A CSIRO scientist who works on the bees and insects that pollinate food crops has won a prestigious national Australian research prize.
Dr Saul Cunningham has won the 2015 Australian Ecology Research Prize, awarded by the Ecological Society of Australia.
Dr Cunningham said, “Pollinators are really important to agriculture and natural systems, and pollination is valued at more than $200 billion/year globally.”
Our work has shown that diverse communities of insect pollinators provide the best service -- for free. But we need to be thoughtful in our land management to make sure we keep this hard working biodiversity in our agricultural landscapes.”
Dr Raghu Sathyamurthy, Vice President for Research said: “The society is proud to recognize Saul’s innovative science, which has profound implications for how we protect pollinating insects to both sustain biodiversity and support food production.”
Dr Cunningham said he was humbled to receive the prize.
“Like many people, I was drawn to studying pollinators and flowers because they are beautiful,” he said, “but I was shocked when I learned how little is known about this key ecosystem service.”
“Our food production depends on the health and diversity of pollinating insects, so it is crucial that we learn how to develop farming systems that are productive at the same time as supporting biodiversity and important natural processes.” he said.
Past prizes have gone to researchers who looked at things like the impacts of climate change on Australian ecosystems, biodiversity conservation, the decline of native mammal populations, and wildlife population management.
Dr Cunningham will deliver a Plenary lecture on his research at the annual conference of the Ecological Society of Australia in Adelaide in December.
Dr Saul Cunningham
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ESA Director – Hot Topics – Professor Don Driscoll
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ESA Vice President – Research – Dr Raghu Sathyamurthy
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ESA Website www.ecolsoc.org.au
Photo attached: Saul Cunningham, Australian Ecology Research Prize winner
ESA is the peak professional scientific organisation for ecologists in Australia, with 1500 members from all states and territories. ESA has a 50 year history of supporting ecologists, ecological research and promoting ecological knowledge.