Harold (Hal) Mooney has made diverse and influential contributions to many key areas of ecology, including physiological plant ecology, ecosystem ecology, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, invasive species, and international science and policy initiatives. Following completion of a Ph.D. at Duke University in 1960, he took up a position at the University of California-Los Angeles the same year. He joined the staff at Stanford University in 1968 and has been there ever since. Mooney is one of the pioneers in plant physiological ecology and has also focussed on global change phenomena, such as ecological invasions, the loss of diversity and the degradation of ecosystems. His work has ranged from measuring the adaptations of individual plants to examining how human activities modify the functioning of the Earth as a whole.
Spanning 6 decades, Mooney’s career reflects the development of ecology as a quantitative and predictive science that has a key role in policy and practice at all levels from local to global. In this talk I will provide an overview of this development across some of the main areas in which Mooney has been influential.
Early work on carbon storage and photosynthesis in alpine and arctic plants led the way to a broader development of physiological plant ecology and ecosystem ecology across a wide range of environments, and included important comparative work among different Mediterranean climate regions. Mooney spearheaded the early development of investigations into the link between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and also led international programs on the ecology and impacts of invasive species. These programs developed into interdisciplinary efforts to understand and influence the socioeconomic and policy drivers behind invasions and other global change phenomena. Landmark international efforts such as the Global Biodiversity Assessment and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment reinforced the importance of species and ecosystems from both conservation and ecosystem services perspectives. The development of IPBES continues these efforts.
Talks in this symposium cover the development of various strands of this work, as well as several other areas where Mooney has played an important role. Importantly, several presentations also highlight the important role Mooney has played in mentoring several generations of ecologists and in advocating for the importance of pushing the science-policy interface at all levels.