SWS: Dr. Melissa Songer, Conservation Biologist (SCBI)

Dr. Songer received her MS in Zoology in 1996 from the University of Oklahoma and her PhD from the University of Maryland in 2006.

She has worked at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (formerly known as the Smithsonian Conservation and Research Center) since 1999. Her research is based at the Conservation GIS Lab in SCBI-Front Royal where she works primarily on the conservation and ecology of endangered species in Asia.

Her research is focused on using advanced geospatial technologies to detect human transformation of the landscape and assess its impacts on endangered species and ecosystems in order help sustain and restore species in the wild. She integrates extensive collection of ecological data in the field, including surveys of endangered species, their movements, and assessments of human communities, with spatial models. Her current projects include restoring Przewalski's horses to China's Gobi desert, landscape ecology of dry deciduous forests of Myanmar, movements of Asian Elephants, human-elephant conflict in changing landscapes in Asia, human-nature coupled systems in Myanmar and China, and understanding giant panda landscapes and the effects of climate change on their habitat.

Dr. Songer has 25 peer-reviewed articles and chapters on conservation ecology, 30 presentations at professional meetings, and many educational articles written for the general public. She trains wildlife professionals, graduate students, and teachers in conservation GIS and geospatial technologies and has trained more than 600 individuals representing over 40 countries. During the past decade she has conducted annual training courses for reserve staff, researchers, and graduate students working on giant pandas in China. She helps build conservation capacity through mentoring with interns, graduate students, and conservation professionals in the US and around the world.

Additional information:

Tracking elephants via radio telemetry in the Bago Yoma Image

Preparing satellite collar for deployment on horses


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