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Fellows Directory

Ilkka Hanski

Ilkka Hanski

Professor Ilkka Hanski ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 2005


Ilkka Hanski was a Finnish ecologist, world-renowned for his contribution to population biology. With his theoretical work and long-term field study of the Glanville fritillary butterfly, Ilkka established the concept of metapopulation — a network of local populations inhabiting a fragmented landscape. His work supported conservation efforts to prevent regional extinction of species disrupted by human land use.

Since 1991, he studied the metapopulation of the Glanville fritillary on the Åland Islands in southern Finland. This has become a classic model system for ecologists around the world. The study is helping to determine the conditions necessary for species’ survival under the pressure of human land use.

Ilkka established the Metapopulation Research Centre at the University of Helsinki in 1991, recognised as a Finnish centre-of-excellence since 2000. In 2011, he was awarded the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ Crafoord Prize, an annual science award in disciplines not reflected in the Nobel Prize categories.

Interest and expertise


metapopulation, population biology conservation biology


  • Balzan Prize

    For ecological sciences.

  • Crafoord Prize

    In the field of biosciences for his pioneering studies on how spatial variation affects the dynamics of animal and plant populations.

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