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Peter Leimgruber, Ph.D.

Center Head, Conservation Biologist
Kiel University, Germany; Ph.D., University of Oklahoma.

Peter Leimgruber directs the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's (SCBI) Conservation Ecology Center which saves species and ecosystem through basic and applied research and the development of new and advanced analytical tools and models. Leimgruber's research focuses on advancing conservation applications of geospatial analysis technology to save threatened species and their habitats. He is particularly interested in the movement and migration ecology of charismatic megavertebrates and how these movements can be integrated into landscape-level conservation planning. Leimgruber is using satellite-tracking alongside remote sensing and GIS to track movements of highly mobile species, assess their habitat needs, determine how human and climate-induced changes affect these species’ habitats, and develop appropriate conservation strategies.

Most of Leimgruber’s research focuses overseas and he has more than 15 years of experience in international conservation with field projects in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, China, Thailand, and Malaysia. Because of his experience in elephant conservation, Leimgruber serves as an advisor to a number of conservation organizations, including the Scientific Advisory Board for Save the Elephants, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Asian Elephant Specialist Group. Most recently, Leimgruber represented the Smithsonian Institution’s conservation interests as a member of U.S. delegation negotiating the 2015-2016 action plan for the Science & Technology Agreement between the U.S. and Malaysia.
Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Leimgruber was the technical lead in the development of Global Forest Watch, a civil-society based forest-monitoring tool at the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C. Leimgruber received his doctorate in Zoology. In 2002 he came to SCBI and started the Conservation GIS Lab and program.
Leimgruber believes that training the next generation of conservation professionals is the most effective way to advance global biodiversity conservation. He and his team have spearheaded the SCBI’s internationally renowned training program in conservation GIS, including graduate and undergraduate courses, workshops, and internship programs. In the last 15 years, this program has included 9 post-doctoral students, 15 graduate students, 110 interns, and more than 700 short-term trainees.
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
de Silva, Shermin and Leimgruber, Peter. 2019. Demographic Tipping Points as Early Indicators of Vulnerability for Slow-Breeding Megafaunal Populations. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 171-171. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2019.00171
Goldenberg, Shifra Z., Owen, Megan A., Brown, Janine L., Wittemyer, George, Oo, Zaw Min and Leimgruber, Peter. 2019. Increasing conservation translocation success by building social functionality in released populations. Global Ecology and Conservation, e00604. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2019.e00604