Andrew Smith is a firm believer in natural history, and his career has been marked by the ability to sit for long periods on rocks and in meadows watching pikas. His talk will compare the natural history of two pika species that are the same size and look alike, but which occupy distinctly different habitats: the American pika living in rocks throughout the Intermontane West, and the Plateau pika that occupies the vast high grasslands of the Tibetan plateau. Dr. Smith will highlight the intriguing differences in their ecology and behavior, and then address important conservation issues concerning each species. The thrust of the talk is this—we need to understand the natural history of a species to properly engage in its conservation.
Dr. Smith, now retired, served on the faculty of life sciences at ASU for 39 years, and was awarded the rank of President’s Professor in 2010. Andrew is a conservation biologist whose work includes the behavioral ecology of mammals, effects of habitat fragmentation, and ecosystem services provided by small mammals. He primarily works in the mountains of western United States and on the Tibetan plateau. His research focuses on the pika, a small relative of rabbits. The American Society of Mammalogists chose Andrew as the recipient of its 2015 Aldo Leopold Conservation Award. In addition to publishing ~130 papers, his, “A Guide to the Mammals of China,” was the first comprehensive treatment of the 556 mammal species found in China and in 2018 he produced, “Lagomorphs: Pikas, Rabbits, and Hares of the World.”