Conservation Biology at the National Zoo
A Science Plan: 2006–2016

Excellence in Conservation Biology

Our scientists play a central role in ensuring that the Zoo achieves its mission of providing leadership in animal care, science, education, and sustainability. Their research contributes to a central goal of Smithsonian Science: to study and understand biological diversity. And of critical importance, our scientists conduct fundamental hypothesis-driven research and develop science-based solutions to conservation problems.

Conservation biology is a relatively young science that uses interdisciplinary approaches to address the challenges to maintaining biological diversity. By definition, conservation biology is value-driven, based on the premise that the conservation of species diversity, ecological systems, and evolutionary processes are important and benefit both current and future human societies. And, by its very nature, conservation biology must be adaptable because in our changing world, threats to biodiversity will continue in new and uncharted ways.

National Zoo scientists were among the founders of the field of conservation biology, and continue as leaders today, with global perspectives, diverse expertise, and long-term experience in conducting interdisciplinary zoo- and field-based research. We lead in the study, management, protection, and restoration of threatened species, ecological communities, and ecosystems. In the future, we will continue to build on this solid foundation by harnessing the intellectual resources of professionals within the National Zoo, from other Smithsonian science programs, and external organizations and agencies to expand our capabilities, leverage resources, exchange information, and increase our flexibility and responsiveness to change.

National Zoo scientists are based in Washington, D.C., as well as at the Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center (CRC) located in Front Royal, Virginia, and at field sites around the world. Our success is enhanced through partnership with biodiversity and conservation scientists, social scientists, and educators from across the Smithsonian. We believe that science is essential to understanding and mitigating the negative effects of environmental change on the survival of species and their habitats. We also believe that the impact of our science can be greatly amplified through professional training in conservation biology and through public education and outreach to inspire others to care for the world’s biological diversity.

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