Science and conservation for the world’s 2800 small mammal species


Currently we have around 120 members but will grow over the next two years to ensure we have sufficient expertise to cover this huge group of mammals. But we are also determined that the SMSG has a broad member-base that represents the many regions of the world. We are currently recruiting 10 Regional Chairs (see Structure for the regions) to lead recruitment of members and develop networks in their particular regions.  We are also recruiting conservation-minded professionals to act as coordinators for our SMSG’s Key Species, Key Sites and Key Regions so we can rapidly drive forwards our knowledge of and action on these conservation priorities. To find out more about the people leading the development of the SMSG, please see the member profiles below.


 Dr Richard Young, Co-Chair

RYoung_Hispaniolan solenodonAs Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Small Mammal Specialist Group,  I work alongside Tom Lacher to lead the development of the group’s strategy, membership and operations, but focus particularly on the promotion of conservation science and action for the most threatened small mammals. My day job is Head of Conservation Science at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in the UK, where I lead research for the Trust’s conservation programmes in Madagascar, Mauritius, Caribbean, and Pacific. We conserve a range of endangered mammal, bird, amphibian and reptile species and their habitats. My main research interests are in the dynamics, monitoring and conservation of threatened species populations. I first started studying small mammals in earnest during my PhD, when I investigated the predator-prey relationship between European badgers and hedgehogs.  Since then, I have led ecological field research on the status and conservation of small mammals in the Caribbean and Madagascar.



Dr Thomas E. Lacher Jr, Co-Chair

LacherDr. Thomas E. Lacher, Jr., is currently Full Professor in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University. He received his PhD in Biological Sciences, Section of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, from the University of Pittsburgh in 1980. He has held positions at the University of Brasilia, Brazil; Western Washington University; Clemson University, where he was the executive director of the research consortium of the Archbold Tropical Research Center, and Texas A&M University, where he was Professor and Caesar Kleberg Chair in Wildlife Ecology in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. From 2002 to 2007 he was at Conservation International, where he was Senior Vice-President and Executive Director of the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science. Dr. Lacher has been working in the Neotropics for 37 years, with experience in Dominica, Costa Rica, Panama, Guyana, Suriname, Peru, and Brazil. He has also served on numerous review panels for NSF and EPA and was member and chair of the Area Advisory Committee for Latin America for the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (Fulbright Commission). He has been major advisor of 14 MS and 14 Ph.D. students and several postdoctoral fellows. His current research is focused on the assessment of conservation status in mammals and the analysis and monitoring of large-scale patterns and trends in mammalian biodiversity, primarily in the tropics.


Dr Ros Kennerley, Programme Officer for the SMSG


I am the Programme Officer for the IUCN SSC Small Mammal Specialist Group based at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust’s Conservation Science Hub in Bath, UK. The position involves the coordination of Red List assessments and the support of development of the SMSG membership and its communication capabilities.
I am passionate about conserving highly threatened species, with all of the challenges but also the enormous rewards that go with this type of work. The majority of my previous experience has been carrying out research and contributing to major conservation programmes for rare mammal and bird species both in the UK and overseas. My PhD research at the University of Reading examined the ecology of Hispaniolan Solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) and Hutia (Plagiodontia aedium) in native forest and agricultural systems in the Dominican Republic, and to do this I employed a variety of monitoring techniques including GPS, radio telemetry and camera traps. From this experience I became the Caribbean Coordinator for the SMSG and in this role I am keen to expand the research, training and the network of small mammal conservationists operating in the region.


Dr Sam Turvey, Conservation Coordinator

sam solenodon picI am a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London (ZSL), with a primary interest in understanding mammal extinction dynamics and developing conservation programmes for a wide range of threatened mammal species. I have been heavily involved with the development of ZSL’s EDGE of Existence conservation programme, which aims to prioritise species for conservation attention on the basis of both threat and unique evolutionary history. Through my involvement with the EDGE programme, I have conducted considerable research and conservation programme development on the threatened small mammal faunas of the insular Caribbean, focusing on the Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) and Hispaniolan hutia (Plagiodontia aedium). I have conducted fieldwork in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, to assess the distribution and threat status of both species, and have also conducted palaeontological field research into the Quaternary history of Hispaniola and other Caribbean islands in order to reconstruct past human impacts and extinction chronologies for the unique Caribbean land mammal fauna.


