Meet the team

To find out more about the people leading the development of the SMSG, please see the profiles of our core team below…

Currently, we have over 150 members, but over the next few years we plan to grow SMSG membership to ensure this is geographically, thematically, and taxonomically representative. We are determined that the SMSG should have a broad member-base that represents the many regions of the world and that provides sufficient expertise to cover the huge group of mammals we represent.

To learn more about some of our members and the exciting work they are involved in, see below…

Alexandra Bezerra

I am a zoologist based at Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belém, Brazil. My main research interests are the taxonomy and systematics of Neotropical rodents and marsupials, including several aspects from morphology and genetic to natural history. Besides, I have particular interest in natural history collections, including curatorial aspects, collection history, and every important subject of the biological scientific collections as main sources for research on (not limited to) evolution, biogeography, epidemiology, conservation and climatic changes. I also have collaborated in research on Nearctic rodents and Mexican squamates with the Università di Roma.

Andrew Burbidge

I am a mostly-retired conservation biologist who has worked on threatened species issues in Australia, mainly Western Australia, for more than 50 years. I was a co-author of “The action plan for Australian mammals 2012”, published in 2014, which we plan to update in 2022. My research interests include mammalian conservation, island biogeography, biosecurity and management, and freshwater turtles. I advise an Aboriginal Corporation in WA’s Kimberley, who are looking after nearly one million hectares of native title land.

Tamás Cserkész

I live and work in Hungary, Central Europe, where my main goals are to develop a more thorough knowledge of the mammal fauna of my country and to protect these species. I am also very interested in the evolutionary history of steppe species, so I make frequent visits to the Eurasian steppes and sometimes to the higher montane regions.

I am currently working on four projects in parallel:

  1. Taxonomy, phylogeny and conservation of birch mice (Sicista, Sminthidae) – Birch mice comprise a forgotten group of rodents in Central Europe. For example, in Romania a birch mouse species was thought to have disappeared for 100 years, until our team rediscovered it in 2012.
  2. Management and conservation of Common Hamster (Cricetus cricetus) in Hungary –  The Common Hamster is endangered in W Europe, and both protected and considered to be a pest by Hungarian law. Its ecological role is increasingly important as one of the main prey species of endangered carnivore species, but it also colonises human villages. Our project tries to help with the scientific evaluation of this hamster, contributing complex microbiological, genetic and ecological studies.
  3. Conservation of the European Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) in Hungary –  The number of known colonies has fallen by 70% in the past 50 years in Hungary, and the trend worsened after 2000. We aim to stop this negative trend.
  4. Taxonomy, phylogeny and conservation of Steppe Polecat (Mustela eversmanii) –  The status of this species is unknown in Hungary, and in Europe. Using different genetic, 3D morphometric and ecological methods we try to learn more about this small carnivore species whose survival is highly dependent on the status of its prey populations, which include hamster and ground squirrel.

Gabor Csorba

My main research interests are the systematics of Southeast Asian bats and the taxonomy, behaviour, and especially the conservation biology of blind mole rats (Spalacinae). These animals – as the only completely blind rodents, living exclusively underground in dry steppes and semideserts of the Western Palearctic – have extreme physical and physiological adaptations, an exciting evolutionary history, and a dark future as a consequence of the disappearance of their habitats.

Guillermo D'Elia

I am a Professor and Curator of the Colección de Mamíferos at Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile. My work is aimed to characterize biodiversity at the genetic, specific, and phylogenetic levels and the comprehension of processes that promote differentiation. Research areas include: A) Phylogenetic systematics: classification and historical biogeography and B) Phylogeography: taxonomy and patterns and processes of differentiation. These studies are collection based and integrate tree-based analyses and the usage of bioinformatic tools and mostly focus on Neotropical rodents.

Amy Deane

I am the founder of Save the Wild Chinchillas and currently work with researchers in Chile and Bolivia on conservation of both Chinchilla species. I have spent over 20 years studying chinchillas. In 1995, I began field studies of wild chinchillas. Since 2000, I have spent most of my time in the field restoring habitat and educating others about the plight of chinchillas. This includes a large amount of time working in the nursery, seed gathering, the maintenance of restoration plots, creating artificial burrows and observation studies. I have assisted in the research of short-chinchillas, the Darwin fox, the Andean bear and burn compartments of the Ordway Preserve (Florida) by creating GIS databases, and have also enhanced habitat of endangered birds and bats.  As a graduate student at the University of Florida, I was involved in nest depredation studies.

