Miguel Bastos Araújo (Brussels, 1969) is a biogeographer seeking to understand how different facets of Life distribute in space and time, and why. He uses a plethora of data-driven and modelling approaches to improve understanding of how climate determines the distributions of species and controls complex properties of self-organised community dynamics. Past, current, and future climate changes offer the context for much of his work as they provide a spatiotemporal laboratory for understanding change.
He obtained a BSc in Geography and Regional Planning from NOVA University of Lisbon (1995), an MSc in Conservation (1996) and a PhD in Geography (2000), both from the University College London. He is a Research Professor of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid, and Visiting Professor Chair of Biodiversity at the University of Évora, while keeping a honorary position at the Imperial College London where he previously held a Professor Chair position in Integrative Biogeography. In the past, he also held faculty or research positions at the University of Oxford, University of Copenhagen, CNRS, and the Natural History Museum in London.
The academic contributions of Prof. Araújo can be appraised by the track record of the scientists he mentored (over 60 researchers and students) and by the impact of his publications (ca. 300 publications), and the funding for research projects and tenders he helped to raise (>€77 million). He has been listed as ‘highly cited‘ by Thomson Reuters, yearly since 2014, and was listed in the Reuters Hot List of Top 1000 Climate Scientists (global position = 57; EU position = 11).
Prof. Araújo contributed to shape modern science of ecology and conservation by pioneering, in the late 90’s, the analyses of large biodiversity data sets, particularly species distributions data, to uncover patterns and mechanisms underlying the distribution of Life and to forecast the effects of global environmental change on biodiversity. More specifically, he devised new techniques for handling the large uncertainties associated with use of large species distributions data, and pioneered treatments of uncertainty in forecasts of biodiversity under global change. He introduced the concept of “ensemble forecasting” in ecology, and led the establishment of the first standards for data and models used in biodiversity assessments. Following the steps of the proponents of systematic conservation planning methodologies and making use of large species distributions data, he was involved in the development of new approaches for establishing conservation priorities and guiding policy making the context of climate change. Overall, his work was instrumental to biogeography, climate change ecology, conservation biology, and macroecology, and some of his model-based assessments of biodiversity now underpin environmental policy reports by the EEA (European Environmental Agency), IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change), and IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), amongst others.
Since 2014, Miguel Araújo has been Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal Ecography (IF>6), previously having served as Deputy-Editor-in-Chief of the same journal, subject editor of the Journal of Biogeography, Conservation Letters, and Geography Compass. He has been also member of the editorial boards of Climate Change Responses, Frontiers of Biogeography, and “Natureza & Conservação”.
In recognition of his work, Prof. Araújo won several prestigious awards, including:
- Appointed Corresponding Member of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences (2023), in the section of Geography and Territorial Planning.
- Awarded the “Visão” Green Prize (2023), for his “Além Risco” project, bridging the gap between theory and practice in the use of nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation.
- Awarded honorary membership to the College of Biologists of Portugal (2020), for “his contributions to the development of biology”. First time given to a non-biologist individual.
- EEF (European Ecological Federation) Ernst Haeckel Prize (2019) to “honour senior scientists for their outstanding contribution to European ecological science”;
- Portuguese National Environmental Fernando Pereira Award (2019) given for notable contributions to environmental conservation;
- Pessoa Prize (2018) awarded to “Portuguese citizens whose contributions have been particularly relevant in the domains of arts, literature, or science”;
- Rey Jaime I Prize (2016) awarded to researchers who contributed “to the improvement of our ecological environment”;
- Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2014);
- IBS (International Biogeography Society) MacArthur & Wilson Award (2013), given to an individual “for notable, innovative contributions to biogeography at an early stage in their career”;
- GBIF (Global Information Biodiversity Facility) Ebbe Nielsen Prize (2013) awarded to researchers that “combine biosystematics and biodiversity informatics in an exciting and novel way”.
He also played key roles in high-profile outreach initiatives. For example, he led and curated the current permanent exhibition on biodiversity, evolution and conservation of “Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales” in Madrid. He also curated the opening session of the 2020 European Green Week, as part of the celebrations of the 2020 Lisbon Green Capital of Europe Award. As Vice-President and Chair of the Expert’s Committee of the Gulbenkian Foundation Award for Humanity he has assisted President Jorge Sampaio and then Chancellor Angela Merkel in the selection of high-profile climate champions. He has equally been supporting the BBVA Foundation in the evaluation of research projects in the field of ecology and conservations, as well as in ranking of nominations for FBBVA Biodiversity Conservation Awards, the Biophilia Award, and Frontiers of Knowledge Award.
On the policy and advisory front, he is President of the Natural and Environmental Science’s Scientific Advisory Committee of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and, since 2019, member of the National Council of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CNADS) by nomination of the Council of Ministers of Portugal. Previously, he served in the scientific committee of DIVERSITAS’ bioDISCOVERY programme. He also contributed to the 2007 4th IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change) Assessment Report, for which the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize. He was also made permanent member to the “Alto Consejo Consultivo de I+D+I” of the Presidency of the “Generalitat y del Gobierno Valenciano”, Spain, and is member of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme’s ‘Independent Scientific Evaluation Group’ (ISEG).
He served as Deputy Director of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, leading the creation of the new scientific training department, and was Vice-President of the International Biogeography Society, where he laid the ground for for turning the IBS newsletter into a scientific journal, now known as Frontiers of Biogeography. He was also involved in several consultancies with governmental organisations, namely for producing a report on the effects of climate change on European protected areas for the Council of Europe, and a study on the effects of climate changes on terrestrial Iberian biodiversity for the Spanish and Portuguese governments. More recently, he assisted the Portuguese government to preparing its post-2020 position on biodiversity for the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Biological Diversity (COP 15) and for the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union.