Heaney receives 2014 Aldo Leopold award

Larry Heaney, PhD, Curator and Head, Division of Mammals

1. What does conservation mean to you?

Creating a stable environment, for all species, because humans depend on stability for survival.

2. Why should people care about conservation?

Because human society gains from conservation, and people benefit individually, both economically and emotionally.

3. Why do you love your job?

Nowhere else could I spend most of my time doing things that matter deeply to me, which I also find utterly enjoyable.  I take great pleasure in the process of discovery, and in telling other people about those discoveries, and explaining why they are exciting and useful.

Quoting the American Society of Mammalogists, "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."

At their recent meetings in Oklahoma City, the society announced that the 2014 recipient is Dr. Lawrence Heaney, curator of mammals at the Field Museum.

The award was given to Larry with the following citation.  "Dr. Heaney has worked tirelessly over the past three decades to creatively explore, document and conserve the highly diverse mammalian fauna of one of the most diverse oceanic archipelagos on our planet. During that time, he also was heavily engaged in training the next generation of local mammalogists; many of these individuals are now in professional conservation, resource management, or academic positions in this archipelago. His work has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation and a wide range of conservation NGOs and foundations. As a student, our awardee was naturally drawn to Southeast Asia through his interest in biogeography and his appreciation that islands of this part of the world provided fertile ground for research into the diversification of insular faunas. Interest in this region early in his career led to a lengthy and highly productive research program, with more than 160 publications that detail impressive new taxonomic discoveries, new insights into the biogeography of the region, conservation biology of endemic species and phylogenetic relationships among a significant portion of the mammalian fauna (especially rodents and bats) of this Southeast Asian region. All aspects of his research are oriented toward conservation. In addition to his high research productivity, our awardee also was instrumental in the formation and development of several conservation efforts in the region including new conservation NGOs (Wildlife Conservation Society of the Philippines) and through his training efforts, the development of human capacity in conservation biology for the region. He also has made information on mammals accessible to the general public by publishing beautiful popular books focused on conservation topics for the region including the widely acclaimed Vanishing Treasures of the Philippine Rain Forest."