Laurent Granjon

I began my career at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, in 1991, before joining the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) in 2006. Based in Paris (France), then Bamako (Mali), Montpellier (France), Dakar (Senegal) and since 2014 again in Montpellier, I am affiliated with the Centre for Biology and Management of Population (CBGP) research Unit. My main research interests are in evolutionary systematics and ecology of African small mammals, mainly rodents (taxonomy, phylogeny, phylogeography, community ecology, population biology, etc.). My main skills concern:

  1. sampling methods for small mammal inventories, community ecology and population surveys,
  2. integrative taxonomy combining morphological, molecular and chromosomal analyses.

Beside long-term studies in (mainly African) rodent systematics, phylogeny and phylogeography, I have been involved in various projects including, recently, a MEDD-Ecofor project on fault and gallery forest biodiversity in southern Mali, and a FRB-IRD project on invasive rodents in Senegal. The latter included an important section devoted to information dissemination and training of local stakeholders based on the scientific knowledge gathered – an output that I am increasingly involved with and interested in. I have co-authored over 100 scientific papers as well as a book on the rodents of the Sahelo-Sudanian region, and co-edited another one of proceedings of the 1991 edition of the African Small Mammal Conference in Paris. I am also an Associate Editor of the international journal of mammalogy Mammalia, and I have supervised a number of research internships for PhD, Masters and engineer diplomas in France, Mali and Senegal.

Vijaya Kumaran Jayaraj

I am a Research Fellow at the Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (GERIC-UMK) and I also teach wildlife ecology and evolution related subjects at the Faculty of Earth Science, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK). My research interest revolves around diversity, evolution, taxonomy and conservation of small mammals in Southeast Asia and I have been focusing my work on small mammals at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.  Currently I have 4 research and conservation projects running concurrently at Merapoh, Pahang. Merapoh, Pahang is one of the 3 gateways to the Taman Negara National Park, and I work together with NGOs, government agencies and local communities for conservation of mammals in this important protected area.

John Koprowski

I am a Professor of Wildlife Conservation at the University of Arizona (USA) where I have been a faculty member since 2000.  My research focuses on terrestrial vertebrate conservation with a special emphasis on population and behavioural ecology, with projects occurring in Africa, East and South Asia, South America and North America.  Many of my efforts are focused on mammals, with a special expertise in members of the family Sciuridae (Rodentia), commonly known as the squirrels, chipmunks, prairie dogs and marmots.

Alexis Mychajliw

I am an assistant professor of biology and environmental studies at Middlebury College (Vermont, USA), as well as a research associate at both the La Brea Tar Pits Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. My lab – the HEDGE lab (Holocene ecology, diversity, and global extinctions) – conducts research at the intersection of conservation biology, paleontology, and ecology, with a strong emphasis on community engagement and science communication. I conducted my PhD research in the Dominican Republic with fossil and living mammals, including solenodons, and I continue to work in the Caribbean. In North America, I use archaeological and paleoecological sources to reconstruct ecological baselines of furbearing rodent species, such as muskrats and beavers, as they relate to present day management scenarios.

Violaine Nicolas-Colin

I am a curator and researcher at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle (Paris, France) since 2004. My main research interests are in evolutionary biology and systematics of African small mammals, mainly rodents and eulipotyphla (shrews, moles, and hedgehogs). My main skills concern: integrative taxonomy combining morphological and molecular analyses phylogeography and biogeography evolutionary biology and processes of speciation (when and how species diversified?). In the past I have mostly worked in Tropical Africa, but more recently I have collaborated on projects in North Africa, Europe, and Iran.

Chris Pavey

I work as a Senior Scientist in the Land and Water unit of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). I am currently based in the tropical city of Darwin. Prior to this, I was Director of the Threatened Species portfolio for the Northern Territory government, based in Alice Springs. I have been carrying out threatened species conservation for over 25 years, most of it spent in arid Australia with stints in Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and tropical Queensland. I was a Humboldt Foundation Research Fellow at the University of Munich, Germany, for two years. I have co-authored six adopted national recovery plans in Australia, covering 14 species of animals and plants. In addition, I chaired the national Mala (Rufous Hare-wallaby) recovery team for 10 years. My current focus within small mammal conservation is on developing approaches for off-reserve management and protection of threatened, arid zone taxa that undergo dramatic boom-bust dynamics, and thus are difficult to monitor over time. These species include the Plains Mouse, Long-haired Rat, Crest-tailed Mulgara and Kultarr. Important aspects of this work involve assessing the role of drought refuges in small mammal ecology and in reducing the impact of introduced predators on small mammals. More broadly, my research interests include species responses to dynamic environments, predator-prey interactions, and movement ecology.

