Tom Akre is a program scientist for the Smithsonian's Working Land and Seascapes (WLS) initiative  and founder of the Changing Landscapes Initiative. Working Land and Seascapes seeks to understand and integrate the needs of people and nature, using sound scientific and socio-economic research to drive action and develop sustainable solutions for biodiversity conservation. 

As a leader for WLS, Akre and the executive team are responsible for the scientific direction of the program. They ensures that the baseline biodiversity and ecosystem information needed to understand land and seascapes is developed, while also working with internal and external partners to employ the socio-ecological approaches that result in durable conservation solutions.

Prior to his current position, Akre was the director of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Virginia Working Landscapes program. The program brought local landowners and citizen scientists together with Smithsonian scientists and students to understand best practices for ecosystem and biodiversity conservation on public and private lands in Virginia.

Akre earned his Ph.D. in environmental science and public policy from George Mason University. He completed his postdoctoral training at the Savannah River Ecology Lab at the University of Georgia. Akre has published more than 40 peer-reviewed, popular articles and book chapters on amphibian and reptile ecology and conservation. He maintains long-term research on endangered turtle populations in two working landscapes in Virginia and Mexico.


Changing Landscapes Initiative

Smithsonian scientists work alongside community members in Northwestern Virginia to evaluate the impacts of land-use change on wildlife, ecosystem services and community health.

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.

Wildebeest Conservation

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