MCCS 0503: Species Monitoring and Conservation: Terrestrial Mammals

This course engages conservation professionals in developing skills, approaches, and solutions applicable to the assessment and monitoring of wild mammal populations. The course will progress from components of study design to field data collection, data analysis, and the application of results to conservation and management.

Participants work with instructor Joe Kolowski on setting up a camera trap.

Participants work with instructor Joe Kolowski on setting up a camera trap.

The curriculum includes:

  • Review of mammalian diversity and taxonomy
  • Distance sampling and camera trapping
  • Small and large mammal trapping, handling, and marking
  • Statistical analysis of field data on occupancy and abundance
  • Application of field data to species management
  • Museum voucher preparation
  • Sample collection/storage for DNA, pathology and parasitology


Participants will become familiar with the programs Mark and Distance and will gain exposure to the program Presence.

This 12-day intensive course is led by Dr. Joe Kolowski (Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute) and Dr. Kris Helgen (National Museum of Natural History), who are joined by an expert group of guest instructors including Dr. Roland Kays. Dr. Helgen’s recently published discovery of the Olinguito gained significant international attention, and relied on many of the techniques and approaches taught in this course. The course will include an exclusive tour of the National Zoo; the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at Front Royal, Virginia; and the Museum of Natural History’s mammal range, which houses the world’s largest mammal collection.

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This course will be offered next in 2018.


Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia

Application Procedure

Applications are not currently being accepted.

Course Costs

The total cost for this course is $2,925.50 (Course fee of $2100 + Housing and Dining Package of $825.50). Those applying as citizens of “less-developed” nations qualify for a reduced course fee of $1200, making the total cost including housing (shared double room) and dining package $2025.50. Click HERE to check if your country of citizenship qualifies you for the reduced course fee. Your total course payment includes:

  • Registration fees
  • Instruction, course manual, textbooks and other course materials
  • Pick-up and drop-off at Dulles International airport, and transportation for course activities
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons – Dining begins with dinner on Sunday May 8th and ends with brunch on Saturday May 21.
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at extra cost) – Lodging begins Sunday, May 8th and check out is Saturday May 21.


Scholarships are available on a competitive basis for eligible international applicants. Click HERE for more information on scholarships.


Due to early morning and late evening field activities, commuting to this course is not encouraged. Special permission must be sought from the instructor.

For more information