Ilkka Hanski

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Ilkka Hanski
Ilkka Hanski.jpg
Ilkka Hanski in 2009.
Ilkka Aulis Hanski

(1953-02-14)14 February 1953
Lempäälä, Finland
Died10 May 2016(2016-05-10) (aged 63)
Helsinki, Finland
Alma mater Helsinki University
Oxford University
Known for Metapopulation Theory [1]
Scientific career
Fields Ecology
Institutions Helsinki University

Ilkka Aulis Hanski ForMemRS [2] (14 February 1953 – 10 May 2016) was a Finnish ecologist at the University of Helsinki, Finland. [3] [4] The Metapopulation Research Center led by Hanski, until his death, [5] has been nominated as a Center of Excellence by the Academy of Finland. The group studies species living in fragmented landscapes and attempts to advance metapopulation ecology research. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] Metapopulation ecology itself studies populations of plants and animals which are separated in space by occupying patches. [11]



Ilkka Hanski took his bachelor's degree and Licentiate's degree in the University of Helsinki in 1976 and Doctoral degree from the University of Oxford in 1979. Hanski was a graduate student in Oxford from 1976 to 1979. He was appointed as a docent in the University of Helsinki in 1981 and in the University of Joensuu in 1983. He worked in the Academy of Finland from 1978 to 1988 as well as from 1991 to 1992. He worked as an acting professor of zoology in the University of Helsinki from 1988 to 1991, and was appointed (full) professorship of zoology in 1993. Hanski served as an Academy Professor for the Academy of Finland from 1996 until his death. [12] In 2000, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. [10]

The central questions of metapopulation biology studies by Hanski have several practical applications. For example, understanding biodiversity and population variability is essential for practical work in conservation biology and in regional planning. Mathematical models developed by the Hanski group can be used to build and promote coexistence of Man and Nature, for instance in urban environments where planning of green areas bears importance.

The field research of the Glanville fritillary butterfly in Ahvenanmaa is a well-known classical model system. The scientific literature produced by Hanski is rather enormous; the ISI Web of Knowledge database suggests that he is the author or co-author of more than 200 scientific articles and has edited several books. As of May 2010 he is the seventh most cited ecologist in the world. [13]

Hanski died of a long-illness on 10 May 2016 in Helsinki, aged 63. [10] [14]


Hanski was also an active advocate of nature and biodiversity conservation, participating in public debates. His central view was that the responsibility of ecologists is not restricted to producing scientific information but includes avid participation in the processes using the information produced.

Awards and recognition

In 2000, he was awarded the Balzan Prize for Ecological Sciences. He was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 2005, [2] [15] the second Finnish scientist ever to receive this award. In April 2006, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the Crafoord Prize in biosciences 2011 "for his pioneering studies on how spatial variation affects the dynamics of animal and plant populations". [16]

In 2010 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). [17]

In 2016, Hanski was awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Ecology and Conservation Biology for opening up an area of ecology that explains how species survive in fragmented habitats and allows to quantify extinction thresholds. In September 2015, he received the honorary title of Academician of Science from the Academy of Finland. [10] [18]

Related Research Articles

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Population ecology Study of the dynamics of species populations and how these populations interact with the environment

Population ecology is a sub-field of ecology that deals with the dynamics of species populations and how these populations interact with the environment, such as birth and death rates, and by immigration and emigration).

Metapopulation Group of separated yet interacting ecological populations

A metapopulation consists of a group of spatially separated populations of the same species which interact at some level. The term metapopulation was coined by Richard Levins in 1969 to describe a model of population dynamics of insect pests in agricultural fields, but the idea has been most broadly applied to species in naturally or artificially fragmented habitats. In Levins' own words, it consists of "a population of populations".

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Glanville fritillary

The Glanville Fritillary is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae. It is named for the naturalist who discovered it and the checkerboard pattern on its wings. These butterflies live in almost all of Europe, especially Finland, and in parts of northwest Africa. They are absent from the far north of Europe and parts of the Iberian Peninsula. To the east they are found across the Palearctic.

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Extinction threshold is a term used in conservation biology to explain the point at which a species, population or metapopulation, experiences an abrupt change in density or number because of an important parameter, such as habitat loss. It is at this critical value below which a species, population, or metapopulation, will go extinct, though this may take a long time for species just below the critical value, a phenomenon known as extinction debt.

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  1. Akst, Jef (18 May 2016). "Population Ecologist Dies". The Scientist. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 Anon (2005). "Research Professor Ilkka Hanski ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015.
  3. "Ilkka Hanski's homepage" . Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  4. "Akatemiaprofessori ja tieteen akateemikko Ilkka Hanski on kuollut". 10 May 2016.
  5. Teemu Hallamaa. "Akateemikko Ilkka Hanski on kuollut". Yle Uutiset.
  6. Hanski, I. (1998). "Metapopulation dynamics". Nature. 396 (6706): 41–49. Bibcode:1998Natur.396...41H. doi:10.1038/23876. S2CID   4405264.
  7. Saccheri, I.; Kuussaari, M.; Kankare, M.; Vikman, P.; Fortelius, W.; Hanski, I. (1998). "Inbreeding and extinction in a butterfly metapopulation". Nature. 392 (6675): 491. Bibcode:1998Natur.392..491S. doi:10.1038/33136. S2CID   4311360.
  8. Hanski, Ilkka (1999). Metapopulation ecology. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-854065-5.
  9. Hanski, I. (1991). "Single-species metapopulation dynamics: Concepts, models and observations". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 42 (1–2): 17–38. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.1991.tb00549.x.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Laine, Anna-Liisa (2016). "Ilkka Hanski (1953–2016) Population ecologist who modelled how species cope with habitat loss". Nature. 534 (7606): 180. doi: 10.1038/534180a . PMID   27279205.
  11. Trivedi, B. (2011). "Profile of Ilkka A. Hanski". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108 (50): 19865–19866. Bibcode:2011PNAS..10819865T. doi:10.1073/pnas.1117176108. PMC   3250115 . PMID   22106273. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  12. "Hanski, Ilkka". Academy of Finland. 13 February 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  13. "Tutkija Ilkka Hanski Yhdysvaltain tiedeakatemiaan - menestyksen takana perhoset -". 3 May 2010.
  14. Akateemikko Ilkka Hanski on kuollut (in Finnish)
  15. Simberloff, Daniel; Ovaskainen, Otso (2020). "Ilkka Aulis Hanski. 14 February 1953—10 May 2016". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 68: 231–250. doi: 10.1098/rsbm.2019.0033 .
  16. The Crafoord Prize in Biosciences 2011 Archived 2012-05-30 at
  17. "Honorary Doctors". Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  18. "Sirpa Jalkasesta ja Ilkka Hanskista t - Suomen Akatemia".