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Marsh European Lepidoptera Award

This Award is run in partnership with Butterfly Conservation and recognises the efforts of those whose work has had a major and positive impact on butterfly and moth conservation within Europe.

Nominations are made via Butterfly Conservation’s European Butterflies Group and judged by a panel of experts from the field.

Pictured: 2014 Award winner Chris Van Swaay

Professor László Rákosy 2017

László is the pre-eminent Lepidopterist in Romania and is an expert on both macro and micro-moths. His knowledge has led to the publication of the Catalogue of Romanian Lepidoptera, documenting over 4,000 species from across the country. László has a prestigious publication record, but is probably best known among the public for his recent seminal book Butterflies of Romania: knowledge, protections, conservation which was published in 2013.

László’s wide ranging research has focused on the rare and endangered butterflies of Romania, including the Maculinea (Large Blues), where he and his team have made many pioneering breakthroughs to aid their conservation. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that Romania has developed butterflies and moths as environmental indicators and is actively involved in research examining the impact of climate change on Europe’s butterflies. László has also extensively researched the biodiversity, management and key role of agricultural systems in the Eastern European grasslands.

He is also an expert botanist and is the co-author of Wildflowers in Transylvania which was published in 2010. László is keen to pass on his knowledge and train the next generation of Lepidopterists and has a team of several research students working with him at his University in Cluj-Napoca.

Previous Winners

Rudi Verovnik

Rudi Verovnik is a lecturer in Biology and Ecology at the University of Ljubljana and is recognised as the leading Lepidopterist in Slovenia. He helped to set up the Society for the Conservation and Study of Lepidoptera in Slovenia and almost single-handedly runs the Slovenian butterfly mapping scheme, which culminated with the publication of the first Atlas of Butterflies in Slovenia in 2012. He has travelled extensively throughout Europe and many other countries studying butterflies and is one of the foremost taxonomists in Europe, having helped to resolve the complex phylogeny of European species to produce definitive lists for the Fauna Europaea that can be used for conservation.

Rudi has served on the Board of Butterfly Conservation Europe since 2007 and has been the leading author of several studies. He has also led a study into the Critically Endangered Macedonian Grayling, a species that was originally known from only one site in the world that was threatened by marble quarrying. Thanks to the work of Rudi and his colleagues from the Macedonian Entomological Society, the butterfly has now been found on several other nearby hills and the known distribution has more than doubled.

Miguel Munguira

Miguel Munguira’s PhD was the first in Spain about the conservation of butterflies, and also possible the first about the conservation of any insect. The subject of his PhD was Spanish lycaenids, including pioneering work on the lifecycles of species. He collected much new data about the biology and ecology of threatened lycaenid species, with a view to their conservation; he received an award for his PhD.

Miguel has made or contributed to over 100 publications including books, reports and scientific papers, for example he co-authored the Butterfly volume of Fauna Iberica. He has written about lycaenid conservation in several butterfly atlases and Red Data books and remains extremely active in this area. Since 2011, Miguel has been chairman of Butterfly Conservation Europe.

Chris Van Swaay

Chris Van Swaay has been a senior officer for Dutch Butterfly Conservation for over two decades and during this time has managed numerous conservation projects and led excellent recording and monitoring schemes, which have gathered over 1.5 million butterfly records. He has brought together data from monitoring schemes across Europe to produce a European Grassland Butterfly Indicator.

Chris has published extensively on trends in butterflies. He led two important studies with Martin Warren, Butterfly Conservation CEO, to produce the first ever comprehensive Red Data Book of European butterflies in 1999, and then a book on the Prime Butterfly Areas of Europe in 2003. In the last decade, he was the lead author on an updated Red List of European butterflies and has co-authored books on climate change and a new Dutch butterfly Atlas.

Chris has helped to develop several new methods of analysis which allow backtracking of species trends from distribution data to show that declines have often started earlier than shown in normal analyses. He has also helped to start recording schemes for moths and dragonflies in the Netherlands, submitting well over 300 publications on the way.

Chris gives talks around the world to promote the study and conservation of butterflies and was one of the founding members of Butterfly Conservation Europe. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of European butterflies and is passionate about their conservation.

 

 

Ilkka Hanski

Professor Hanski of Helsinki University, Finland, is one of the foremost biologists of our age. His career to date consists of approximately 30 academic awards and prizes, and he is a prominent figure in numerous committees, meetings and conferences world-wide. Professor Hanski has been responsible for the career development of more than 70 academics, many of whom now have international reputations in their own right, and has over 300 publications to his name.

