Ceiba pentandra

Center for

John Terborgh, Ph.D.

Duke University
Box 90381
Durham, NC 27708

Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences


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John W. Terborgh is a James B. Duke Professor of Environmental Science and is Co-Director of the Center for Tropical Conservation at Duke University. He is a member of the National Academy of Science, and for the past thirty-five years, he has been actively involved in tropical ecology and conservation issues. An authority on avian and mammalian ecology in neotropical forests, Dr. Terborgh has published numerous articles and books on conservation themes. Since 1973 he has operated a field station in Peru's Manu National Park where he has overseen the research of more than 100 investigators. Dr. Terborgh earlier served on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Princeton University. In June 1992 he was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his distinguished work in tropical ecology, and in April 1996 he was awarded the National Academy of Science Daniel Giraud Elliot medal for his research, and for his book Diversity and the Tropical Rainforest. He serves on several boards and advisory committees related to conservation, including the Wildlands Project, Cultural Survival, The Nature Conservancy, The World Wildlife Fund and both the Primate and Ecology Specialist Groups of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Patricia Alvarez holds a PhD from Rutgers University and a Master's Degree in Forestry from West Virginia University. She has worked with the CTC since 2002, working with the ParksWatch program since 2002, and conducting research at Cocha Cashu Biological Station since 2003.  Currently, Patricia is directing a CI/TEAM initiative at EBCC.

Lisa C. Davenport holds a PhD in Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Environmental Management from the Duke University School of the Environment.  She has been a Research Associate with the Center for Tropical Conservation since 1994.  Dr. Davenport’s research interests lie in the conservation of rare animals, with a current focus on aquatic mammals (otters, particularly) and birds.  She is also interested in tropical forest ecology, protected area management, and ecotourism’s role in effecting conservation in the tropics. She is a member of the IUCN Otter Specialist Group, and has consulted for the World Bank and for private wildlife refuges, analyzing tourism development strategies and implementing visitor impact management plans. Since 1989 she has conducted or assisted with research in Zimbabwe, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Australia, Venezuela, Gabon, and Peru.

Nigel Pitman holds a Ph.D. in botany and has been a research associate at the CTC since 2000. His research interests include the community ecology of Amazonian trees, the conservation status of narrowly endemic tropical plants, and the long-term monitoring of tropical animal communities. He has also worked extensively with protected areas and capacity-building projects in South America.

Maria Renata Pereira Leite Pitman is a Wildlife Veterinarian, with a Master's Degree in Forest Science at the Federal University of Parana, Brazil. She has been a Research Associate with the Center for Tropical Conservation since 2000. She is an expert in mammalian ecology, notably carnivores' populations in South America. Since 2000, she is working in serveral projects towards conservation of Madre de Dios region in Peru, and latelly helping with the consolidation of the Serra da Baitaca State Park, at the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Renata is a member of the IUCN Canid Specialist Group since 2000, serving first as Deputy Chair of the South American branch for this group, and since 2009, as Chair of the Amazonian Canids Working Group.

Ron Sutherland holds a Ph.D. from Duke University.  His research interests include ecology and conservation of reptiles, Southeastern USA regional conservation planning, and application of GIS to conservation strategies.  He works in collaboration with the CTC and the Wildlands Project to apply a science-based framework to conservation in the Southeastern USA. 

Varun Swamy is a Postdoctoral Associate with the Center for Tropical Conservation. Varun holds a Ph.D. from Duke University, and his dissertation research examined the role played by herbivorous vertebrates, insects and pathogens in the spacing dynamics and the maintenance of tree species diversity in Amazonian forests. Varun's current research interests include: tree recruitment patterns and processes in Amazonian forests, the role of plant-animal interactions and effects of hunting-induced defaunation on forest regeneration dynamics.