Green Festival Speakers

Stuart Pimm


Professor Stuart Pimm holds one of Duke University's most prestigious chairs (The Doris Duke Chair of Conservation Ecology). He is an outstanding ecologist and the world's leading conservation scientist.

Pimm's publications are extraordinarily influential. He is one of the most quoted ecologists. In the last decade, has Pimm published more than 100 papers, of which a quarter were in Nature, Science, and PNAS. Two of his four books have appeared since 1991. The Balance of Nature? Ecological issues in the conservation of species and communities. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 434 pp. And 2001. The World According to Pimm: a Scientist Audits the Earth. McGraw Hill, New York. (1982) Food Webs, has been reissued (2003) by University of Chicago Press. Pimm's papers are wideranging.

Food Webs was republished simply because, despite its age, it remains the best single introduction to the subject of largescale community structure, its causes, and its consequences. It has an extensive new preface that brings the last two decades of the topic. Pimm is the cofounder of this field (along with Robert May, John Lawton, and Joel Cohen) and their theoretical and empirical contributions have shaped two decades of research. Pimm has three review articles in Nature (one with Lawton and Cohen) on the structure of food webs and the closely related topic of the stability and complexity of ecosystems.

Until recently, Balance of Nature? was Pimm's most important publication and has an (annual) impact factor averaged over the dozen years since its publication over twice that of a article in a major journal such as Nature. It was critically acclaimed by reviewers following its publication. It defines the field of how populations vary of time, how communities are assembled, and how they resist or succumb to change. Pimm reviews what we know about the longterm dynamics and species and communities. Much of that work is his own pioneering studies on the nature of population change (the more time means more variation hypothesis) and on the complexities of communities and how they change. These issues affect how rapidly populations become extinct (and so what we can do to prevent extinctions), how best to understand the effects of species removals and invasions, and how best to restore ecological communities.

Finally, Pimm understands that we must communicate conservation science to those who make decisions. Pimm is not an advocate, but a scientist who believes that scientists must inform and shape policies that have science at their core. This cuts both ways, of course, and he has been energetic in bringing high standards to the academic study of biological diversity. In particular, his 11 years on the board of reviewing editors at Science were marked by a huge increase in the number of papers about environmental issues and about conservation of biological diversity in particular. He has active research programs in many of th