Russell Mittermeier

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Russell Alan Mittermeier
Russell Mittermeier.jpg
Born (1949-11-08) November 8, 1949 (age 72)
Nationality American
Alma mater Dartmouth College
Known forBiological Diversity and Ecosystem Conservation
Scientific career
Fields Anthropology
InstitutionsGlobal Wildlife Conservation

Russell Alan Mittermeier (born November 8, 1949) is a primatologist and herpetologist. He has written several books for both popular and scientist audiences, and has authored more than 300 scientific papers.



Russell A. Mittermeier is Chief Conservation Officer of Global Wildlife Conservation. He served as President of Conservation International from 1989 to 2014, then Executive Vice-Chair from 2014 to 2017. He specialises in the fields of primatology, herpetology, biodiversity and conservation of tropical forests. He has undertaken research in more than 30 countries, including Amazonia (particularly Brazil and Suriname) and Madagascar. [1]

Since 1977, Mittermeier has served as Chairman of the IUCN-World Conservation Union Species Survival Commission Primate Specialist Group, and he has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Species Survival Commission since 1982. Before working for Conservation International, he spent 11 years at the World Wildlife Fund in the United States, starting as Director of their Primate Program and ending up as Vice-President for Science. He also served as an IUCN-World Conservation Union Regional Councillor for the period 2004–2012, was elected as one of IUCN-World Conservation Union's four Vice-Presidents for the period 2009–2012, and then was elected a lifetime Honorary IUCN-World Conservation Union Member in 2012. He also chaired the first World Bank Task Force on Biodiversity in 1988, which was instrumental in introducing the term "biodiversity" to that institution.

He became an Adjunct Professor at the Stony Brook University in 1978, a Research Associate at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University for more than two decades, and has been President of the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation since 1996. More recently, he was instrumental in the creation of the 25 million Euro Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, a new species-focused fund based in Abu Dhabi, and serves as a member of its Advisory Committee.

In the late 1970s, Mittermeier undertook one of the first studies of the critically endangered northern muriqui woolly spider monkeys in what would become the Caratinga Biological Station. [2] Mittermeier has been particularly interested in the discovery and description of species new to science. He has described a total of 14 new species (three turtles, four lemurs, an African monkey, and six Amazonian monkeys) and has eight species named in his honor (three frogs, a lizard, two lemurs, a monkey, and an ant). The most recent (2014) of these is Mittermeier's saki, Pithecia mittermeieri , a monkey from the Brazilian Amazon. The lizard, Anolis williamsmittermeierorum , is named in honor of Mittermeier and American herpetologist Ernest E. Williams. [3]

Mittermeier has also been a leader in promoting species-focused ecotourism, particularly primate-watching and primate life-listing, and more recently turtle-watching and turtle life-listing, following the very successful model of the bird-watching community. To facilitate this, he launched a Tropical Field Guide Series and a Pocket Guide Series focused heavily on primates, but including a number of other species groups as well. More recent publications include The Tropical Field Guide Series are Lemurs of Madagascar, Third Edition (2010) and Primates of West Africa (2011) with a French edition of the Lemurs of Madagascar released in 2014. His own primate life-list, now totaling more than 350 species, is among the largest in the world.

Mittermeier was born in New York City. He received his B.A.(summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Dartmouth college and Ph.D. from Harvard University in biological anthropology for a thesis entitled, "Distribution, Synecology, and Conservation of Suriname Monkeys" in 1977.

Awards and honors

Mittermeier's awards and honors include:

Selected bibliography

Russell Mittermeier's writing includes 36 books and more than 700 scientific and popular articles.[ citation needed ] Among his books are The Trilogy Megadiversity (1997), Hotspots (2000) and Wilderness Areas (2002), Wildlife Spectacles (2003), Hotspots Revisited (2004), Transboundary Conservation (2005), Lemurs of Madagascar (1994; 2006; 2010), Pantanal: South America's Wetland Jewel (2005), A Climate for Life (2008), The Wealth of Nature: Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Human Well-Being (2009), Freshwater: The Essence of Life (2010), Oceans: Heart of our Blue Planet (2011) and The Handbook of the Mammals of the World (Vol. 3 Primates) (2013).

Related Research Articles

Aye-aye Species of primate

The aye-aye is a long-fingered lemur, a strepsirrhine primate native to Madagascar with rodent-like teeth that perpetually grow and a special thin middle finger.

Lemur Primates endemic to the island of Madagascar

Lemurs are wet-nosed mammals of the superfamily Lemuroidea, divided into 8 families and consisting of 15 genera and around 100 existing species. They are endemic to the island of Madagascar. Most existing lemurs are small, have a pointed snout, large eyes, and a long tail. They chiefly live in trees and are active at night.

Muriqui Genus of New World monkeys

The muriquis, also known as woolly spider monkeys, are the monkeys of the genus Brachyteles. They are closely related to both the spider monkeys and the woolly monkeys. The two species are the southern and northern muriquis. They are the two largest species of New World monkeys, and the northern species is one of the most endangered of all the world's monkeys.

Red-bellied lemur Species of lemur

The red-bellied lemur is a medium-sized strepsirrhine primate with a luxuriant chestnut brown coat. This lemur is endemic to eastern Madagascan rainforests and is distinguished by patches of white skin below the eyes, giving rise to a "teardrop" effect, particularly conspicuous in the male.

Conservation International Nonprofit environmental organization

Conservation International (CI) is an American nonprofit environmental organization headquartered in Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia.

Wildlife of Madagascar

The composition of Madagascar's wildlife reflects the fact that the island has been isolated for about 88 million years. The prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana separated the Madagascar-Antarctica-India landmass from the Africa-South America landmass around 135 million years ago. Madagascar later split from India about 88 million years ago, allowing plants and animals on the island to evolve in relative isolation.

