, from pathologists to economists. Rosie’s current research is concerned primarily with conservation biology and wildlife management and she has a strong commitment to using science to influence both policy and conservation action.

Throughout her career, Rosie has been involved with a wide range of areas and topics including the conservation of wildlife that conflicts with people, how infectious diseases impact ecology and conservation and species conservation planning.

Rosie completed an undergraduate degree and D.Phil. at the University of Oxford. After a Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge she gained a Lectureship at the University of Warwick in Ecology and Epidemiology. She then moved to the University of California, as Professor of Conservation Biology before returning to the UK where she is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Zoology and a Visiting Professor at Imperial College, London.

Professor Kevin Gaston

Kevin Gaston is one of the most prolific and highly cited ecologists world-wide. He is particularly well-known for his pioneering work on macroecology, spatial patterns in abundance, the underlying causes of rarity, and more recently for his work on urban ecosystems and research into improving the relationships between people and their environment.

Kevin is Professor of Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of Exeter and has contributed to over 600 publications throughout his career. He is also the Director of a new multi-disciplinary centre at the University of Exeter, the Environment and Sustainability Institute.

Tim Coulson

Tim Coulson won this Award for his recent work linking environmental change to population dynamics of species. He has also carried out work in the field of conservation and management. Tim’s research in this area has focused on how a solid ecological understanding can be used to underpin the conservation and management decision-making process.

Tim’s research focuses on population ecology and population genetics and he has also developed a microsatellite-based measure to examine the effects of inbreeding on life history traits in wild populations. He has also worked on genetic by environment effects on demography. Tim also carries out research on evolutionary ecology, where he explores changes in the birth sex ratio in Soay sheep. His current focus is on linking individual-level demography to population level dynamics to estimate opportunities for selection.

Professor EJ Milner-Gulland

EJ is a population and conservation biologist who has been a pioneer in modern scientific conservation. She has worked at the Universities of Oxford and Warwick has led Imperial College’s Conservation Science group. Her work ranges from mathematical studies of the population dynamics of endangered species, through the management of natural resources, to social science research on local attitudes to different environmental protection strategies.

EJ’s research group is a shining example of interdisciplinary approached to applied ecology and the group has produced many important studies including: work on bushmeat which has stressed the significance of this source of protein in low-income countries and how issues of food security and conservation need to be addressed together, and also long-term work on the very rare Saiga Antelope in Kazakhstan. Her group has investigated the fascinating population dynamics of the species, and the social, economic and even political factors that influence hunting pressure.

Professor Jeremy Thomas

Jeremy Thomas’ work focuses on the conservation of British butterflies. He lead the reintroduction of the Large Blue and has made important advances in the study of mutualistic and parasitic interactions, including the dissection of the relationships between lycaenid butterflies and their ant mutualists and parasitic wasp enemies.

Professor Mike Begon

Mike Begon is Professor of Ecology and Deputy Head of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool. He has co-authored three ground breaking and fundamentally important text books, Ecology, Essentials of Ecology and Population Ecology. These books are written with authority and are a must, being found on all ecologist’s book shelves.

Mike has made a world leading contribution to ecology through advancing the knowledge of population dynamics, density dependence and host-pathogen dynamics.

Professor Dr Christian Korner

Christian Korner is one of Europe’s most eminent ecologists. He is the Head of Plant Ecology at the University of Basel in Switzerland, where he leads a large group studying the interactions between plants and their environment. His most influential work has addressed adaptations of plants to arctic/alpine environments, including factors that control the position of treelines, and the impacts of elevate carbon dioxide on both individuals and their interactions within communities. Christian’s research has resulted in the publication of more than 250 articles, 15 of which have been cited more than 100 times, earning him a place in the ISI Highly Cited Researchers list.

Professor Phil Ineson

Phil Ineson is a Chair in Global Change Ecology at the University of York. He is particularly noted for his work with stable isotopes, and was the first to grow C3 plants on C4 soil. Phil carries out research into the relationships between climate and soil carbon stores, the role of soils in producing ‘greenhouse gases’ and the potential impacts of future atmospheric CO2 levels on soil processes. He is widely acknowledged to be one of the most original scientists in the world working on the role of soil in the global carbon cycle.

Professor Ilkka Hanski

Ilkka Hanski is Research Professor at the University of Helsinki and is widely acknowledged as the leading proponent of metapopulation ecology and more broadly as a leading figure in population ecology and conservation biology.

Ilkka’s work on the Glanville Fritillary and associated competitors and natural enemies is an exemplary approach to interdisciplinary studies combining all aspects of the ecological sciences. He has integrated molecular, theoretical, genetical and population-level studies into his research to address a broad range of relevant ecological issues.

