The C. Hart Merriam Award is given to eminent scholars in recognition of outstanding research in mammalogy over a period of at least 10 years. C. Hart Merriam was the first chief of the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy of the United States Department of Agriculture (the precursor of the national Fish and Wildlife Service), and a founding member of the American Ornithologists' Union, the National Geographic Society, and the American Society of Mammalogists. Among other contributions to mammalogy and science, he developed the concept of "life zones" to classify biomes found in North America.
The 2013 recipient of the Merriam Award is from the University of Toronto. Dr. Boonstra has long been a leader in the area of mammalian ecology and physiology. He applies techniques and perspectives from animal behavior, physiology, neurobiology, endocrinology and ecology to address fundamental issues about the interactions of animals with their environment, in particular the role of stress on mammal populations and communities. Professor Boonstra is particularly well known for his innovative research on the snowshoe hare cycle. Here, his work has been seminal, engendering many thousands of citations and much popular press and leading to the development of a research area, ‘the ecology of fear’. Professor Rudy Boonstra is an active and internationally renowned mammalogist, whose excitement for ideas and sheer intellectual power have led to a better understanding of the role of stress in natural populations of mammals.