24 January 2024

Carsten Rahbek receives Distinguished Fellow Award


Professor and Center Director Carsten Rahbek receives the IBS Distinguished Fellow Award for his years of scientific contributions to the field. The ceremony was held at the IBS Biennial Conference in Prague with participation from several CMEC researchers, students, and affiliates.

Carsten Rahbek at the IBS award ceremony
Professor Carsten Rahbek with his award at the IBS Conference in Prague. Photo: Dov Sax.

From the 7-11 January 2024, the city of Prague, Czechia, became the hotspot for biogeography research when the International Biogeography Society (IBS) hosted the 11th Biennial Conference at the Prague Congress Centre with participants and guests from all over the world.

The five-day program centered around various disciplines and subjects within in the field of biogeography highlighted by workshops, symposia, and poster sessions with a high number of participants and presenters from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate (CMEC).  

Amongst the participating researchers were Assistant Professor Hannah Owens who participated with a poster and a talk on marine biodiversity, species distribution patterns and modelling, while Postdoc Julia Heinen gave a talk about extinctions and seed dispersal in island plant-frugivore communities.

Other CMEC contributions featured in the program included poster sessions and talks by PhD Fellow Nick Freymueller, Postdoc Jesper Sonne, Postdoc Antonella Gorosábel, PhD Fellow Tiem van der Deure, Professor David Nogués-Bravo, and Professor Carsten Rahbek.

Hannah Owens and Antonella Gorosábel at the IBS poster session
Two of many CMEC researchers at the conference: Postdoc Antonella Gorosábel (left) and Assistant Professor Hannah Owens at the IBS poster session. Photo: CMEC.

Honouring contributions in research

One of the main events during the conference was the announcement of the 2024 Distinguished Fellows awarded to eight influential researchers, including Professor Carsten Rahbek.

Fellows are chosen for their significant contributions to the scientific society’s objectives via brilliance in basic research and great service to the area of biogeography as stated by the award committee:

Biogeographers employ data and methodologies from many disciplines in the physical and natural sciences to analyze how species and ecosystems interact. By anticipating future range changes and contributing insights to conservation biology, biogeographers give a scientific basis for projecting future range changes. community ecology, and species diversity.

IBS award committee

The Distinguished Fellow Award also recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions over their careers - nominees will typically have been in the profession for a minimum of ten years and will have been involved with the International Biogeography Society for a minimum of one year.

Carsten Rahbek has been associated with IBS for years, including participation in biannual meetings and conferences. In addition, Rahbek has served as Elected President and Board Head for six years from 2014-2019.

30 years of scientific achievements 

When Carsten Rahbek received the award, it was first and foremost on the basis of his scientific contributions within the field as emphasized by the IBS award committee, including:

  • His groundbreaking findings on the richness in species at mid-altitude in mountains, including the Andes, compared to the Amazonian lowlands, and, thereby, refuting common and decade-long scientific beliefs.

  • Rahbek’s work on publishing the first update on Wallace’s famous map in Science in 2012.

  • The 2019 special issue of Science paying homage to the work on von Humboldt featuring two review papers by Rahbek focusing on the question of what causes the global patterns of mountain biodiversity, dubbed “Humboldt’s enigma”.

  • His efforts in developing novel process-based models to explain biogeographical patterns and dynamics of diversity from the deep past to the present, and his work on global patterns of genetic diversity.

  • Rahbek’s involvement in the B10K project aimed at conducting genomic sequences of the world’s bird species.

Carsten Rahbek recieves the Distinguished Fellows Award alongside Anna Kay Behrensmeyer, Janet Franklin, Lawrence R. Heaney, Mark V. Lomolino, A. Townsend Peterson, Jorge Soberon, and Hanna Tuomisto. Professor Robert Whittaker, Oxford University and member of CMEC, received the 2024 IBS Alfred Russel Wallace Award.

The IBS Biennial Conference 2026 takes place in the Danish city of Aarhus. Learn more about the International Biogeography Society

Carsten Rahbek and Robert Whittaker
Carsten Rahbek with fellow award recipient Robert Whittaker at the IBS award ceremony. Photo: Dov Sax.


Professor Carsten Rahbek