Professor Hanski’s research has focused on population regulation, population dynamics, mechanisms of coexistence in communities, and especially metapopulation biology. He is best known, of course, in Butterfly Conservation circles for his research on the Åland islands, where he chose butterflies, specifically the Glanville fritillary, as a model animal for his research, to develop the concepts and practical applications for metapopulations.

This vitally important work, referred to as the Metapopulation Research Group [MRG], represents a massive shift from previous approaches and has enabled conservation organisations to develop firm management plans for changes to animal populations in the face of the degeneration of species and climate change. This work has required immense technical expertise, careful exacting research, imaginative experiments, all of which Professor Hanski has achieved.

 

 

Christer Wiklund

Professor Wiklund (pictured right) is one of Europe’s senior, most prolific butterfly biologists. He has been Professor of Ecological Zoology, in the Department of Zoology, at Stockholm University, since 1986. Before that, he was an Associate Professor in Evolutionary Ecology, funded by the Swedish Natural Science Research Council (NFR).

Elected as member of the Royal Academy of Science (2000), he is also a current member of the Swedish Research Council’s Evaluation Panel for postdoctoral grants. He organised – together with his Stockholm colleagues – a very successful edition of the Congress of Butterfly Biology (1993) and has been an invited keynote speaker at several international conferences (e.g. Behavioural Ecology, Butterfly Biology).

Above all is his astonishing research contribution in butterfly ecology, behaviour, life history and evolution, which has the respect of all researchers in butterfly biology world-wide. His work includes field observations (including long time-series data), controlled, painstaking experiments in the laboratory and in outdoor flight cages, and also breeding experiments. His publications, in high ranking journals covering the broad field of evolutionary ecology, focus almost entirely on research on butterflies. This research has formed the foundation of our knowledge on life history strategies in butterflies, vital for conserving the butterfly fauna of Europe.

Tristan Lafranchis

Tristan Lafranchis has published an authoritative publication on the plants of Greece, but his first, and lifelong love of butterflies is now absorbing his time as he works a new book on the ecology and life history of the butterflies of France. Having worked as a consultant on butterflies in France for many years Tristan emigrated to Greece at the beginning of this century having become disillusioned with ‘conservation’ in France. Those who have accompanied him in the field are constantly amazed how the combination of botanical and butterfly knowledge produce an insight into a butterfly fauna that is shared by very few. If the food plant is there he will find the egg or the caterpillar. This sort of knowledge is the product of a field season that starts in February and ends in November. Much of this time is spent under canvas whatever the weather.

In 2004 Tristan’s ‘Butterflies of Europe’ was published in English. This is by far the best key to identifying the butterflies of Europe available today and most of us carry a copy on our field trips to Europe. It may not be perfect, and some of us would declare that identifying (all) butterflies is far from easy, in contrast to the bold statement on the front of the book, but it is, nevertheless, a thoroughly well thought out key. In addition to the key, it does describe the means by which ‘genitalia’ can be used to differentiate difficult species.

Lazaros Pamperis

Lazaros Pamperis has dedicated his life to butterflies having first become interested as a mountaineer and walker and for years has spent much of his free time exploring the mountains and islands of his native Greece, meticulously recording all the butterflies he has seen, carrying his tent and sleeping bag with him. The results are spectacular and add enormously to our knowledge. He was reticent in his first edition to give even approximate locations for some of the rarer species because of illegal collecting is such a problem in Greece. However the new edition gives distribution maps for all the 234 species as well as phenological diagrams and the accumulated wisdom of many years in the field. There are species accounts and photographs of all species. Some species that cannot be separated in the field are aggregated. Amongst the most useful items included in this comprehensive study is a table of the trend assessment for many species.

 

 

Otakar Kudrna

Dr Otakar Kudrna has dedicated his life to butterflies. He escaped from communist Czechoslovakia to the UK to become Europe’s foremost authority on butterfly taxonomy publishing many papers, particularly a monograph on the genus Hipparchia. Most significantly, he founded Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica and the Mapping European Butterflies program (MEB). His ‘The Distribution Atlas of European Butterflies’, (2002), is based on the observations of collaborators all over Europe. This work is currently being used to investigate the effect of climate change and habitat loss as it provides a baseline from which changes in range can be compared.