The Harper Prize is awarded annually to the best article by an early career researcher, published that year in Journal of Ecology.
We are delighted to announce that we have two winners for our 2020 Harper Prize: Atul Joshi and Blanca Arroyo-Correa!
Here Senior Editor, David Gibson, highlights the importance of these outstanding papers, which both focus on the effects of alien species. We’ll be hearing more from Atul, Blanca, and our other shortlisted authors in an upcoming blog series throughout May, showcasing the research articles nominated for this year’s Harper Prize!
You can also read all 8 shortlisted papers in our new Harper Prize 2020 Virtual Issue. These are free to read for a limited time!
Atul Joshi’s paper shows how alien species can disrupt ecological processes. In this case, Atul and colleagues show that alien species and climate warming can affect the balance between alternate states in a montane tropical forest-grassland mosaic. Fire and herbivory are usually considered to drive forest-grassland transitions. However, through a combination of field germination and seedling survival experiments, Atul showed that frosts and freezing temperatures limit tree establishment into grassland areas of the mosaic. In addition, winter survival of alien Acacia seedlings were less limited than native tree species by cold tropical winter conditions. Future climate warming may change the balance of forests and grasslands in the montane system Atul studied enhancing the invasion of alien Acacia.
Blanca Arroyo-Correa’s paper presented results of a novel study investigating the disruptive effects of both alien plants and alien pollinators on temporal changes in plant-pollinator networks. Field data coupled with species removal simulations showed that alien species in both trophic levels led to rewiring and increased species turnover of plant-pollinator networks. Blanca’s paper not only addresses important concepts related to our understanding of the effects of alien species, but it has important conservation implications suggesting that managers need to account for the seasonal dynamics of trophic interactions.
The British Ecological Society’s seven journals all announced their Early Career Research prize winners today. Congratulations to everyone who won an award! You can read the full announcement here.