Stan Yavno receives Arnold Berliner Award 2015

Marine scientist honored for his research on the plasticity of the pumpkinseed sunfish

New York | Heidelberg, 8 May 2015

The Arnold Berliner Award 2015 has been presented to Stan Yavno from Tel Aviv University and the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, Israel. He receives the award for his research on the phenotypic (morphological) plasticity of native and non-native pumpkinseed sunfish, published in Springer’s flagship multidisciplinary science journal, The Science of Nature (formerly known as Naturwissenschaften).

Non-indigenous species are often exposed to ecosystems with unfamiliar species, and organisms that exhibit a high degree of phenotypic (morphological) plasticity may present better ecological adaptations with novel competitors they encounter during range expansion. In his study, Yavno and his colleagues demonstrated differences in such plasticity using young-of-year pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus) from native North American and non-native European populations. These findings are significant because high levels of such phenotypic plasticity are expected to facilitate range expansion of species into new areas, where biotic and abiotic conditions are unlike those from their source of origin.

Sven Thatje, Editor-in-Chief of The Science of Nature, said, “Stan Yavno’s work is a milestone in advancing our understanding of how an invasive population can differ in its ecological adaptations from populations in its area of origin. Surprisingly, selection for ecological traits in an invasive population can be advantageous over the more diversity arrays of ecological responses – described by phenotypic plasticity – found in its native area of distribution.”

Stan Yavno is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Tel Aviv University and the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, Israel. He received his PhD from Trent University in Peterborough, Canada. His areas of research are the behavior and morphology of fishes, with a special interest in the field of invasive species. His work has been presented at fisheries meetings in both North America and the UK. His current research plans are to investigate how morphological traits contribute to the survival of marine fishes during their earliest stages of life (less than 24 days post-hatching).

The Arnold Berliner Award was established in 2013 in recognition of the journal’s founding editor. The award is given to the principal author of an outstanding scholarly work published in The Science of Nature in the previous calendar year. Criteria for the Arnold Berliner Award are excellence in science, originality and, in particular, interdisciplinarity, overall mirroring Berliner’s motivation for initiating the journal in 1913. Berliner was editor-in-chief of the journal for an exceptionally long period of 22 years. His activities were influential and at the heart of academic life and society of his time.

Peer-reviewed and published in English, The Science of Nature is dedicated to the fast publication and global dissemination of high-quality research of interest to the broader community in the biological sciences. Papers from the chemical, geological and physical sciences, which contribute to questions of general biological significance, are published. The overall aim of The Science of Nature is to promote excellence in research and the exchange of ideas in the biological sciences and beyond.

The article “Morphological change and phenotypic plasticity in native and non-native pumpkinseed sunfish in response to competition” is freely available online at

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