Conservation Science

Since our founding as the New York Zoological Society in 1895, science has been at the core of the institution's mission. The practice of science at WCS focuses on the study, understanding, and conservation of the natural world. Early in the 20th century, WCS established science programs in both field biology and wildlife health sciences, and the respect for scientific investigation and the scientific method remains a vital and vibrant part of our identity.

The Role of Science at WCS

WCS uses science to discover and understand the natural world. This knowledge helps us engage and inspire decision-makers, communities, and millions of supporters to take action with us to protect the wildlife and wild places we all care about.

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Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Our Goal

The science-based knowledge we create will be used by conservation practitioners to strengthen conservation practice, inform and reform conservation policy, and permit ourselves and others to credibly evaluate our impact

How Will We Get There?

  • We will use our extensive field data and global data sets to perform global analyses of, and provide scientific input into, conservation priorities that engage international and national policy.
  • We will identify regional and global scale conservation threats that WCS initiatives can inform and influence, and perform analyses to impact regional or global perspectives, policies, and actions.
  • We will build our scientific capacity to influence and support landscape and site level policy and management.
  • We will investigate, test, and share new technologies and innovations that can improve our science and data collection.
  • We will support our field and zoo-based staff in analyzing, publishing and disseminating our scientific information, both in terms of increasing scientific publications and improving input into policy initiatives.
  • We find, train and mentor the next generation of conservation scientists.
  • We will grow new global partnerships for data management, data analysis, and the development of new science tools and techniques.
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Photo Credit: ©Ullas Karanth/WCS

Why WCS?

200+ peer-review journal publications per year

In the last 100 years, WCS has helped nations and indigenous people to establish and manage 245 parks and reserves protecting nature, securing local economies, and strengthening cultural identities. WCS scientists lead the way in field research, analysis, and peer-review publications of their discoveries in high-level scientific journals. With over 3,000 citations a year, WCS science publications are a foundation for conservation science around the world.

1.3 mil+ camera trap photos

As just one tool in the WCS science ‘toolbox’, WCS scientific analysis of camera trap photos from hundreds of sites around the world – from the Russian Far East to Argentina, from Congo to Fiji – have discovered new species, expanded ranges, provided first-ever population estimates, led to new behavioral discoveries, and even helped capture poachers and illegal wildlife traders.

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