Juan Carlos Castilla Zenobi is a leading international researcher in the marine biology field and creator of a new paradigm in marine ecology, which incorporates human impact on marine ecosystems into plans for the sustainable management of renewable natural resources.
Starting from biological and ecological principles that he himself helped develop, Professor Castilla authored a pioneering article about human impacts on Chilean ecosystems, which experimentally proved that human activity was radically altering not only particular populations but also the whole coastal ecosystem. In this and later publications, Juan Carlos Castilla defined the ecological tools required for the sustainable short-term management of natural resources while demonstrating the urgent need to establish marine reserves in all our planet’s oceans.
Jeremy Jackson is acknowledged as a leading world expert in the study of the ecology and evolution of marine organisms. Starting from the paleontological studies on coral reefs conducted by the Smithsonian Institute, Professor Jackson coordinated an ambitious research scheme, the Panama Paleontology Project, aimed at analysing how tropical communities have responded over time to fluctuations in sea level.
This project has contributed greatly to our knowledge of the structure of Caribbean coral reefs, even enabling an assessment of the impact of Hurricane Allen on the reefs of Jamaica. The results of the study – which predicted the recovery of the reefs on the grounds that hurricanes had been happening in the area for hundreds of years – turned out to be completely wrong, as Jackson himself stressed, because they did not allow for the impact of human activity.
On realising the importance of human activity for understanding the evolution of marine ecosystems, Professor Jackson began using historical and ecological sources to create what is known as the “historical ecology of marine ecosystems,” a discipline in which ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists and historians pursue the common goal of reconstructing marine ecosystem dynamics.
Scientific achievements of Juan Carlos Castilla Zenobi
Professor Castilla has put his ideas into practice in four fishing villages in Chile. This involved working alongside local fishermen carrying out population and fisheries studies to estimate the natural recovery of stocks; information subsequently used to draw up catch plans for fishery resources. This pilot scheme also served as inspiration for the Chilean Fisheries and Aquaculture Act, which establishes ground-breaking fisheries management measures as well as designating Management and Exploitation Areas for Benthic Resources (shellfish and algae).
Professor Castilla’s scientific productivity and the impact of his research is evidenced by over 125 articles in scientific journals, and the fact that his work is cited on more occasions than that of any other Latin American marine science specialist. His research in the areas of ecology, biology, biological resource management, conservation and oceanography has been written up in leading scientific journals, including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Bioscience, as well as in numerous specialist environmental journals (Ecology, American Naturalist and Trends in Ecology and Evolution, among others). He has also authored 35 chapters, 6 books and 3 field guides, which express his concern to open the latest scientific discoveries to students and society at large.
Scientific achievements of Jeremy B. C. Jackson
Aside from his scientific activity, Jackson has worked tirelessly to alert society to the problems facing the world’s oceans: making documentary films, taking part in seminars, delivering lectures and collaborating with the US National Council of the World Wildlife Fund and the scientific advisory team of the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies.
His research has been published in leading scientific journals (Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Frontiers in Ecology, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Journal of Paleontology and Geology, among others) and he is author of eight books and 28 chapters in collective works.
A member of the American Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he has also been awarded the Smithsonian Institution’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service.