Professor Stephen Hubbell

Stephen Hubbell is a distinguished Research Professor of Plant Biology. He has created a mathematical theory to explain general patterns in the distribution of biological diversity on earth from local to global scales and unifying the previously unconnected theory in population biology and island biogeography with speciation theory.

Stephen is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is also a Pew Fellow in Conservation Biology.

Professor Andrew Watkinson

Andrew Watkinson has pioneered major developments in a range of fields especially population ecology and in understanding the ecology of weeds.

Andrew’s research of weeds arose from applying his PhD research to other plants. He took advantage of the concern over weeds and the enormous literature to develop a theoretical framework for examining a wide range of issues relating to weed population ecology.

Professor Jim Brown

Jim Brown is amongst the top three ecologists in the USA. Not only has he been fantastically productive and innovative as a researcher, he has also contributed enormously to the development and administration of ecology internationally. His work has bridged the gap across disciplines and across scales of space and time.

Jim Brown has pioneered the whole area of Macroecology as evidenced by his many papers in the best international journals and his seminal book Macroecology published in 1995. He has published some of the most cited papers in the field of biogeography and his textbooks on the subject from 1983 and 1998 with Lomolino are the most widely cited and used books on the subject available.

Professor Sam Berry

Sam Berry is the former President of the British Ecological Society and Linnean Societies. He is well known for his work in ecological genetics with special interests in island populations of small mammals.

Sam is a prolific writer of both technical and popular works and has, over the years, made highly significant contributions to the debates about the interfaces between science and politics and about the structure of the institutions of biological science in the UK. He has also been very active in forums such as the Field Studies Council and the Institute of Biology. He is an eminent and articulate spokesperson for the science of Ecology and is listened to by many groups outside the world of Ecology.

Professor William Sutherland

Bill Sutherland is the Miriam Rothschild Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Cambridge. Over a career spanning over 30 years, he has researched in several disciplines.His research interests largely involve predicting the consequences of environmental change and he is well known for his research on integrating science and policy, particularly in the field of evidence-based conservation.

Bill has made many key contributions to the sector, including the horizon scanning exercises to identify future priority issues and the 100 important questions in various disciplines (ecology, poverty prevention, global agriculture and food amongst others). He has also worked extensively on bird population ecology and the biodiversity impacts of agriculture.

Professor John Harper

John Harper has pioneered a whole new field of scientific endeavour, exploring the population biology of plants. Prior to his ground-breaking studies, plant ecologists had studied the physiology of plants growing under different ecological conditions, or had studied distribution and physiognomy of entire plant communities. The fate of individual plants was largely ignored. His distinctive approach to the analysis of plant behaviour and demography gave enormous stimulus to the development of comparative studies of life history traits, plant evolution and population dynamics. His presidential address to this Society in 1967 entitled “A Darwinian approach to plant ecology” was hugely influential, and inspired an entire generation of whole-organisms plant biologists.

Professor Tim Clutton-Brock

Tim Clutton-Brock is the Professor of Animal Ecology at the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge. His research group in the Department has run since 1980 and usually includes around 7 graduate students working on their doctoral projects, 3 or 4 graduate research assistants and 5 or 6 post-doctoral scientists.

In 1993, he was a founding member of the Tropical Biology Association which is a federation of European universities and NGO’s that runs 2-4 month long field courses in ecology and conservation biology in the paleo-tropics each year for a combination of students. In addition, Tim chairs the Royal Society’s South-East Asian Rainforest Programme, which focusses on the assessment of the impact of human exploitation on biodiversity, forest reconstruction following logging and on the minimisation of logging damage.

Professor Philip Grime

Philip Grime has made an immense contribution to the science of plant ecology for over four decades. In the 1960s, he was involved in important pioneering research, culminating in his “Atlas of Grassland Plants” which he produced in conjunction with Philip Lloyd. He has developed the science of comparative ecology into a powerful approach to understand ecological situations. In the 1970s he developed two major lines of research, “Plant Strategy Theory” and the “Humpbacked model” to explain the control of diversity in grasslands.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s Philip Grime became the leader of UCPE and led this group with great distinction to help it become one of the finest laboratories in plant ecology in the world. Philip has produced a large number of important publications covering the complete spectrum, from both theoretical approaches through to practical conservation and land management ones. He has recently been elected an honorary member of the Ecological Society of America, an honour reserved for very few British ecologists.

Professor John Lawton

John Lawton is Professor of Community Ecology and Director of the NERC Centre of Population Biology at Imperial College, Silwood Park campus. He has made significant contributions to a wide range of ecological problems, both theoretically and in the field. His interests embrace theoretical and experimental population dynamics and community ecology, primarily using insects as experimental subjects, in both terrestrial and freshwater systems. Insects feature prominently in John Lawton’s work, however he has also published on mammals and on birds.