“Robin’s first major contributions to tropical biology began with his work on Barro Colorado Island (BCI) in Panama. Due to his insistence that progress in community ecology depended on accurately identifying the species involved, Robin spent an enormous time to exhaustively catalogue the flora at BCI in order to gain insight into the ecological processes that were driving dynamic patterns in the entire community. This lead to the creation of the first 50-ha tropical dynamics plot, which has since transformed the whole field of ecology, spurring new approaches to research on dispersal limitation, density-dependence, gap dynamics and even inspiring whole new theories such as the Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography. The establishment and re-census of this first forest dynamics plot was a new way to study tropical forests’ spatial and temporal dynamics, and we now have 47 such plots in 21 countries with more than 8 million trees mapped and monitored. It is without a doubt that Robin’s vision has transformed the way we ask questions in tropical ecology.”
Website at the Field Museum, Chicago.
Nomination Letter by Paul Fine, Margaret Metz, Lissy Coley, Kaoru Kitajima, Nancy Garwood, Corine Vrisendorp, Rick Condit, Steve Hubbell, Lourens Poorter, Lúcia Lohmann, Marielos Peña