The Ecological Society of Japan

Call for applicants for the 15th Biwako Prize for Ecology

Kihachiro Kikuzawa (Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Biwako Prize for Ecology)

Until now, Shiga Prefecture was the main organizer of the Biwako Prize. From now, the 15th time this prize is to be awarded, the Ecological Society of Japan will assume responsibility for organizing this award.

Shiga Prefecture’s decision to discontinue this internationally recognized prize was for financial reasons. The Ecological Society of Japan since assumed responsibility for organizing this award because of benefits it brought to the society and its members. Unfortunately, the society cannot offer any substantial monetary prize to recipients, as has previously been the case—in fact the society cannot offer any monetary prize.

The value of the Biwako Prize for Ecology is not solely financial, but it is based on numerous factors including its established history, previous (14) recipients and their current activity, prestige, the award ceremony and attendees, and commemorative lectures. With this in mind we ventured that this prize had a non-monetary value warranting its continuation. This prize is increasingly recognized, mainly in East Asia, and if awarded it you will be honored, and your career will benefit. Winners are not limited to members of the Ecological Society, but most past recipients have been members (we expect this to continue). While there is no monetary prize associated with this award, a “supporting group” will be created and led by President Dr. Yahara with the objective to raise funds to (at least) cover recipient travel expenses.

Some members of the Ecological Society of Japan might disagree that our society organize this award. “Why do we take on such a troublesome thing?” We do so because, as mentioned above, we recognize the benefits of doing so outweigh any disadvantages. We do so not just for the merit of recipients, but for the benefits it gives to the society. After the society was incorporated as an organization of public interest, this award can be regarded as a public service. Another objection had been that the Biwako Prize for Ecology had historically been given to researchers working on aquatic matters, primarily in limnology, and that it was unfair to members of other research fields to exclude them from consideration. I agree, but I also think that we should resolve this inequity by creating a new award focused on other fields, rather than to stop underwriting this prize. There is no need to rush the establishment of any new award. Eventually, such opportunities will come.

Finally, with regard to organization, the Biwako Prize for Ecology will be organized by the Ecological Society of Japan, with the Steering Committee for the Biwako Prize for Ecology commissioned by this society. Steering Committee members will elect a Chairperson. A selection committee will be organized under the Steering Committee. The selection committee will report to the Steering Committee regarding the selection of award candidates, and the Steering Committee will make the final decision. Although Shiga Prefecture no longer organizes this award, being the founder of this prize, it will continue to be involved and cooperate to whatever extent it can. The award ceremony will be held in Shiga Prefecture and the governor will award the prize.