Ilkka Hanski (1953-2016) is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology. He is particularly well known for his pioneering work in metapopulation biology, where his research has significantly contributed to conceptual and theoretical development.
Metapopulation biology is concerned with the ecological and evolutionary consequences of habitat fragmentation. Hanski’s research is characterised by an effective combination of theoretical and empirical studies. His long-term field study on the Glanville fritillary butterfly in the Åland Islands in Finland, a study started in 1991, has evolved into a unique and internationally well-known model system that has facilitated the study of many key questions in ecology and evolutionary biology.
Hanski has also conducted research on biodiversity and biodiversity conservation more generally. Most recently, he has collaborated in a research project examining the effect of environmental biodiversity on allergies and other chronic inflammatory disorders.
“Scientists are uniquely placed in their capacity to produce, interpret and communicate knowledge across the information society. At the same time, however, research is becoming increasingly specialised into narrow disciplines, and individual researchers may not always have the ability nor the interest to contemplate the wider implications of research results for society and societal change.” – Ilkka Hanski
Hanski received the honorary title of Academician of Science in 2015.