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Joel Berger

Moose olfaction experiments

Moose olfaction experiments with Berger

A WCS Senior Conservation Scientist, Dr. Joel Berger conducts research across five continents while also working in his own backyard to train local scientists and students. From the impacts of energy development on Yellowstone’s pronghorn to wild yak surveys on the Tibetan Plateau, Berger’s research spans human-wildlife interactions, long-distance migrations, and climate change. He has written four books on wild horses, rhinos, bison, and fear in prey species, and co-edited a volume on large carnivores and biodiversity.

Currently, Dr. Berger focuses on the conservation of species and intact ecosystems. Research highlights include: 
  • Long-distance migration by mammals and conservation of migration corridors
  • Effects of predator reintroduction on the ecology of prey species and the structure of vertebrate communities
  • Pronghorn in Migration

    Pronghorn in migration

  • Impacts of climate change in the Arctic to muskoxen
  • Conservation of large mammals in Bhutan, Tibet, and Mongolia. 
By engaging with local communities dependent on the land—from elders in coastal Arctic villages to wildlife managers on the Tibetan Plateau—he aims to promote sustainable use of natural resources that take into effect the needs of both people and wildlife.

Along with his position at WCS, Dr. Berger holds the John J. Craighead Chair of Wildlife Conservation at the University of Montana. In 2013, he received the Aldo Leopold Award from the American Society of Mammologists; in 2009, he was honored with the LaRoe Memorial Conservation Award from the Society for Conservation Biology. He has been selected as a fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Sciences and twice received the Rolex Foundation's Meritorious Project Award.
Lishu with telemetry

Graduate student Lishu Li tracking ibex in the Gobi Desert


Dr. Berger’s efforts continue to inspire the next generation of scientists and citizen supporters of conservation. Along with mentoring graduate and post-graduate students, Dr. Berger has communicated the importance of conservation to the public through the media, and his work continues to influence public policy. 

Dr. Berger was raised in Los Angeles, received his PhD from the University of Colorado, and served as a Smithsonian Research Associate in Animal Ecology for more than 15 years. 

News for Dr. Joel Berger

Russian-American Collaboration Carries on in Key Arctic Ecosystem
April 30,2014
Joel Berger checks in from his work on Wrangel Island where he is studying Muskoxen with Russian colleagues. 

Studying muskoxen off of Siberia
April 10,2014
Dr. Joel Berger, Senior Scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s North America Program and John J. Craighead Chair in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana, is on a seven-plus week expedition to Wrangel Island.

Joel Berger Named Finalist for 2014 Indianapolis Prize
January 30, 2014
Every two years, the Indianapolis Prize is awarded to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to conservation. This year, WCS's Joel Berger is one of six finalists for the award.

Protecting Wildlife on the Go
January 23, 2014
Although national parks provide much-needed safe havens for wildlife, they’re not enough for the migratory species that travel in and out of their borders. To compensate, conservationists are now paying closer attention to protecting migratory paths.

The Rougher Side of Cashmere
July 24, 2013
A new study by WCS reveals that the proliferation of the cashmere garment industry poses dangers to wildlife, including snow leopards, wild yak, Tibetan antelope, gazelles, and kiang.

Dr. Joel Berger Receives Aldo Leopold Award
July 8, 2013
Bestowed by the American Society of Mammologists, the prestigious award recognizes outstanding lasting contributions made by an individual to the conservation of mammals and their habitats.

Tibetan Yaks Make a Comeback
January 16, 2013
Once decimated by hunting, wild yaks appear to be rebounding in parts of Tibet. During a recent expedition to the country’s Qinghai Plateau, WCS and Chinese conservationists counted nearly 1,000 individuals.

Wyoming’s Safe Passages Protect People and Pronghorn
October 15, 2012
WCS celebrates newly minted highway crossing structures that help keep Wyoming’s roads safe for drivers and ensure a healthy future for migrating pronghorn and other wildlife.

For Juvenile Moose, Momma’s Boys and Girls Fare Best
August 24, 2012
Size often matters in the animal kingdom, with larger animals faring better than their compact counterparts. But a recent WCS study suggests that for a juvenile moose, mother’s presence—not body mass—is key to survival.

As Natural Gas Fields Grow, Pronghorn Habitat Shrinks
May 3, 2012
A five-year behavioral study shows that pronghorn in Wyomingare losing their wintering grounds to large-scale industrialization.

Arctic Alaska’s Conservation Conundrum
February 2, 2012
WCS senior scientist Joel Berger reflects on how Alaska’s recent decision to cull an Arctic predator in order to protect its prey may redefine the ecosystem’s hierarchy in unforeseen ways.

Apex Predators: A Scary Loss
July 20, 2011
In a recent study, WCS conservationist Joel Berger concludes that the loss of large predators in the wild may be humankind’s most pervasive influence on nature.

WCS Takes Gold in Beijing
August 7, 2009
Three WCS scientists were honored during the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, in Beijing, China, held in July.

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