Russell Mittermeier

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Russell Mittermeier

Russell Alan Mittermeier (born November 8, 1949 in Bronx, New York City) is an American anthropologist, primatologist, and herpetologist.

Life and work

Mittermeier’s parents Francis Xavier and Bertha Mittermeier were Germans who emigrated to New York City. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, he graduated from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1971. In 1973 he graduated from Harvard University with a Master of Arts degree, and in 1977 he earned a Ph.D. in biological anthropology. For 30 years he conducted field studies on three continents, traveling to more than 20 countries in mainly tropical regions, especially Brazil, Suriname, and Madagascar. Mittermeier’s work focuses on primates and turtles, protected areas, and other aspects of conservation. He is considered an expert on biodiversity, ecosystem conservation, tropical biology, and species conservation. Mittermeier has been president of Conservation International since 1989. In addition, he has been Chairman of the Primate Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission since 1977. From 1978 to 1989 he was head of the WWF’s Primate Conservation Programme. In 1987 he became a member of the Linnean Society of New York. Between 1988 and 1989 he was Chairman of the Biodiversity Working Group at the World Bank. Since 1995 he has been President of the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, which promotes primate conservation worldwide.

Mittermeier discovered several new primate species, including the Sanje mangabey, the Maués marmoset and, in 2010, a new species of lemur from the genus Fork-striped Macaw. He wrote several popular science and scientific books and authored over 300 scientific articles. Among his most important works are Lemurs of Madagascar (1994) and Hotspots. Earth’s Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions (1999). Since 2009, he has been editor-in-chief of the nine-volume Handbook of the Mammals of the World series, published by Lynx Edicions in Spain.

Since 1991 Mittermeier has been married to Cristina Goettsch, a Mexican-born marine biologist and executive director of the International League of Conservation Photographers. The couple has two sons.

Awards and dedication names

In 1988 Mittermeier received the Gold Medal of the San Diego Zoo. In 1995, he was honored by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands with the Order of the Golden the Ark. In 1997, he was awarded the Order of the Southern Cross by the Brazilian head of state. The President of Suriname awarded him the Grand Sash and Order of the Yellow Star in 1998. In 1998, he was included in Time Magazine’s list of “EcoHeroes for the Planet”. In 2004, he received the Aldo Leopold Award from the American Society of Mammalogists. In addition, his name is immortalized in the artepitheta of the Mittermeier mouse macaque (2006 by Edward E. Lewis), the Mittermeier weasel macaque (2006 by Clément Rabarivola), and the Mittermeier naked-faced macaque (2014 by Laura K. Marsh).

In 2016, Mittermeier was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[1]

Works (selection)

  • 1992: Viagem philosophica: Uma redescoberta da Amazônia, 1792-1992. Index, Editora Ltda, ISBN 978-85-7083-036-4
  • 1994: Lemurs of Madagascar. Conservation International, ISBN 978-1-881173-08-3
  • 1997: Megadiversity: Earth’s biologically wealthiest nations. CEMEX, ISBN 978-968-6397-50-5
  • 1999: Hotspots: Earth’s biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial ecoregions. ISBN 978-968-6397-58-1
  • 2003: Wildlife Spectacles. CEMEX, ISBN 978-968-6397-72-7
  • 2005: Pantanal: South America’s wetland jewel. Firefly Books, ISBN 978-1-55407-090-9
  • 2005: Transboundary conservation: A new vision for protected areas. CEMEX, ISBN 978-968-6397-83-3


  • Nicholas Polunin, Lynn M. Curme: World who is who and does what in environment and conservation. P. 218, Earthscan, 1997, ISBN 978-1-85383-377-9
  • H.W. Wilson Company: Current Biography Yearbook. Vol. 53, p. 399.

Web links

Individual references

  1. American Academy of Arts and Sciences:Newly Elected Fellows.In: Accessed 22 April 2016.