Kim Terrell, a Ph. D candidate at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, was awarded the prestigious David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship by the Society for Conservation Biology. This program seeks to develop future world leaders and entrepreneurs who are successful at linking conservation science and application.
Under the mentorship of SCBI amphibian biologist Dr. Brian Gratwicke, Terrell will develop a research program at the National Zoo focused on the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis), a large, aquatic salamander native to the northeastern United States.
“The hellbender is the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for Appalachian biodiversity,” Terrell says. “Wild populations are very sensitive to environmental change due to their unique physiology. By identifying these changes early on, we can develop proactive management strategies to ensure species survival in this diverse ecosystem.”
Brian Gratwicke, Terrell's mentor, agrees: "Appalachian salamanders are one of the great, distinguishing biodiversity features of North America, yet we have a poor understanding of how to monitor them, so they are a rather neglected group of animals from a conservation perspective,” Gratwicke says. "We are thrilled to have someone of Kim's caliber working to ensure that their populations are sustained for future generations."
Smith Fellowships provide two years of postdoctoral support to outstanding early-career scientists.