Conservation Awards



  • E. Baerwald
  • R. T. Bowyer
  • J. A. Esselstyn
  • K. Everson
  • J. R. Goheen
  • J. Gonzalez-Maya
  • S. Grassel
  • K. M. Helgen
  • T. Jung
  • N. Ordoñez-Garza
  • M. Tewes
  • 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.

2015 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 2015 Aldo Leopold Conservation Award from the American Society of Mammalogists is awarded to Dr. Andrew T. Smith who is perhaps best known for his promotion of the conservation of Lagomorphs and his detailed monographs and field guides focused on Asia's rich mammalian fauna. Our awardee’s leadership and impact in the conservation arena can be found on several fronts. He served on the China Council on International Cooperation in Environment and Development (CCICED) for more than 10 years and has been a leader in establishing international ties to Chinese mammalogists and other Asian biologists. He co-authored the first comprehensive Guide to the Mammals of China (Princeton University Press, 2008; Chinese version 2009) and also the Princeton Pocket Guide to the Mammals of China (2013), which together provide the primary reference works needed to conserve a heavily exploited fauna in Central Asia. He also has made numerous contributions (and won recognition) for his work with the IUCN. He has been a member of the Lagomorph Specialist Group of IUCN's Species Survival Commission since 1978 and served as the Chair of this commission since 1991, for which he received Citations of Excellence in 2004 and 2012. Dr. Smith initiated the work in May 1994 on the database (Species Information Service) that has led to the capture of all current Red List data. His strong advocacy for conservation of lagomorphs worldwide, but especially on the Tibetan Plateau, provide a wonderful model of what is possible when scientists apply their research skills, determination, and knowledge to help shape conservation policy.

Finally and notably, Dr. Smith’s pioneering efforts at Arizona State University (where he holds the distinguished title of President’s Professor) led to the development and implementation of one of the first formal Conservation Biology degrees nationwide, a feat that surely would have made Aldo very proud. In total, Dr. Smith’s research, mentoring, program building, and outreach activities over the past three decades have significantly impacted the conservation of mammals (and other organisms) in one of the most impacted regions of our planet.

2015 William T. Hornaday Award

The 2015 William T. Hornaday Award from the American Society of Mammalogists is José F. González-Maya, a doctoral candidate at Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México for this award. José is widely recognized for his extensive contributions to mammal conservation in northern Latin America through his efforts in educating students, building collaborations between NGOs and governmental agencies, and through international work with the IUCN. For those contributions to Neotropical mammal conservation, he was just awarded the Future for Nature Award. Although still a doctoral student, he has been active as an advisor (>30 undergraduate and graduate theses), instructor (8 conservation courses), and organizer, helping to build and mentor an enthusiastic group of young mammalian conservation biologists in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Colombia. He has developed monitoring plans for protected areas (e.g. Tayrona National Park in the Caribbean region of northern Colombia) and using those experiences, he has helped design and implement plans elsewhere in Latin America through OAS and University for International Cooperation.

José is currently co-Chair of the IUCN Small Carnivore Working Group. He has developed the Colombian Caribbean Felid Conservation Plan which aligned institutions, communities and policy-makers for conservation of mammals. He also contributed to the National Conservation Strategy of Jaguar in Mexico. This student is also research active, publishing more than 40 papers to date on mammals and mammalian conservation in regional and international journals. He has helped found two new journals (Latin American Journal of Conservation and Mammalogy Notes), served on several other editorial boards, and organized numerous symposia on mammalian conservation. In all, José F. González-Maya accomplishments related to mammalian conservation to date are extremely impressive. 

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


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)