Conservation Biology at the National Zoo
A Science Plan: 2006–2016
Science, Capacity Building, and Public Education
National Zoo scientists are uniquely positioned to understand why some species adapt and others decline or go extinct in the face of environmental change.
These questions can be addressed by studying patterns of morphological, genetic, and behavioral variation; ecological specialization; dispersal and migration strategies; responses to habitat fragmentation; and wildlife health and reproductive sciences. Such research also provides insights into what determines species survival in the face of ecological crises, a fundamental question in evolutionary biology.
An enhanced understanding of vulnerabilities will help us forecast the changes that contribute to population declines and ecosystem degradation, and then to develop ways to mitigate those factors before they become irreversible.
For more than two decades, National Zoo scientists have made a major commitment to educating conservation professionals by emphasizing scientific approaches to studying, recovering, protecting and managing species and the habitats they require for survival.
Our science-based, public education programs are designed to foster awareness and understanding of biodiversity and the role that humans play in shaping its future.
Science is essential for explaining to the public, Members of Congress, decision-makers, agency authorities, and potential donors why the conservation of species and their habitats matter to human health and economic security.
Our science-based education programs link animals in our collection to the biosphere, allowing visitors to explore the wonders of nature, to understand the factors responsible for species evolution and decline, and to learn how citizens can mitigate our adverse impacts on species and their habitats.