Common brown lemur Species of lemur

The common brown lemur is a species of lemur in the family Lemuridae. It is found in Madagascar and has been introduced to Mayotte.

Small-toothed sportive lemur Species of primate from Madagascar

The small-toothed sportive lemur, or small-toothed weasel lemur, is a primate species in the family Lepilemuridae that—like all extant lemurs—is endemic to Madagascar. The species lives in dense rainforest in southeastern Madagascar, and can be found in Ranomafana and Andringitra National Parks. Described in 1894, it was considered either a subspecies or taxonomic synonym of the weasel sportive lemur throughout most of the 20th century. Phylogenetic studies not only support its species status, but also suggest that it is the only eastern Malagasy sportive lemur that is more closely related to western than to other eastern species.

Silky sifaka A large lemur from Madagascar

The silky sifaka is a large lemur characterized by long, silky, white fur. It has a very restricted range in northeastern Madagascar, where it is known locally as the simpona. It is one of the rarest mammals on Earth. The silky sifaka is one of nine sifaka species, and one of four former subspecies of diademed sifaka (P. diadema). Studies in 2004 and 2007 compared external proportions, genetics, and craniodental anatomy supporting full species status, which has generally been accepted.

Gray-headed lemur Species of lemur

The gray-headed lemur, or gray-headed brown lemur, is a medium-sized primate, a cathemeral species of lemur in the family Lemuridae. Until a taxonomic revision in 2008, it was known as the white-collared brown lemur or white-collared lemur. It lives in south-eastern Madagascar. In 2005, satellite imagery estimates showed approximately 700 km2 (270 sq mi) of total remaining habitat within its geographic range. It is highly threatened by hunting and habitat loss, and was considered to be among the 25 most endangered primates in 2006–2008. It is currently listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to a highly restricted range, and has been named one of "The World's 25 Most Endangered Primates."

Arnholds mouse lemur Species of lemur

Arnhold's mouse lemur or the Montagne d'Ambre mouse lemur is a species of mouse lemur endemic to Madagascar. Its holotype was first collected on 27 November 2005, and was first described in 2008. According to genetic tests, it is genetically distinct from its closest sister taxa, the Sambirano mouse lemur.

<i>Lemurs of Madagascar</i> (book) 2010 reference work and field guide

Lemurs of Madagascar is a 2010 reference work and field guide for the lemurs of Madagascar, giving descriptions and biogeographic data for the known species. The primary contributor is Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International, and the cover art and illustrations were drawn by Stephen D. Nash. Currently in its third edition, the book provides details about all known lemur species, general information about lemurs and their history, and also helps travelers identify species they may encounter. Four related pocket field guides have also been released, containing color illustrations of each species, miniature range maps, and species checklists.

Taxonomy of lemurs Science of describing species and defining the evolutionary relationships between taxa of lemurs

Lemurs were first classified in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus, and the taxonomy remains controversial today, with approximately 70 to 100 species and subspecies recognized, depending on how the term "species" is defined. Having undergone their own independent evolution on Madagascar, lemurs have diversified to fill many ecological niches normally filled by other types of mammals. They include the smallest primates in the world, and once included some of the largest. Since the arrival of humans approximately 2,000 years ago, lemurs have become restricted to 10% of the island, or approximately 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 sq mi), and many face extinction. Concerns over lemur conservation have affected lemur taxonomy, since distinct species receive increased conservation attention compared to subspecies.

Mireya Mayor is an American anthropologist and wildlife correspondent for the National Geographic. On one of her expeditions in Madagascar, she discovered a new species of lemur, considered the world’s smallest primate. She has co-written several scientific papers on lemurs species. She has been referred to as the "female Indiana Jones." Her work has provided her with extensive field experience studying primates, tarantulas, and other wild animals.

Stephen David Nash is an English wildlife artist who primarily specialises on primates. He is currently based at the Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, USA, in the Department of Anatomical Sciences where he works as a visiting research associate.

Feliciano Miguel Abdala Private Natural Heritage Reserve

Feliciano Miguel Abdala Private Natural Heritage Reserve, formerly the Fazenda Montes Claros and then the Caratinga Biological Station, is a privately owned sustainable-use protected area in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. It contains an example of Atlantic Forest biome. The reserve is home to rare buffy-headed marmosets and to one of the last wild populations of northern muriqui woolly spider monkeys.

Jonah Ratsimbazafy is a Malagasy primatologist. In 2020, he was appointed President of the International Primatological Society.

<i>Primate Conservation</i> (journal) Academic journal

Primate Conservation is a journal published by the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Primate Specialist Group about the world's primates. First published as a mimeographed newsletter in 1981, the journal today publishes conservation research and papers on primate species, particularly status surveys and studies on distribution and ecology. Besides these regular papers, the journal has also been a significant place for primatologists to publish descriptions of new primate species in Primate Conservation.

Mittermeier's Tapajós saki is a disputed species of saki monkey, a type of New World monkey. It is endemic to west-central Brazil.


  1. Mittermeier, Russell A., & Cheney, Dorothy L. (1987), "Conservation of Primates and Their Habitats", in Smuts BB, Cheney DL, Seyfarth RM, Wrangham RW, Struhsaker TT (eds.), Primate Societies, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 477–490, ISBN   0-226-76715-9 {{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Ramiro Abdala Passos, History, Preserve Muriqui
  3. Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN   978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Williams-Mittermeier", p. 287).
  4. "American Society of Mammalogists honors CI president Russell Mittermeier with Aldo Leopold award". EurekAlert!. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  5. "Russ Mittermeier Awarded 2018 Indianapolis Prize for Conservation" . Retrieved 2018-06-12.