Fred Allendorf literally wrote the book on conservation genetics, as part of a career of research ranging from basic evolutionary biology to studies of the specific genetic risks incurred by rare and endangered species. The 2015 Molecular Ecology prize recognizes these contributions, as Michael K. Schwartz lays out in the award essay in the journal:
Fred was a forerunner in the field of conservation genetics. He has been called the grandfather of the field, in part because he had such an easy grasp of population genetics theory, yet cared about real molecular data and how it could be applied to conserve imperilled populations. In 1986, he published two very important papers. The first called ‘genetic drift and the loss of alleles versus heterozygosity’ (Allendorf 1986), where Fred shows the dangers associated with the use of only heterozygosity to predict the loss of genetic variation during bottlenecks. He notes in this work that the number of alleles that remain postbottleneck will likely be important to the long-term evolutionary response to selection, and thus the survival of a species. … The next important paper was the review of heterozygosity and fitness in natural populations in Michael Soule’s second Conservation Biology book (Allendorf & Leary 1986). Here, Fred was showing how first principles of population genetics should be used to conserve natural populations.
Fred received a silver plate commemorating the prize before presenting in the Biodiversity Research Centre seminar series this week at the University of British Columbia.