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Pete Marra

Center Head
M.S., Louisiana State University; Ph.D., Dartmouth College

Marra's research in avian conservation science has three broad themes, including the ecology of migratory birds, urban ecosystem ecology and disease ecology. Marra's primary interests lie in understanding the factors that control population persistence and dynamics, so his research examines the roles of climate, habitat, food and pathogens, as well as other direct sources of mortality on the individual condition of both individual migratory and resident birds and their populations.

Marra's research is both fundamental and applied, and emphasizes incorporating events throughout the annual cycle to understand how more complex interactions across seasons drive the ecology and evolution of life-history strategies. To that end, Marra is ambitiously pursuing technological solutions to track animals, from dragonflies to bats, throughout their lifetimes.

Marra has founded several large research and communication initiatives, including Neighborhood Nestwatch, The Migratory Connectivity Project and the Animal Mortality and Monitoring Program. Communicating his science and his excitement for the conservation of wildlife to as wide an audience as possible, including the general public, is a high priority of his overall program.

Marra and his students, post docs and colleagues have published their papers in Science, Nature, PNAS, PLOS Biology, Proceedings of the Royal Society, Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation and Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
He earned an M.S. from Louisiana State University in 1989, a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College in 1998 and has been a conservation scientist at the Smithsonian Institution's Conservation Biology Institute since 1999.
Marra is co-founder of Tree House Concerts, an ultimate frisbee player, avid fly fisherman and passionate cook.