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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: 
Huang, Qiongyu, Wang, Fang, Yang, Hongbo, Valitutto, Marc and Songer, Melissa. 2021. Will the COVID-19 outbreak be a turning point for China's wildlife protection: New developments and challenges of wildlife conservation in China. Biological Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108937
Wang, Yujun, Yang, Hongbo, Qi, Dunwu, Songer, Melissa, Bai, Wenke, Zhou, Caiquan, Zhang, Jindong and Huang, Qiongyu. 2021. Efficacy and management challenges of the zoning designations of China's national parks. Biological Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2021.108962
Yang, Hongbo, Huang, Qiongyu, Zhang, Jindong, Songer, Melissa and Liu, Jianguo. 2021. Range-wide assessment of the impact of China's nature reserves on giant panda habitat quality. Science of The Total Environment. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145081