Conservation Awards



  • J. A. Esselstyn
  • K. Everson
  • J. R. Goheen
  • J. González-Maya
  • S. Grassel
  • K. M. Helgen
  • T. Jung
  • N. Ordoñez-Garza
  • S. Wisely

History and Mission

In 2002, the American Society of Mammalogists established 2 new conservation awards to recognize outstanding contributions to the conservation of mammals and their habitats.

Aldo Leopold Award

The first award, the Aldo Leopold Award, is awarded to a well-established individual who has made a lasting contribution to the conservation of mammals and their habitats. We are proud to honor the memory of former ASM member Aldo Leopold with the senior award. Not only did Aldo Leopold have a significant and lasting influence in wildlife conservation and management, but he also had a great interest in mammals. He was an active member of ASM and a member of the Conservation of Land Mammals Committee (4 years) in the 1930s and during this time worked to defend wolves in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes states and grizzly bears in New Mexico. Leopold is well known for his famous land ethic philosophy, and is considered to be the “father” of wildlife ecology and management. His son, A. Starker Leopold, served as Chair of the Conservation of Land Mammals Committee in the 1950s. Students of both generations of Leopolds have had a profound impact on the field of mammalogy. In 2003, the inaugural Aldo Leopold Award recipient was E. O. Wilson of Harvard University for his valuable contributions to mammalian conservation through his development and promotion of the concepts of biodiversity.

William T. Hornaday Award

The second award, the William T. Hornaday Award, is awarded to a current undergraduate or graduate student who has made a significant contribution as a student to the conservation of mammals and their habitats. This award was not given in 2003. Nominations were considered for the first time in 2004. Hornaday was a pioneer in wildlife conservation and the “architect” of 2 of the most renowned zoological parks in the United States, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and the New York Zoological Park in Bronx, New York. Hornaday was responsible for a number of early wildlife protection laws in the US, was instrumental in saving the northern fur seal from extinction, and authored 15 books and numerous articles about wildlife and the need for conservation. The fate of the American bison seemed to stir Hornaday most deeply, perhaps because he had himself witnessed the systematic slaughter of this species in the west. His 1889 book entitled “The extermination of the American bison” established him as a prominent defender of these animals, and in the early 1900s, he founded the National Bison Society and promoted the establishment of the Wichita, Kansas and Montana Bison Ranges.

2016 Aldo Leopold Award Recipient

The Aldo Leopold Award is awarded to a well-established individual who has made a lasting contribution to the conservation of mammals and their habitats. Aldo Leopold, the “father” of wildlife ecology and management, is well known for his famous land ethic philosophy and his influence on wildlife conservation, including his active membership on ASM Conservation Committees in the 1930s.

The reciepient of the 2016 Aldo Leopold Award is Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet, Professor of Biology, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada. Dr. Festa-Bianchet has focused on understanding how ecological change and selective pressures may affect the population biology and reproductive strategies of mammals. He and his more than 40 graduate students have used critical tests of ecological and evolutionary theory as a basis for pressing conservation and management issues in Canada, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. Much of his work has emphasized the importance of individual responses of wildlife, especially ungulates, through long-term monitoring of marked individuals. Dr. Festa-Bianchet’s studies of the evolutionary impact of trophy hunting are well known and have demonstrated how hunters can affect morphology and life history and ultimately may be detrimental to local populations. His highly influential contributions have caused wildlife managers to re-examine the potential ecological and evolutionary impacts of harvest management strategies.

Dr. Festa-Bianchet’s efforts to translate research into conservation policy have been critical in Canada and globally. In Canada, he was elected Chair of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada for two terms (2002-2006) and co-Chair Terrestrial Mammals Species Subcommittee. While leading these committees, Dr. Festa-Bianchet carefully assembled expertise on threatened species and then guided his committee’s efforts to develop thoughtful and effective conservation plans for Canada’s terrestrial mammals throughout the first decade of the 21st Century. For more than 15 years, he also has served as Chair of the IUCN\SSC Caprinae Specialist Group and he is on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the World Wildlife Fund. His many students have moved into prominent roles in academia, government, and private industry, where they continue to contribute to the conservation of mammalian biodiversity. In total, Dr. Festa-Bianchet’s research, mentoring, and public service activities over the past three decades have significantly impacted the conservation of mammals (and other organisms). 

