Prof. Carlos Duarte is a world-wide leader in multiple branches of biological oceanography and marine ecology. He established himself very early in his career as the world-wide leading authority on the ecology of seagrass meadows. He published on all aspects of seagrass ecology, from population biology to genetics, from depth and geographical distribution patterns to their role in biogeochemical cycles, and from conservation strategies to their sensitivity towards climate change. Prof. Carlos Duarte is probably the most versatile aquatic ecologist of his generation: he works from the tropics to polar ecosystems, from macrophytes to microbes, from coastal systems to open ocean gyres using all type of approaches. Many of his synthesis papers have set the stage for the field; e.g. his work initiated the discussion on the heterotrophic nature of oligotrophic systems and identified the role of hypoxia thresholds for marine biodiversity. His research is characterized by independence, creativity, serendipity and interdisciplinary linking, as well as the capacity to organize and collaborate with large interdisciplinary teams. Prof. Duarte's research is also characterized by versatility addressing marine ecosystems from the tropics to polar ecosystems, from macrophytes to microbes, and from coastal systems to open ocean gyres using a broad range of approaches.
"Carlo Heip International Award for outstanding
accomplishments in marine biodiversity science"
Prof. Carlos Duarte has made a number of fundamental contributions in the ecology of coastal ecosystems, particularly seagrasses, where he has published on all aspects of seagrass ecology, from population biology to genetics, from depth and geographical distribution patterns to their role in biogeochemical cycles, and from conservation strategies to their sensitivity towards climate change. His pioneering work on seagrasses and other vegetated systems eventually lead – in collaboration with different UN agencies - to the development of "blue carbon" strategies, which has provided a strong impetus to the conservation of vegetated coastal ecosystems. More recently, his publications have been instrumental to advance our understanding of the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems, organisms and biodiversity. He has also contributed original work to science in support of policy and management towards sustainable use of ecosystems and other coastal ecosystems, and their management to deliver benefits in terms of climate mitigation and adaptation. Recognizing the many gaps in our understanding of the deep-sea pelagic ecosystem, Duarte lead the Malaspina Circumnavigation Expedition, involving more than 500 scientists, and that sailed the oceans between 2010 and 2011 to provide a global assessment of the deep-sea pelagic ecosystem. The Malaspina Circumnavigation Expedition has thus far released 150 publications addressing different aspects of the biodiversity and function of the deep-sea ecosystem. He has contributed to set research programs in many areas, e.g. his work initiated the discussion on the heterotrophic nature of oligotrophic systems, identified the role of hypoxia thresholds for marine biodiversity and clarified the role of shifting baselines in restoration. During the last decade, his publications have been instrumental to advance our understanding of the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems, organisms and biodiversity. Prof. Duarte's work has broadened to address the role of the ocean in providing solutions to humanity's grand challenges, through research and education, including sustainable food, water, energy and bioresoures. Prof. Duarte also alerted to the role of the ocean in solving the forthcoming food crisis, and provided a path to achieve this goal in a sustainable manner. Prof. Duarte currently leads a large, transdisciplinary project to develop a new generation of sensors to monitor marine life and ocean health by integrating nanotechnology, sensor engineering, marine ecology and oceanography and big-data approaches.