Russell Mittermeier, renowned wildlife biologist and president of Conservation International, has been selected to receive the 12th annual Roger Tory Peterson Medal presented by the Harvard Museum of Natural History (HMNH). Mittermeier will deliver the Roger Tory Peterson Memorial Lecture on April 5.
Renowned for his work in developing criteria for biodiversity “hotspots” as a conservation priority, Mittermeier is considered an expert on such topics as biological diversity and its value to humanity, ecosystem conservation, tropical biology, and species conservation. In his lecture titled “Conserving the World’s Biodiversity: How the Climate Crisis Could Both Hurt and Help,” Mittermeier will discuss the major extinction crisis facing the planet, as well as the management and conservation strategies that give him hope for the future.
In addition to his work at Conservation International, Mittermeier has served as chairman of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Species Survival Commission’s Primate Specialist Group since 1977, and as the chairman of the World Bank’s Task Force of Biological Diversity in 1988 and 1989. Prior to coming to Conservation International, he was vice president for science at the World Wildlife Fund.
Mittermeier has conducted fieldwork for more than 30 years on three continents and in more than 20 countries, primarily in the tropics of Brazil, Suriname, and Madagascar. His fieldwork has focused on primates, protected areas, and other conservation issues. He has formally discovered several monkey species, and was honored for his work in Madagascar in 2006 with the naming of a newly discovered species of mouse lemur. He has authored over 225 papers and eight books, including “Lemurs of Madagascar,” a comprehensive field guide to Madagascar’s flagship species. Mittermeier received his B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1971 and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in biological anthropology in 1977.
HMNH inaugurated the memorial lecture in 1997 to keep alive the memory of the pioneering naturalist and author of the legendary “Peterson Field Guide to Birds.” This annual event celebrates and perpetuates Peterson’s tireless efforts to conserve the planet’s biological diversity. Past recipients of the medal have included E.O. Wilson, Jared M. Diamond, Paul R. Ehrlich, Bruce Babbitt, Richard Leakey, Peter Matthiessen, David Attenborough, Roger Bateman, David Suzuki, Jane Goodall, and Jeremy Jackson.