Biography

Alfonso Alonso is the acting head of the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute's Center for Conservation and Sustainability. As a conservation biologist, he is passionate about finding how species of plants and animals are distributed in different ecosystems. For the last 25 years, Alonso has developed monitoring programs to minimize impacts on biodiversity during oil and gas projects. For this, he assembles teams of researchers with specialties in different animal and plant groups. His studies work towards avoiding, mitigating, and restoring project impacts and to develop best practices to protect biodiversity.
Alonso established the Gabon Biodiversity Program. Now in its 23rd year, the program aims to document the value of nature for local stakeholders, reduce impacts on wildlife, monitor forest and animal dynamics, and train the next generation of conservation practitioners. He also established the Biodiversity Monitoring and Assessment Program (BMAP), a world-class standard to monitor biological diversity using scientific questions to guide the monitoring program. In addition, Alonso is one of the world experts in monarch butterfly ecology and conservation. 
Alonso received a Bachelor of Science in biology from the National University in Mexico in 1988 which led him to study the ecology and conservation of monarch butterflies. He also studied this endangered phenomenon for his master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Florida. In 1997, Alonso did postdoctoral research at the University of Oklahoma before joining the Smithsonian and has taken advanced training in communications skills, leadership, and project management. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Monarch Butterfly Fund. 
Alonso's interest in nature began early in life as he traveled with his parents to different regions within his native country of Mexico. He enjoys giving lectures and working with people, and has extensive research travel in North, Central and South America, Africa and Asia.

Research Interests

Biodiversity conservation professional who partners with governments, the private sector, financial institutions, and local stakeholders to provide advice on conservation best practices to support decision-making and sustainable development policy

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Projects

Atlantic Forest Conservation in Paraguay

Scientists works with partners in Paraguay to develop best practices for managing protected areas and wildlife. Their research helps support the conservation of species, including jaguars, bush dogs, lowland tapirs and maned wolves.

Biodiversity in the Peruvian Amazon

Through camera trap studies, community conservation programs and collaboration, Smithsonian scientists are working to minimize the impact that natural gas development has on tropical forests and wildlife.

Conserving Amazonian Tropical Ecosystems

In the Peruvian Amazon of Madre de Dios, natural ecosystems provide essential services to local communities. Smithsonian scientists are partnering with stakeholders to  evaluate the region's biodiversity and devise scenarios for future sustainable development.

Conserving and Restoring Temperate Ecosystems

Smithsonian scientists are monitoring biodiversity around the construction of a natural gas pipeline in British Columbia, Canada, to learn about the region's ecosystems and wildlife and contribute to environmental management practices.

Mitigation Hierarchy

This set of guidelines helps development projects minimize their impact on the environment.

Monitoring Potential Impacts of Human Activity on Biodiversity in Peru

Researchers are monitoring the impacts of human activities on biodiversity in the tropical forests of northern Peru.

Working with Industry to Conserve African Forests

Southwestern Gabon’s protected Gamba Complex is home to gorillas, forest elephants and sea turtles; it also contains the country’s largest oil development. Smithsonian scientists and partners are working to protect the region’s forests and biodiversity.