The winner of the first European Early Career Conservation Award announced
The first European Early Career Conservation Award goes to Dr. Attila Nemeth for its interdisciplinary research that lead to the discovery of new endemic mammal species in Europe and for its work to increase public awareness of neglected species and for his pivotal role in the establishment of Protected Areas, and national legislation for their conservation in Hungary, Romania and Serbia.
Thanks to Attila Németh and his colleagues’ works; in Hungary all the mole rat species have been elevated to the highest protection rank in the updated species protection list.
Since the beginning of Attila’s research programme a strong communication campaign was put in place with 25 educational articles, 1 educational book and 2 book chapters in educational books, more than 30 TV and radio interviews, and over 70 appearances in broadcasted educational programs. Thanks to this campaign mole rats went from totally unknown animals to familiar ones in Hungary.
Attila’s conservation impacts spans several countries in the Carpathian basins. Attila’s field work and phylogenetic analyses proved that the blind more rats of the central Transylvanian Plateau, in Romania, are a distinct species, endemic of the region, now called Méhely’s blind mole rat (Spalax antiquus ) representing one of the greatest zoological values of this region. The international collaborations established by Attila to study mole rates in Hungary and Romania were instrumental in the creation in 2011 of an intergovernmental Hungarian–Romanian Joint Committee on the Environment, which set as one of its main priorities in setting the investigations of all blind mole-rat species occurring in the two countries.
Attila also discovered through phylogenetic analyses another species of lesser mole rate, now named Vojvodina Blind Mole Rat (Nannospalax montanosyrmiensis ), a species that can only be found in three localities in the whole world between Serbia and Hungary and that should be considered critically endangered. The discovery of this species and the discovery through Attila's field-work of a population at the border between the country were pivotal in the establishment of a trans-boundary protected area system across Hungary and Serbia.
We are proud to acknowledge Attila's achievements with the first European Early Career Conservation Award, and look forward to his guest-keynote talk upon receiving his prize at the Student Conference on Conservation Science in Tihany, Lake Balaton on August 31st.