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University of Minnesota

Ecologist Peter Reich garners international award

February 17, 2010

Peter Reich.

Regents Professor Peter Reich is a leading researcher in the field of forest and grassland ecology.

Photo: Patrick O'Leary

Versatile Regents Professor recognized for basic discoveries about plants and the effects of climate change

University of Minnesota ecologist Peter Reich has won this year's BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge award in ecology and conservation biology.

The BBVA Foundation—the philanthropic arm of BBVA Group, a large Spanish banking and finance company—honored Reich for his work in global metabolic plant ecology. Most notably, he discovered universal rules of leaf design and the scaling of plant physiology from seedling to tree, from cell to ecosystem, and from the stand to the globe.

"This contribution radically improves our understanding of and ability to predict terrestrial ecosystem responses to global environmental change," his nomination says. "This includes responses of forests and grasslands to biodiversity loss, CO2, and climate change."

Reich's nomination also cites his work as leader of a unique long-term field experiment that examines interactions of three well-documented global changes: plant species diversity, elevated atmospheric CO2, and nitrogen pollution.

Reich is a Regents Professor in the University's forest resources department. He will receive the award, which includes a cash prize, in Madrid this summer.

The awards honor world-class research and artistic creation in eight categories: basic sciences (physics, chemistry, mathematics); biomedicine; ecology and conservation biology; information and communication technologies; economics, finance and management; contemporary music; climate change; and development cooperation.

"This award would not have been possible without the contributions of the many students, postdoctoral researchers and colleagues with whom I have collaborated over time," says Reich. "BBVA is impressively forward-thinking in recognizing and publicizing the importance of ecological science and conservation to the future health of our planet."

Tags: College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

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More about Reich's award is available from the BBVA Foundation.