Dr Nate Upham, Taxonomic Advisor

I am a current Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University and Research Associate at the Field Museum of Natural History, after receiving my PhD in 2014 from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Evolutionary Biology. In my research, I use clades of wild mammals (mostly rodents) to investigate the ecological drivers of major evolutionary processes of species birth, death, and adaptation. My work stems from an intersection among fields of phylogenomics, paleontology, historical biogeography, and bioinformatics. There I integrate data from DNA sequences, fossils, and species ecological traits to test hypotheses of how past changes in species-environment interactions have shaped evolutionary rates through time. In every study, I seek to build theoretical understanding of evolution for practical questions of biodiversity conservation and harmonization between society and nature, key challenges to which I am drawn.



Dr Giovanni Amori

Giovanni Amori is Senior Researcher of CNR (Italian National Research Council). He was previously Chair of the IUCN SSC “Rodent Specialist Group” (1994-2006) and from 2006-2011 the Red List Authority of Small Non-Volant Mammals. He has been President of Nature Conservation Commission of CNR (1994-2000), President of the Italian Mammal Society (1996-1998) and member of the Italian Scientific Authority of CITES  (2000-2006 and 2010-2012). The main research interest of Dr Amori concerns the conservation of small mammals, with special emphasis on genetics (phylogeny, genetic variability), ecology (population dynamics, habitat fragmentation, competition), biogeography (identification of priority conservation areas throughout mapping distribution ranges). Dr Amori is one of the editors of the book “Atlas of European Mammals” (Academic Press, London, 1999). He has published over 120 main papers mainly in International Journals and attended more than 60 international and national congresses where he has presented more than 150, both posters and oral communications.


Nikki Roach

I am pursuing my PhD in Dr. Thomas Lacher’s lab in the department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and the Applied Biodiversity Science program at Texas A&M University. My research focuses on conservation planning, specifically how land use and climate change impact threatened species. I am currently examining vulnerability of threatened amphibian and small mammal species in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. I am the New World Species Red Listing project coordinator for the IUCN SSC Small Mammal Specialist Group (SMSG). We are in the process of re-assessing the global conservation status of small mammals across the America’s. I am also an Associate Conservation Scientist for Global Wildlife Conservation based out of Austin, TX. I received my MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Clemson University (2015), where I was advised by Dr. Kyle Barrett. My thesis focused on vulnerability assessments of marsh birds to sea level rise along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. I also have a strong interest in science communication, videography, and outreach. Keep up with my adventures on twitter: @niksroach #CocoFrogs


Fran Fitzpatrick, Conservation Science Intern

I am a early-career conservation biologist and a graduate of the 2017 Durrell Endangered Species Management graduate programme, with a strong interest in sustainability and holistic conservation, particularly in developing solutions to address the root-causes of threats to biodiversity and endangered species. My MSc research at the University of Sheffield focussed on the British willow tit (Poecile montanus kleinschmidti) but the majority of my additional fieldwork experiences have involved mammalian research and conservation. Through this internship with the SMSG team I aim to gain insight into what it takes to galvanise and guide global conservation initiatives. Specifically, I hope to gain experience and understanding of planning and developing conservation programmes, projects and networks of international, regional and local conservation professionals. In the near future I hope to find employment or a doctoral study opportunity involving African biodiversity conservation. I am particularly interested in human-wildlife coexistence issues and the development of conservation solutions involving multi-use landscapes, in which humans and predators live with minimal conflict and the balance and diversity of local wild systems are conserved.


 Shelby McCay

I am currently one of the New World Program Coordinators for the IUCN SSC Small Mammal Specialist Group and a certified IUCN Red List Trainer based at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. I earned my B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences in May 2015 from Texas A&M and am currently pursuing a Master of Natural Resource Development in the Biodiversity Assessment & Monitoring Lab under Dr. Tom Lacher. Broadly, I am interested in conservation biology, threatened and endangered species, and natural resource policy. My true passion lies in conserving and educating the public about small mammals and other uncharismatic species. My master’s work focuses on how IUCN Red List data is used in the development and implementation of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and how National Red Lists assist in conservation planning and actions in New World countries. Once I receive my M.S. I hope to gain employment as a conservation biologist with either a state agency or NGO.