Daikin Prize for Biodiversity – The 8th Edition (2022)

Daikin is well-known for the effort they make to positively impact society and the world we live in. That is possible thanks to the development of sustainable and efficiency-oriented technology, but that is not the only way the company pursues this goal.

This year, the 8th in a row, Daikin Applied Europe has supported research with the Daikin Prize for Biodiversity Conservation, partnering up with Sapienza – University of Rome, to support scientific research in the field of Biodiversity Conservation.

The Daikin Prize for Biodiversity Conservation

The Daikin Prize for Biodiversty Conservation, springs from the desire to support research in the field of Biodiversity, rewarding the work of young researchers who are creating a conversation around the subject-matter, aiming to make a positive impact on society through knowledge.

The prize is now a well-established award in the field. “It was something totally new in the field of biodiversity in Italy, as there was no such a thing before Daikin Applied Europe and La Sapienza University started partnering up 8 years ago” (Moreno di Marco – Research Fellow – Department of Biology and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of Rome (Italy).

This year’s winner

This year Daikin is pleased to announce the new award winner – Costanza Geppert.

Graduated from La Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), studying Ecobiology, she got her Master’s Degree at the University of Gottingen (Germany), investigating European policies supporting pollinating plants and insects in the agricultural environments.

She has recently completed her PhD in Crop Science at the University of Padua (Italy), studying how climate warming, anthropogenic disturbance and interactions with herbivorous insects influence changes in plants distribution.

She is now continuing her research work at the Department of Agronomy of the University of Padua, researching the influence of anthropic activities on the animal and plant species surrounding us.

The winning project

Our planet is experiencing an accelerated phase of change and many species are struggling to keep up. Some adapt, others face extinction, many change their distribution, that is the framework of the winning work.

Using a combination of different approaches – manipulative to some extent – on different spatial and temporal scales, Costanza Geppert tried to understand how global change is modifying the distribution of vascular plants. For three years she studied the effect of important changes of anthropogenic origin in the Alps, studied how alien plants are spreading in mountain environments, once considered untouched, and how some species of plants move towards the peaks of the mountains, to escape the rise in temperature, while others are becoming increasingly rare. What has consistently emerged from all the studies is that only a multifactorial approach can help predict the response of biodiversity to global changes. Too often, only climate change is studied, creating unrealistic models that do not help designing effective conservation strategies. A scenario based only on the increase of temperature is not only not plausible but tends to underestimate changes. The roles of biotic interactions and phytophagy need to be considered, as those are very relevant in the modification of plants’ settlement dynamics. In fact, in addition to abiotic factors, such as temperature, drought or alteration of the environment, the winning research work highlighted how the relationships between various organisms – phytophagous insects and plants, for instance – have an impact on plants distribution.

The common background between Daikin and researchers’ work

“I think that doing research is often a choice dictated by the desire to contribute to the cultural, scientific, and technological progress of society. That is the same desire that moves Daikin – creating a new relationship with the environment” - Costanza Geppert said.

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