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Leimgruber, Peter

Center Head, Conservation Biologist

Application of satellite remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems to the conservation of species, communities and ecosystems; special focus on landscape ecology of large endangered mammalian species.

Public Biography

  • Peter Leimgruber directs the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's (SCBI) Conservation Ecology Center which saves species and ecosystem through basic and applied research and the development of new and advanced analytical tools and models. Leimgruber's research focuses on advancing conservation applications of geospatial analysis technology to save threatened species and their habitats. He is particularly interested in the movement and migration ecology of charismatic megavertebrates and how these movements can be integrated into landscape-level conservation planning. Leimgruber is using satellite-tracking alongside remote sensing and GIS to track movements of highly mobile species, assess their habitat needs, determine how human and climate-induced changes affect these species' habitats, and develop appropriate conservation strategies.

    Most of Leimgruber's research focuses overseas and he has more than 25 years of experience in international conservation with field projects in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Brazil. Because of his experience in elephant conservation, Leimgruber serves as an advisor to a number of conservation organizations, including the Scientific Advisory Board for Save the Elephants, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Asian Elephant Specialist Group.

    Leimgruber believes that training the next generation of conservation professionals is the most effective way to advance global biodiversity conservation. He and his team have spearheaded the SCBI's internationally renowned training program in conservation GIS, including graduate and undergraduate courses, workshops, and internship programs. In the last 20 years, this program has included 15 post-doctoral students, 10 graduate students, and >100 interns.

International Audience Summary of Expertise

  • Peter Leimgruber is a landscape ecologist and conservation biologist studying biodiversity conservation of extinction-prone species including Asian elephant, Mongolian gazelle, Przewalski's horse, tiger, and giant panda.

    He heads the Conservation Ecology Center (CEC) at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. CEC scientists conduct basic and applied research to save species. Peter also directs the CEC's Conservation GIS Lab. A major focus of his work is conserving mobile and migratory species that spend most of their lifecycles outside protected areas.

    Peter and his team use Geographic Information Systems (GIS), satellite mapping, satellite tracking, and remote sensing to track the movements of highly mobile species. They use these technologies to assess habitat needs, determine how human and climate-induced changes affect the species' habitat, and develop appropriate conservation strategies.

    In the last 15 years, Peter and his lab have provided academic and practice-oriented training to conservation professionals and students, including six postdoctoral students, seven graduate students, 104 interns, and more than 700 short-term trainees. Peter leads SCBI's training and capacity-building efforts in conservation GIS. Peter received his PhD from the University of Oklahoma. Read More