Mary Blair

Director, Biodiversity Informatics Research Center for Biodiversity and Conservation American Museum of Natural History Affiliated Professor Richard Gilder Graduate School American Museum of Natural History


B.A. 2005, Swarthmore College M.A. 2006, Columbia University Ph.D. 2011, Columbia University




Overview of Research


My research interests lie in the conservation biology of primates and other mammals. In particular I integrate genetic methods with spatial modeling to better understand the evolutionary processes that generate biodiversity and the influence of environmental variability on evolutionary divergence. Most recently, I am studying the diversity, evolution, and conservation of slow lorises in Vietnam. In my dissertation, I studied the relationship between landscape heterogeneity and genetic differentiation in Central American Squirrel Monkeys in Costa Rica. I am broadly trained in landscape genetics and ecology, biogeography and ecological niche modeling, behavioral ecology, and molecular phylogenetics. I teach courses on geographic information systems (GIS) for evolutionary biology, ecology and conservation at Columbia University and the Richard Gilder Graduate School at the AMNH.


Blair, M.E., Sterling, E.J., Dusch, M., Raxworthy, C., and R.G. Pearson. 2013. Ecological divergence and speciation in Eulemur sister species. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26(8):1790-1801. DOI:10.1111/jeb.12179.


Sterling, E.J., Bynum, N., and M.E. Blair, editors. 2013. Primate Ecology and Conservation: A Handbook of Techniques. Series in Techniques in Ecology and Conservation. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Blair, M.E., Gutierrez-Espeleta, G. and D.J. Melnick. 2013. Subspecies of the Central American Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedii) as units for conservation. International Journal of Primatology 34(1): 86-98. DOI:10.1007/s10764-012-9650-z


Blair, M.E., Rose, R.A., Ersts, P., Sanderson, E.W., Redford, K.H., Didier, K., Sterling, E.J., and R.G. Pearson. 2012. Incorporating climate change into conservation planning: Identifying priority areas across a species’ range. Frontiers in Biogeography 4(4): 157-167. Available at:


Blair, M.E. and D.J. Melnick. 2012. Scale-dependent Effects of a Heterogeneous Landscape on Genetic Differentiation in the Central American Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedii). PLoS ONE 7(8): e43027. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0043027. Available at: journal.pone.0043027


Bett, N., Blair, M.E., and E.J. Sterling. 2012. Ecological niche conservatism in doucs (genus Pygathrix). International Journal of Primatology 33(4): 972-988. DOI:10.1007/s10764-012-9622-3


Blair, M.E. and D.J. Melnick. 2012. Genetic evidence for dispersal by both sexes in the Central American Squirrel Monkey, Saimiri oerstedii citrinellus. American Journal of Primatology 74(1): 37-47. DOI:10.1002/ajp.21007. Selected as a featured article:


Blair, M.E., Sterling, E.J., and M.M. Hurley. 2011. Taxonomy and conservation of Vietnam’s primates: A review. American Journal of Primatology 73(11): 1093-1106. DOI:10.1002/ajp.20986


Blair, M.E. 2011. Habitat modification and gene flow in Saimiri oerstedii: Landscape genetics, intraspecific molecular systematics, and conservation. Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University, New York, NY. 205 p. Available from: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses and also through Columbia University’s Academic Commons at


Grobler, P., Jacquier, M., deNys, H., Blair, M., Whitten, P.L., and T.R. Turner. 2006. Primate sanctuaries, taxonomy and survival: a case study from South Africa. Ecological and Environmental Anthropology 2(2): 12-16.