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Research Interests

  • Mammalian ecology in the human landscape
  • Investigation and mitigation of human-wildlife conflict
  • Use of spatial data at landscape and local scale to investigate influence of human activities on mammalian space use patterns, social systems, demographics, and the dynamics of human-carnivore conflict


  • PhD in zoology, Michigan State University
  • MS in wildlife ecology, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
  • BS in natural resources and wildlife ecology, Cornell University


Dr. Kolowski’s doctoral work investigated interactions between humans and large carnivores in and around the Masai Mara National Reserve in southwest Kenya, with a focus on spotted hyena spatial ecology and analysis of livestock depredation patterns. His post-doc research investigated the effects of oil exploration on the behavior and ecology of ocelots, primates, and other mammals in northern Peru. Since late 2009, Dr. Kolowski has managed the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation’s graduate- and professional-level capacity building programs.

His passion for conservation and applied research has spawned a corresponding enthusiasm for the integration of this research with effective conservation education and training. He joined the Smithsonian Institution in 2007 as a post-doctoral fellow and since late 2009, Joe has coordinated conservation training and capacity building programs through the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and within the Smithsonian-Mason Global Conservation Studies Program.

Joe capitalizes on his experience in international research, university teaching, and community outreach and education to ensure that the success of these programs not only continues but increases in the coming years. He continues to be involved in various research programs within SCBI, both in Gabon and Peru, investigating the influence of extractive activities on forest wildlife.

Selected Publications

Kolowski, J.M., and A. Alonso. 2012. Primate abundance in an unhunted region of the northern Peruvian Amazon, and the influence of seismic oil exploration. International Journal of Primatology 33: 958-971.

Kolowski, J.M., S. Blake, M.D. Kock, M.E. Lee, A. Henderson, A. Honorez and A. Alonso. 2010. Movements of four forest elephants in an oil concession in Gabon, Central Africa. African Journal of Ecology 48: 1134-1138.

Kolowski, J.M., and A. Alonso. 2010. Density and activity patterns of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) in northern Peru and the impact of oil exploration activities. Biological Conservation 143: 917-925.

Kolowski, J.M., and K.E. Holekamp. 2009. Ecological and anthropogenic influences on space use in the spotted hyena. Journal of Zoology 277:23-36.

Smith, J.E., J.M. Kolowski, K.E. Graham, S.E. Dawes, and K.E. Holekamp. 2008. Social and ecological determinants of fission-fusion sociality in the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Animal Behaviour 76: 619-636.

Kolowski, J.M., and C.K. Nielsen. 2008. Using Penrose distance to identify potential risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions Biological Conservation 141:1119-1128.

Kolowski, J.M., and K E. Holekamp. 2006. Spatial, temporal, and physical characteristics of livestock depredations by large carnivores along a Kenyan reserve border. Biological Conservation 128:529-541.

Courses Taught

  • CONS 630/MCCS 0503: Species Monitoring and Conservation – Terrestrial Mammals
  • CONS 697/MCCS 0511: Estimating Animal Abundance and Occupancy


See his SCBI profile

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Joe Kolowski