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Melissa Songer, Ph.D.

Conservation Ecologist
B.S., Georgetown College, M.S., University of Oklahoma, Ph.D. University of Maryland.
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.
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.
Recent Publications: 
Stabach, Jared A., Cunningham, Stephanie A., Connette, Grant, Mota, Joel L., Reed, Dolores, Byron, Michael, Songer, Melissa, Wacher, Tim, Mertes, Katherine, Brown, Janine L., Comizzoli, Pierre, Newby, John, Monfort, Steven L. and Leimgruber, Peter. 2020. Short-term effects of GPS collars on the activity, behavior, and adrenal response of scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah). PloS One, Article e0221843. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221843
McEvoy, John F., Connette, Grant M., Huang, Qiongyu, Soe, Paing, Pyone, Khin Htet Htet, Valitutto, Marc T., Htun, Yan Lin, Lin, Aung Naing, Thant, Aung Lwin, Htun, Wai Yan, Paing, Kaung Htet, Swe, Khine Khine, Aung, Myint, Min, Sapai, Songer, Melissa and Leimgruber, Peter. 2019. Two sides of the same coin – Wildmeat consumption and illegal wildlife trade at the crossroads of Asia. Biological Conservation, Article 108197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.108197
Nandintsetseg, Dejid, Bracis, Chloe, Leimgruber, Peter, Kaczensky, Petra, Buuveibaatar, Bayarbaatar, Lkhagvasuren, Badamjav, Chimeddorj, Buyanaa, Enkhtuvshin, Shiilegdamba, Horning, Ned, Ito, Takehiko Y., Olson, Kirk, Payne, John, Walzer, Chris, Shinoda, Masato, Stabach, Jared, Songer, Melissa and Mueller, Thomas. 2019. Variability in nomadism: environmental gradients modulate the movement behaviors of dryland ungulates. Ecosphere, Article e02924. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.2924

Projects: