Richard Pearson is a scientist at the American Museum of Natural History, where he is Director of Biodiversity Informatics Research at the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, and a Research Scientist in the Department of Herpetology. Richard completed his Ph.D. in biogeography at the University of Oxford in 2004 and joined the AMNH in 2005. Richard’s research seeks to explain the distribution of species at large spatial scales, from landscape to continental, and to understand the processes by which distributions change over time. His research falls largely within the field of biogeography and addresses questions that span ecology, evolution and conservation. Key questions of interest concern the relationship between ecological niches and geographic distributions, and the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.
While Richard’s research is principally question-driven, he also develops and tests novel tools of analysis, including ecological niche models (species distribution models). These models make use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and data from a variety of sources, including natural history museum collections, recent field surveys, and remote sensing. Since Richard’s interests are primarily in understanding general ecological and evolutionary principles, his research is not confined to a particular type of organism, habitat or region. To date, he has studied amphibians, reptiles, birds, plants, and primates in Europe, Madagascar, North America, South Africa and the Arctic.
Richard organizes and teaches a course on species distribution modeling at the museum’s Southwestern Research Station (click here to visit the course website) and has made available teaching materials on the topic (available here). Richard also organizes a discussion group for researchers and students in the New York region who are interested in distribution modeling. He also teaches GIS and remote sensing at the AMNH’s Richard Gilder Graduate School.