Peter Leimgruber is the Director for Conservation and Science of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (SNZCBI).

Previously, he served as the director of SNZCBI's 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 SNZCBI'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.

Research Interests

Species and landscape conservation in socio-ecological systems with a special focus on understanding, modeling, and mitigating human impacts on the movement ecology, spatial distribution, and conservation status of critical biodiversity


Asian Elephant Conservation

Asian elephants face critical threats throughout their range. Through satellite tracking and conflict management, scientists are working to save them.

Conserving the World’s Largest Working Wetland

Conservation Ecology Center researchers are collaborating with institutions in Brazil and other Smithsonian colleagues to support sustainable cattle ranching in the Pantanal wetland.

Dhole Conservation in Southeast Asia

Scientists are working to save endangered dholes, or Asian wild dogs, through research, satellite tracking, conflict monitoring and community outreach.

Giraffe Conservation

Giraffes range across diverse African habitats. Smithsonian scientists are working collaboratively and using tools like GPS, satellites and statistics to track and protect them.

Myanmar Biodiversity

Smithsonian researchers help conserve Myanmar's biodiversity through research and capacity building, collaborating with local organizations for the long-term survival of species and ecosystems.

Przewalski’s Horse Tracking and Reintroduction

Through cutting-edge GPS satellite tracking and reintroduction programs, scientists are committed to saving the last truly wild horse species.

Scimitar-horned Oryx Reintroduction

Scimitar-horned oryx once ranged across most of North Africa but are now considered extinct in the wild. Smithsonian scientists are part of a collaborative effort to return oryx to part of their former range.

Studying Large Herbivores Across Laikipia Rangelands in Kenya

Conservation Ecology Center scientists are studying wildlife across a mosaic of private and communal lands in central Kenya where wild animals coexist with people and domesticated animals.

Wildebeest Conservation

Conservation Ecology Center scientists are tracking the movements of white-bearded wildebeest to understand how changes across the landscape impact the species.