Two high-profile conservation biologists--one known for work in the Amazon, the other for his adventures in New Guinea--have been awarded this year's prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Tom Lovejoy of the Smithsonian Institution and the World Bank and Jared Diamond, a professor of physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, are sharing the $200,000 prize, awarded at a 20 April banquet in Beverly Hills, California.
Diamond, 63, and Lovejoy, 59, between them have basically created the field of conservation biology, according to the committee overseeing the award, which is administered by the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Diamond, who applies Darwinian theory to a wide range of fields, has led numerous expeditions in New Guinea to study bird ecology. His work has led to new knowledge about speciation, as well as species competition and coexistence. He also helped New Guinea design its park system.
Lovejoy is perhaps the person most responsible for putting tropical forests on the conservation map. He coined the term "biological diversity"; he developed the concept of minimum critical size for ecosystems; and he thought up the "debt-for-nature swap" as a way to allow poor countries to convert foreign debt to nature reserves and conservation efforts. In the 1970s, he started one of the world's largest controlled experiments, an ongoing project in which teams of scientists study how varying-sized chunks of rainforest sustain biodiversity.