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Cheetah activist, Duke professor get Tyler Prize

March 10, 2010 |  7:15 pm


Two conservationists who focus on ecosystem function and restoration were granted the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement from the University of Southern California.

The $200,000 award will go to Laurie Marker, the co-founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Otjiwarongo, Namibia, and professor Stuart Pimm, the Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Both were recognized “for their scientific contributions, their understanding of ecosystem functions and for their applications of this knowledge to the management and restoration of ecosystems to the benefit of their inhabitants.”

Marker founded an organization in Namibia to study and protect the cheetah, an animal she has worked with for more than 30 years. The organization approaches habitat preservation in a way that also focuses on the residents in the habitat, offering them economic opportunities that build a constituency for conservation.

Pimm won the prize "in recognition of his work to delineate the structures of ecological food webs, to understand the expected lifetimes of plant and animal populations and to determine the populations that are most vulnerable to risks of extinction and those that have the capacity to recover most rapidly from disturbances."

A professor for 36 years, Pimm has contributed to more than 200 journal articles, many of them as lead author or sole author, and managed research projects around the world. He also has served as a policy advisor and source for media interviews.

The prize was established by the late John and Alice Tyler in 1973 and has been awarded annually to 61 individuals and four organizations associated with world-class environmental accomplishments.

-- Geoff Mohan

Photo: An African cheetah in the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park. Credit: Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo