Throughout his career, Hal Mooney has motivated generations of ecologists and nudged us to extend our academic boundaries.
While my generation was laying foundations in plant adaptation, fundamentals of ecophysiology, and population interactions in the 70’s and 80’s, Hal was laying the groundwork for us to also address the broader issues of global ecology and biodiversity where our science focus is today. He was forging a transition from a primary focus on basic ecology to one that also included those fundamental issues of broad relevance to society. Today we see that this is where our science becomes important to making progress on global change issues that now face society. A valuable lesson, so critical to today, has been to understand how our science evolves, how new scientific opportunities emerge, and how interdisciplinary sciences take shape at both national and international scales. An important question to ask is, “Where is our science today as a result of Hal’s science, vision, and leadership?” In this talk, I focus on several themes. First, how have his field-and lab-based ecophysiological studies of the 60’s and 70’s lead to mechanistic approaches now common in ecosystem studies today? By the 70’s and 80’s, Hal’s integrative focus was on carbon balance, ecological tradeoffs, and convergent evolution. Second, how did these pioneering approaches open the door for the trait-based analyses that dominate ecology today? Lastly, can we trace current major research and policy themes today on invasive species, global ecology, and sustainability to Hal’s seminal contributions and his leadership at both national and international scales? Hal nudged me and others to broaden our research and embrace an emerging field called global ecology. His impact permeates ecology today. There is a not-so-secret sauce to Hal’s success that young scientists should consider today as we seek solutions to global challenges today. It is Hal’s melding of an interdisciplinary vision with an inviting and gregarious leadership, an emphasis on forging partnerships among science and stakeholders, and a selfless willingness to invest time. We see Hal’s lasting impacts today through changes in the Ecological Society of America and through new developments in both national and international science, such as the Sustainable Biosphere Initiative (SBI), International Geosphere Biosphere Program, Global Changes and Terrestrial Ecology, Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment, DIVERSITAS, Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, and of course, the development of Ecological Applications, an ESA flagship journal.