Marcial Quiroga-Carmona

I am a Venezuelan biologist interested in the biogeography, systematics and taxonomy of the Neotropical fauna. My interest centres on Neotropical mammals, mainly those distributed throughout the Andes or other highlands of South America. My bachelor thesis was focused on a taxonomical review of shrews of the Cryptotis genus from Venezuela, and with this work four new species were described. Currently, I am doing my doctorate in the Austral University of Chile. For my doctoral project I hope to develop research on different aspects of the evolutionary biology of the southern mammals of America, to understand their natural history in the continent and contribute to their conservation.

Carlos Henrique Salvador

I have been a Biologist since 2003 and gained my PhD in Ecology in 2012. My interest focusses on Population Ecology, Conservation Biology and Wildlife Management. I have studied the mammals on coastal islands of Santa Catarina (Brazil) and developed a project for the conservation of Santa Catarina´s guinea pig (Cavia intermedia) for six years. Afterwards I began to study the invasion of wild boar (Sus scrofa) in South America and implemented efforts to control and mitigate the human conflict with this species in Southern Brazil. As a team member of Refauna Project (LECP/UFRJ) and Caipora Cooperative for Nature Conservation, nowadays my mission involves mammalian species reintroductions and recovery of lost populations of tapir and peccaries in Atlantic Forest, especially in the ecosystem of Araucaria Forest.

Georgy Shenbrot

My work and research interests relate to three main areas:

  1. Taxonomy and phylogeny of jerboas (Dipodidae).
  2. Population and community ecology of desert rodents.
  3. Creation of distributional databases, species distribution modelling and analysis of relations between geographic range and ecological niche parameters.

My publications include 3 books, 25 book chapters and 168 articles in scientific journals.

Don Wilson

I am interested in mammalian evolution and classification in general, spurred primarily by two decades of shepherding “Mammal Species of the World” through two editions. A career-long fascination with bats continues unabated, and a smattering of my research time is devoted to various aspects of chiropteran biology. My current major project involves the production of a nine-volume treatise entitled “Handbook of Mammals of the World.” The first volume, covering Carnivores, was published by Lynx Edicions in 2009. The seventh volume, on Rodents, appeared in 2018. I also retain an interest in the mammals of North America, which began with “The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals,” and continued through two editions of the Princeton Field Guide to North American Mammals. Using text and photos from those two publications, we spun off a website devoted to North American Mammals and there is now an I-phone application as well.

Nuri Yiğit

I have been working as researcher at Ankara University Biology Department since 1987, with my current title as professor in the zoology section. My main research scope is on mammalian biology (systematics, population genetics, ecology). Although my papers are mostly on rodents, I have also produced papers on chiroptera, carnivores and ornithology. The biggest collection of mammalian samples of the Middle East was established by myself and my colleagues, under the name of Ankara University Mammalian Research Collection. The “AUMAC” currently comprises more than 7000 specimens. I also served as the Turkish head of an international joint research project with Prof. Dr. Rolf Gatterman (Martin Luther University, Germany), Prof. Dr. Georgi Markov (Bulgarian Academy of Science), Prof. Dr. Boris Krystufek (Slovenian Museum Natural History) and Prof. Dr. Robert E. Johnston (Cornell University, USA).

Luis Darcy Verde Arregoitia

I am an ecologist focused on large-scale spatial patterns in biodiversity and the influence of morphology on ecological processes. My current research project examines ecomorphological evolution in Neotropical rodents. I have experience and interest in Mexican small mammals, and particularly in arboreal neotomines. For my conservation-oriented work, I use phylogenetic comparative methods, and I have worked towards promoting the adequate use of IUCN Red List categories as response variables in statistical analyses.

Peter Zahler

I am Vice President for Conservation Initiatives at the Woodland Park Zoo after 23 years at the Wildlife Conservation Society. I helped design and lead programs in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Mongolia, and helped start a conservation program in Arctic Beringia. I have also supervised conservation programs and projects in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Malaysia, China (including Tibet), the Russian Far East, four of the five Central Asian states, and Iran, and support programs in Tanzania, DRC, Borneo, India, and Peru. I have sat on two graduate scholarship programs for developing nation conservationists that have helped over 200 young conservation leaders advance their careers. I ‘rediscovered’ the woolly flying squirrel in Pakistan and have performed small mammal studies over the years in Arizona, Alaska, and Peru. And I absolutely believe that Mammals of Africa Volume III (Rodent, Hares and Rabbits) and The Rodents of Libya are essential bedtime reading.