Sad news came from Ceske Budejovice: outstanding limnologist, gentleman, bright and wonderful person Professor Milan Straškraba left us suddenly, one day after his 69th birthday.
Milan graduated in zoology (hydrobiology) in 1955 from Charles University, Prague, where he was awarded his Ph.D. in hydrobiology in 1961. He was a full professor at the University of South Bohemia (Ceske Budejovice) where he also was vice-rector (since 1995), and for almost 20 years the head of the Biomathematical Laboratory of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
Milan knew six European languages and was a widely educated scientist with an encyclopedic knowledge and viewpoint. Having graduated as a hydrobiologist he was closely familiar with entomology, ecology, chemistry, meteorology, climatology, hydrophysics, statistical methods, and cybernetics, etc. He was the author of more than 200 scientific articles, monographs, proceedings and chapters, many of which have become classic in their field. In his early years, he studied the taxonomy of Crustacea, plankton ecology, and productivity processes in litoral regions of ponds and reservoirs. He published his first scientific article on the distribution of Gammarus (Crustacea, Amphipoda) in Czechoslovakia in 1953 while a student. Later he focused his interests on a study of long-term variability and eutrophication of lakes and reservoirs; relationships between physical and biological variables within the framework of IBP (International Biological Program); and, introduction of statistical and mathematical methods in limnology. As a result, in 1980 Milan published his famous work, The Effects of Physical Variables on Freshwater Production: Analyses Based on Models where he established some fundamental latitudinal relationships between physical and biological characteristics of world lakes, using statistical approaches and that now have become classical. In 1980, Milan pioneered the application of methods and approaches of cybernetics to lake and reservoir modelling and management in a set of articles. It was summarized jointly with Professor A. Gnauck in the book, ‘Aquatic Ecosystems: Modelling and Simulation’. It appeared in three languages (German-1983, English-1985 and Russian-1987). In 1990, Milan’s scientific activity was directed to ecological modelling of lakes and reservoirs; studying mechanisms of phytoplankton photoinhibition; supporting the development of GIS WORLDLAKE for “limnologically studied” world lakes (Ryanzhin and Straškraba 1999); lake and reservoir management; and, many others. One of his latest (1999) monographs published by the International Lake Environment Committee (ILEC) jointly with Professor J. Tundisi was Reservoir Water Quality Management.
Being a brilliant and productive investigator, Milan also was an excellent lecturer and teacher. His lectures on general limnology, mathematical modelling of aquatic systems; reservoir limnology and ecotechnology, environmental management; and, others, attracted many students and scientists at both the Charles and Southern Bohemia universities and in many universities and research centers around the world.
He devoted his life to administrative and management work. Milan was the vice-president of the Czechoslovak (Czech) Academy of Sciences (1991-93); president of the Czech Limnological Society (1994-97); member of the Committee for Science and University Education of the Czech Parliament (1993-96); Chairman of the National Committee for doctoral (Dr.Sc.) dissertations on hydrobiology, entomology and parasitology (since 1998); the Corresponding Member of the Sachsian Academy of Sciences at Leipzig (class of mathematical and natural sciences); member of the Board of ILEC (since 1994); the coeditor of the Internationale Revue der gesamten Hydrobiologie, now Intern. Review of Hydrobiology (since 1988; since 1971 a member of the editorial board); editorial board member of Aquatic Botany (1975-1980); Marine Environmental Research (1977- 1981); Ecological Modelling (since 1980); and, Ecological Engineering (since the start of the journal in 1992).
Milan indicated “sports, particularly skiing, backpacking, swimming and biking” as hobbies in his CV. However, he had no time for these. Despite his health problems and an operation several years ago, Milan worked extremely hard and intensively. Every day he came to his laboratory early in the morning and left in the late evening. Since he was very open to new ideas and discussions, was very friendly to colleagues, and simply a very lovely and jolly person, Milan attracted people. His laboratory was full with visiting scientists from all over the world. Those of us who had the privilege to meet him and work with him will remember an excellent and outstanding limnologist and a great man – Milan Straškraba.
A lot of Milan’s friends and colleagues from around the world sent their deep condolences to Milan’s widow Dr. Vera Straškrabová and family.
Han, B.-P. and Straškraba, M. 1998. Size dependence of biomass spectra and population density. I. The effects of size scales and size intervals. J. Theor. Biol. 191:259-265.
Han, B.-P., Virtanen, M., Koponen, J. and Straškraba, M. 2000. Effect of photo-inhibition on algal photosynthesis: A dynamic model. J. Plankton Res. 22:865-885.
Jorgensen, S.E., Patten, B.C., and Straškraba, M. 1992. Ecosystem Emerging: Towards an ecology of complex systems in a complex future. Ecol. Modelling 62:1-27.
Patten, B.C., Straškraba, M. and Jorgensen, S.E. 1997. Ecosystems emerging: 1. The conservation principle. Ecol. Modelling 96:221-284.
Radtke, E. and Straškraba, M. 1980. Selfoptimization in a phytoplankton model. Ecol. Modelling 9:247-268.
Ryanzhin, S.V., and Straškraba, M. 1999. Geographical information system of the world lakes (GIS WORLDLAKE) for limnological studies. SILnews 27:May, 10 p.
Straškraba, M. 1957. Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Amphipoden-fauna Karpathenrusslands. Acta Soc. Zool. Bohemoslov. 21:256-272.
Straškraba, M. 1964. Preliminary results of a new method for the quantitative sorting of fresh water net-plankton into main groups. Limnol. Oceanogr. 9:268-270.
Straškraba, M. 1965. On the distribution of the macrofauna and fish in two streams, Lucina and Moravka. Arch. Hydrobiol. 16:515-536.
Straškraba, M. 1973. Limnological basis for modelling reservoir ecosystems. In: Man-Made Lakes: Their Problems and Environment Effects. Ackerman, W.C., White, F.G., and Worthington, E.B.(eds.). Geophys. Monogr. Ser. 17:517-535.
Straškraba, M. 1978. Theoretical considerations on eutrophication. Verh. Int. Verein. Limnol. 20:2714-2720.
Straškraba, M. 1980. The effects of physical variables on freshwater production: analyses based on models. In: Le Gren, E.D., and McConnell, R.H. (eds.). Functioning of Freshwater Ecosystems, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 13-84.
Straškraba, M. 1982. The application of predictive mathematical models of reservoir ecology and water quality. Canad. Water Resource J. 7:283-318.
Straškraba, M. 1983. Cybernetic formulation of control in ecosystems. Ecol. Modelling 18: 85-98.