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Michael Butler Brown, Ph.D.

Conservation Science Fellow
B.S., University of Maryland; M.A., Columbia University in the City of New York; Ph.D., Dartmouth College

Michael Brown is a joint postdoctoral fellow with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. His research interests center on examining the ecological processes that shape how animals navigate spatiotemporally dynamic environments and how these processes interact across different spatial and temporal scales. The large mammal assemblages of east Africa provide fascinating systems in which to explore the interface of population ecology and spatial ecology, and Brown has spent the last decade studying these processes through the perspective of Grevy’s zebras and giraffe ecology.

Most recently, working with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and local collaborators, Brown developed a conservation science program to inform and implement country-level giraffe conservation strategies in Uganda. As a postdoctoral fellow, Brown is advancing a conservation science program with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and other local collaborators to understand the processes influencing the range-wide giraffe population declines across Africa and to develop sustainable conservation solutions to these issues. A seasoned field ecologist, he embraces the challenges and opportunities afforded by integrating multiple sources of data — from field-based observational and survey data, to telemetry-based movement data and remotely sensed imagery — to synthesize a deeper understanding of ecological systems. He is motivated by applied problems addressing conservation issues with strategies rooted in multidisciplinary approaches across scales.

Brown earned his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Maryland, during which time he also studied wildlife ecology in Tanzania with the School for Field Studies. He later earned his master’s degree in conservation biology from Columbia University, where his thesis examined Grevy’s zebra movement ecology in spatiotemporally heterogeneous landscapes of northern Kenya. After earning his master’s degree, Brown served as the field manager for the Laikipia Zebra Project based at Mpala Research Centre in Kenya. He then earned his Ph.D. in ecology, evolution, ecosystems and society at Dartmouth College, where his dissertation research took a multi-scale approach toward understanding the resource ecology of giraffes in Uganda.  

Recent Publications: 

Brown, M.B., Bolger, D.T. 2020. Male-biased partial migration in a giraffe population. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2019.00524

Brown, M.B., Bolger, D.T., Fennessy, J. 2019. All the eggs in one basket: A countrywide assessment of current and historical giraffe population distribution in UgandaGlobal Ecology and Conservation. e00612