Melissa Songer is a Conservation Biologist at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's (SCBI) Conservation Ecology Center. She works primarily on the conservation and landscape ecology of endangered species in Asia and Chad. She uses advanced geospatial technologies to detect human transformation of landscapes and assess its impacts on endangered species and their habitats. Her research integrates extensive collection of ecological data in the field including surveys of endangered species, their movements, and assessments of human communities, with spatial models. She develops science-based strategies for sustaining and restoring species and ecosystems and works extensively with partners on the ground to implement conservation solutions.
B.S., Georgetown College, M.S., University of Oklahoma, Ph.D. University of Maryland.
Songer’s current projects include restoring Przewalski’s horses to their native range in China and Mongolia, movements of Asian elephants, human-elephant conflict in changing landscapes in Asia, restoring and tracking scimitar-horned oryx in Chad, and restoring giant panda landscapes in China. She also leads the Smithsonian’s Myanmar Initiative to study and sustain the biodiversity of this critical global hotspot. This is a pan-science Smithsonian initiative with the goal of leveraging existing resources and expertise to answer fundamental questions about biology of species, drivers of extinction, landscape function, and ecosystem health.
Songer integrates capacity building with all her research and conservation programs through training and mentoring protected area staff, conservation professionals, and graduate students in conservation GIS and wildlife monitoring. She conducts courses and workshops in the U.S. and abroad and has trained more than 900 individuals representing over 40 countries.
Allendorf, Teri D., Aung, Myint, Swe, Khine Khine and Songer, Melissa. 2017. Pathways to improve park-people relationships: Gendered attitude changes in Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary, Myanmar. Biological Conservation, 78-85. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2017.10.005
Bhagwat, Tejas, Hess, Andrea, Horning, Ned, Khaing, Thiri, Thein, Zaw Min, Aung, Kyaw Moe, Aung, Kyaw Htet, Phyo, Paing, Tun, Ye Lin, Oo, Aung Htat, Neil, Anthony, Thu, Win Myo, Songer, Melissa, LaJeunesse Connette, Katherine, Bernd, Asja, Huang, Qiongyu, Connette, Grant and Leimgruber, Peter. 2017. Losing a jewel-Rapid declines in Myanmar's intact forests from 2002-2014. PloS One. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176364
Connette, Grant M., Oswald, Patrick, Thura, Myint Kyaw, LaJeunesse Connette, Katherine J., Grindley, Mark E., Songer, Melissa, Zug, George R. and Mulcahy, Daniel G. 2017. Rapid forest clearing in a Myanmar proposed national park threatens two newly discovered species of geckos (Gekkonidae: Cyrtodactylus). PLOS ONE, 1-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174432