2016 William T. Hornaday Award

The American Society of Mammalogists Conservation Awards Committee selected Héctor Ramirez-Chaves for the 2016 William T. Hornaday Award from the American Society of Mammalogists. Héctor is now a doctoral student at the University of Queensland in Australia and he has already made a strong impact on mammalian conservation in his homeland in northern South America and more recently with his fieldwork in Central Asia. Héctor has authored over 45 peer-reviewed papers (and many more technical reports), three books and four book chapters on various aspects of mammalogy. His published works include studies in conservation biology, natural history, and distribution studies of rodents, bats, shrews, anteaters, and especially small carnivores. He has also produced synthetic investigations of patterns of species richness and endemism in Neotropical mammals.

Some of his work has also focused on large-scale assessments of the conservation status and distribution of Colombian mammals. In 2015, he was awarded the Adriana Espinosa Award of the Colombian Mammal Society for his outstanding contributions to South American mammals. Héctor’s references all spoke to his commitment to conservation-focused studies and his efforts to encourage numerous undergraduate Colombians to study mammals and contribute to the conservation of their habitats. 

Streaming Presentations 

ASM Members can log into the Business Office site and stream presentations from past winners!

The Aldo Leopold Award is awarded to a well-established individual who has made a lasting contribution to the conservation of mammals and their habitats.

The William T. Hornaday Award is awarded to a current undergraduate or graduate student who has made a significant contribution as a student to the conservation of mammals and their habitats.

The recipient of each award will have contributed substantially to (1) the conservation of 1 or more mammalian species, subspecies, or populations, (2) the conservation of mammalian assemblages and communities, and/or (3) advancing the field of conservation biology through focal research on mammals. We interpret “contribution” broadly to include (1) scientific research or political activism that has resulted in the preservation of an imperiled species; (2) development of protective management recommendations; (3) acquisition of new knowledge regarding the conservation status or causes for decline of mammalian species or populations; (4) the protection of significant mammalian habitat; or (5) promotion of the conservation of mammals through public education.

All persons are invited to submit nominations for these awards. For each award, the nomination packet should include:
  1. A brief (2 pages maximum) narrative that introduces and describes the conservation activities of the nominee;
  2. A list of relevant journal articles, government and NGO reports, newspaper clippings, and other materials that chronicle and corroborate the conservation-related activities of the nominee;
  3. Contact information for the nominator and nominee;
  4. Supporting material as follows:

Aldo Leopold Award -- A complete nomination packet (nominating letter, curriculum vita, 3 pieces of corroborative literature that most succinctly and directly describe the nominee’s contributions to mammalian conservation, and up to 4 additional letters of support) should be submitted (as a single PDF file) to Joseph Cook ( by 1 March.

William T. Hornaday Award -- Letters of recommendation from 2 individuals familiar with the nominee’s conservation activities. One of these letters must be from the student’s research advisor and confirms that the nominees status as a student. Completed nomination packets (as a single PDF file) should be sent to Joseph Cook ( Deadline for submission of completed nominations is 1 March. The recipient will be announced at the annual meeting of the Society.  Nominations are not retained from previous years.  Please send any questions about the award or the nomination to Joseph Cook.


for outstanding contributions to the conservation of mammals and mammalian biodiversity

  • 2003—Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University
  • 2004—Russell A. Mittermeier, Conservation International, Washington, DC
  • 2005—George B. Schaller, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY
  • 2007—Rodrigo A. Medellín, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México,Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, México
  • 2008—Virgilio G. Roig, Jardín Zoológico de Mendoza, Mendoza, Argentina
  • 2009—Helene Marsh, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
  • 2010—Herbert Prins, Chair of Resource Ecology, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
  • 2011—Rubén Bárquez, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET of Argentina)
  • 2012—Dean Biggins, US Geological Service, Fort Collins, CO
  • 2013—Joel Berger, University of Montana
  • 2014—Lawrence R. HeaneyField Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL
  • 2015—Andrew T. SmithArizona State University, Tempe AZ
  • 2016—Marco Festa-Bianchet, Université de Sherbrooke, Québec


presented to a student/young professional who has made a significant contribution as a student to the conservation of mammals and their habitats.

  • 2004—Brent Sewall, University of California-Davis
  • 2005—Isabel Beasley, James Cook University, Queensland, Austrailia
  • 2008—Angelia S. M. Vanderlaan, Oceanography Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 2009—Gerrit Jan Schipper III, Director of IUCN-SSC/CI-CABS Global Mammal Assessment
  • 2011—Enzo Aliaga-Rosel (University of Hawai`i at Manoa)
  • 2013—Abdullahi Hussein Ali, Univeristy of Wyoming (Ph.D. student)
  • 2014—Erin BaerwaldUniversity of Calgary (Ph.D. student)
  • 2015—José F. González-MayaInstituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Ph.D. student)
  • 2016—Héctor Ramirez-Chaves, University of Queensland, Australia (Ph.D. student)