David Tilman is an experimental and mathematical ecologist whose long-term studies found that the number of species in an ecosystem, termed its biodiversity, is a major determinant of ecosystem stability, productivity, carbon storage and susceptibility to invasion. He also investigates how global food demand can be met while minimizing species extinction risks and greenhouse gas emissions otherwise associated with global agriculture.
He earned BS and PhD degrees from the University of Michigan, where he worked on the mechanisms of competition between species. He subsequently developed a general theory of competition for resources that showed that tradeoffs among species are required for multi-species coexistence and that explains why biodiversity impacts ecosystem functioning.
He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the US National Academy of Science, and was awarded the International Prize for Biology in 2008, the Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences in 2010, the Balzan Prize in Plant Ecology and the Margalef Prize in Ecology in 2014, and the BBVA Foundation’s “Frontiers of Knowledge Award” in 2015.
Regents Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair , Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota
Interest and expertise
Earth and environmental sciences
Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
Agricultural and forest science, Ecology (incl behavioural ecology), Evolution