The Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative
A partnership to ensure that the new innovations and tools needed for species risk assessment, evaluating conservation actions, and managing populations are developed, available, and used effectively.
Software for Saving Species
The Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative (SCTI) is a partnership to ensure that the new innovations and tools needed for species risk assessment, conservation planning, and managing populations are developed, are globally available, and are used effectively. The initiative leverages expertise in population biology, computer programming, and species conservation planning to: build and support modeling tools that are essential to guiding conservation actions for thousands of threatened species in the wild; facilitate the intensive management of hundreds of species that are being protected within ex situ programs; and integrate conservation efforts across the spectrum of management approaches.
To create, deliver, provide training in, and sustain accessible software tools and associated scientific innovations that facilitate science-based decision making in species conservation.
The SCTI Team
SCTI Management Team
Jonathan D. Ballou is a Scientist Emeritus of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the National Zoo. His research has focused on the genetic and demographic problems confronting small populations, especially of threatened and endangered species. He is a recognized leader in developing the theoretical basis for managing small populations to maximize genetic diversity. He developed population management tools (software and applied theory) that are widely and internationally used by wildlife and zoo managers. Jon co-authored the first university textbook on Conservation Genetics (with colleagues Frankham and Briscoe from Sydney), a Primer of Conservation Genetics and more recently was a co-author on “Genetic Management of Fragmented Animal and Plant Populations” published by Oxford Univ. Press. Jon received his bachelor’s degree in Animal Behavior from the University of Virginia, his masters in statistics at George Washington University, and his Ph.D. in Population Genetics from the University of Maryland. He is a recipient of the Zoological Society of London’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Zoo Community, the Devra Kleiman Scientific Advancement Award given by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Ulysses S. Seal Award for Innovation in Conservation from the IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group.
SCTI Management Team
Robert C. Lacy is a Senior Conservation Scientist for the Chicago Zoological Society, and he is on the faculty of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at University of Chicago. He has served as Chair of the IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (2003-2011). He was trained in evolutionary biology, ecology, and genetics (PhD, Cornell University), and he has published papers in evolutionary theory, genetics, population ecology, taxonomy, behavior, physiology, conservation, and wildlife management. He is a recipent of the George B Rabb Award for Conservation Innovation from the IUCN Species Survival Commission and the Ulysses S Seal Award for Innovation in Conservation from the IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group.
SCTI Management Team
Onnie Byers is Chair of the IUCN SSC’s Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG, formerly CBSG), overseeing its headquarters staff and 10 regional resource centers and over 300 members. Onnie earned her Ph.D. in reproductive physiology from the University of Minnesota and completed a post doctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo in Washington D.C. Onnie joined the IUCN SSC’s Conservation Breeding Specialist Group in 1991 as a Program Officer and was promoted to the position of Executive Director in 2005, and appointed Chair in 2011. In addition to leading the organization, Onnie shares with CPSG’s Program Officers responsibility for design and facilitation of a wide range of Species Conservation Planning and other CPSG workshops. Onnie is dedicated to the transfer of these tools and processes to conservationists around the world. Onnie was integral in the establishment of the Amphibian Ark and continues to serve on its executive committee. She also serves on the SSC Steering Committee, the Species360 Board of Trustees, the Conservation and Sustainability Committee of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Board of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL).
Species Conservation Training Specialist
Sara Sullivan is a population biologist and global Training Specialist for the Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative (SCTI). She earned her MS in Wild Animal Biology from the Royal Veterinary College (University of London) and has extensive experience in population management. Prior to joining SCTI in 2017, Sara served as a genetic and demographic advisor for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) cooperatively managed Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs and continues to develop ex-situ management plans today. Sara is based at the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), where her primary work currently focuses on building global capacity for using SCTI modeling tools like Vortex, PMx, Outbreak, and MetaModel Manager to assess complex threats faced by small populations, manage wildlife resources, and succeed in conservation. In her role with SCTI, Sara not only develops, coordinates, and delivers online and in-person technical training, but she also supports the development team through extensive software testing and collaborates in a number of ongoing conservation projects. In her free time, she fills various leadership roles for the Bearded Emperor Tamarin and White-faced Saki SSPs and serves on a number of scientific advisory groups.
Conservation Science Developer
Taylor received her Ph.D from the Animal Science Department of the University of Maryland in 2015. She conducted her doctoral research at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation Genomics under the direction of Rob Fleischer, studying the effects of demographic bottlenecks on genetic diversity in an endangered Hawaiian bird. During her graduate education, she also conducted research in animal behavior, investigating personality in the budgerigar and the effects of environmental enrichment on cassowary behavior. Taylor developed an affinity for programming while analyzing her dissertation data, and is pleased to combine her conservation biology and computer science skills in her position at the Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative.