Conservation & Science Staff Bios
Joanne Earnhardt, Ph.D.
Alexander Center for Applied Population Biology
- Ph.D. – Demography, Genetics and Management of Small Populations, University of Illinois at Chicago
- B.A. – Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin
Areas of Expertise
- Population biology research
- Development of scientific tools to enhance the genetic and demographic management of small populations
- Conservation of eastern massasauga rattlesnakes, Puerto Rican parrots
About Joanne Earnhardt:
Joanne graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution and a thesis on “Zoos as guardians of wildlife populations: using genetic and demographic management to promote viability.” Her dissertation and other publications investigate the interaction of management with population size and structure as well as genetic diversity.
One of her chapters focused on theoretical genetic strategies for reintroductions (i.e., releases of animals into their native wild habitats), which sparked an interest in the emerging science of reintroduction. As a result, she chaired the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Reintroduction Scientific Advisory Group for five years, serves on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Reintroduction Specialist Group, developed the web-based Avian Reintroduction and Translocation Database and in 2008 hosted the First International Wildlife Reintroduction Conference at Lincoln Park Zoo.
The final chapter of her dissertation became a roadmap for the development of a Population Viability Analysis for zoo populations. With support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and several colleagues, she produced the innovative software, ZooRisk: a risk-assessment tool.
Joanne currently works on recovery projects to conserve the endangered eastern massasauga rattlesnake and serves as coordinator of the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Species Survival Plan®. She collaborates with colleagues in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources on population management for the Puerto Rican parrot in the two island aviaries.
While she enjoys birding (primarily because you can walk in amazing habitats), her favorite species remains the computer. And her favorite quote is from R. Buckminster Fuller: “To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”