The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, which launched on January 25, 2010, serves as an umbrella for the Smithsonian’s global effort to conserve species and train future generations of conservationists. The SCBI is headquartered in Front Royal, Virginia, at the facility previously known as the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center.
The SCBI facilitates and promotes research programs based at Front Royal, at the National Zoo in Washington, and at field-research and training sites around the world. Its efforts support one of the four main goals of the Smithsonian’s new strategic plan, which advances “understanding and sustaining a biodiverse planet.”
Conservation biology is based on the premise that the conservation of biological diversity is important and benefits current and future human societies. National Zoo scientists (among the pioneers in the field of conservation biology) have long been leaders in the study, management, protection, and restoration of threatened species, ecological communities, habitats, and ecosystems.
As the benefits of conserving biodiversity become more commonly understood, the SCBI will allow Smithsonian scientists to be recognized as leaders in developing ways to stem the loss of biodiversity and aid in the recovery of endangered species and habitats. SCBI conducts research to aid in the survival or recovery of species and their habitats, and to ensure the health and well-being of animals in captivity and in the wild.
Our scientists are world leaders in conservation biology who work all over the globe. Learn more.
The Institute consists of six centers: The Center for Animal Care Science, the Conservation Ecology Center, the Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability, the Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, the Migratory Bird Center, and the Center for Species Survival.
Centers often collaborate with each other and with other Smithsonian Institution units and outside organizations.
Collaborative Research Initiatives
Amphibians are vanishing at an unprecedented rate of species loss and deserves an unprecedented conservation response. The National Zoo's science centers are helping to lead the response to this global extinction crisis. Learn more.
SCBI is a member of Conservation Centers for Species Survival, a group of five centers that collectively manages more than 25,000 acres devoted to endangered species study, management and recovery. Learn more.
SCBI scientists work with leaders, scientists, and conservation managers from 13 countries where tigers still roam to help save this magnificent creature from extinction, and ensure a future world populated with tigers. Learn more.
Researchers at Smithsonian’s National Zoo were the first to identify and are the world leaders in research on the elephant herpesvirus, which threatens elephant populations worldwide. Learn more.
Smithsonian scientists use camera traps—automated cameras with motion sensors—to study animals in the wild. Smithsonian WILD collects these wildlife photos, more than 202,000 so far, and allows the public to see exactly what scientists see in their research: wildlife at close range. Learn more.
Science Centers of Excellence
The National Zoo is devoted to being a leader in animal care. Taking care of animals is a complex, demanding, multifaceted endeavor. The Center for Animal Care Sciences provides for the mental and physical well-being of every animal at the Zoo. Learn more.
The CEC focuses on recovering and sustaining at-risk wildlife species and their supporting ecosystems in key marine and terrestrial regions throughout the globe. Learn more.
Scientists at the CCES protect the planet’s biodiversity by teaching conservation principles and practices. They work to find ways to help scientists, managers, companies, and industries become more environmentally responsible. The CCES recruits, educates, and intellectually equips the next generation of conservation professionals. Learn more.
Scientists at the CCEG work to understand and conserve biodiversity through genetic research. They specialize in the genetic management of wild and captive animal populations, non-invasive and ancient DNA analyses, systematics, disease diagnosis and dynamics, genetic services to the zoo community, and application of genetic methods to animal behavior and ecology. Learn more.
The Migratory Bird Center studies Neotropical songbirds and wetland birds, the role of disease in bird population declines, and the environmental challenges facing urban and suburban birds. They also train professionals in environmental coffee certification throughout Latin America. Learn more.
CSS scientists research issues in reproductive physiology, endocrinology, cryobiology, embryo biology, animal behavior, wildlife toxicology, and assisted reproduction. They strive to create knowledge that ensures self-sustaining populations in zoos and in the wild. Learn more.