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Don J. Melnick

Title Professor

Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Conservation Biology and Director of the Center for Environment, Economy, and Society

Telephone (212)854-8186
Professional degree Ph.D., Physical Anthropology, Yale University, 1981
Research Keywords

Population genetics, molecular systematics, organismal evolution, behavioral ecology, conservation biology, environmental policy and implementation, science education.

Research Description Don Melnick uses molecular genetics to investigate aspects of ecology, behavior, evolution and conservation of vertebrates; spanning organisms from frogs to elephants, and continents from Central and South America to Asia and Africa. He also works to integrate science into policy; co-chairing the UN Millennium Task Force on Environmental Sustainability, and presenting a vision for environmentally sustainable economic growth to the UN, World Bank, and the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Alliance. Most recently, he developed The Rainforest Standard (RFSTM), with a team of over 60 experts from 7 countries, providing an innovative science-based financial mechanism to simultaneously protect forests, reduce carbon emissions, conserve biodiversity, and improve the socioeconomic conditions of rural communities living in and around forests. The RFSTM was launched at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 and is now being piloted in Asia and Latin America.
Representative Publications Blair, M.E. and Melnick, D.J. 2012. Scale-dependent Effects of a Heterogeneous Landscape on Genetic Differentiation in the Central American Squirrel Monkey. PLoS ONE, 7(8): e43027.

Warfield, J.J., Arango, N., Cabrera, H., and Melnick, D.J. 2012.  The Rainforest Standard - Integrating Social, Environmental, and Economic Well-being. Center for Environment, Economy and Society, Columbia University. 221 pp

Evans, B.J., Pin, L., Melnick, D.J.and Wright, S.I. 2010. Sex–linked inheritance in macaque monkeys: Implications for effective population size and dispersal to Sulawesi. Genetics, 185:923-937.

Vidya, T.N.C., Sukumar, R., and Melnick, D.J.  2009. Range-wide mtDNA phylogeography yields insights into the origins of Asian elephants. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 276:893-902.

Fernando, P., Vidya, T.N.C., Payne, J., Stuewe, M., Davison, G., Alfred, R.J. Andau, P., Bosi, E., Kilbourn, A., and Melnick, D.J. 2003. DNA analysis indicates that Asian elephants are native to Borneo and are therefore a high priority for conservation. PloS Biology. 1: 110-115.

Tosi, A.J., Morales, J.C. and Melnick, D.J. 2003. Paternal, maternal, and biparental molecular markers provide unique windows onto the evolutionary history of macaque monkeys. Evolution. 57: 1419-1435.

Gonder, M.K., Oates, J.R., Disotell, T.R., Forstner, M.R.J., Morales, J.C., and Melnick, D.J., 1997.  A new species of west African chimpanzee?  Nature, 388: 337.

Current Research

Genetic Consequences of habitat fragmentation in vertebrates, Genetic Indicators for setting conservation priorities, Implementation of environmental policy

Current Teaching Biodiversity, Conservation Genetics, Frontiers of Science