Remembering the explorer on the loose Dr Thomas Lovejoy – National Geographic Society newsroom


The National Geographic Society is deeply saddened by the passing of National Geographic Explorer at Large and renowned conservation biologist Dr Thomas Lovejoy. Our condolences go out to Tom’s family, friends and colleagues at this time.

Throughout his career, Tom has made impressive contributions to the field of conservation biology and has drawn attention to the fragile state of our environment. He is well known for popularizing the term “biological diversity” and analyzing the interplay between climate change and biodiversity, including his work in the Brazilian Amazon rainforests.

Tom joined the National Geographic community in 1971 when he received his first grant to study the ecology of rainforest birds in the Amazon. He was then a member of the Company’s Research and Exploration Committee, Ocean Restoration Advisory Board; the Chairman of the Big Cats Initiatives Grants Committee and the Great Energy Challenge Advisory Committee; and as scientific advisor to the Society‘s Chief Scientist and his perpetual expeditions to the planet. In 2019 he was selected as a National Geographic Explorer at Large, a title he held until his death.

Tom leaves behind a tremendous legacy in the fields of conservation and biology, as well as in the Society. We are proud to have known and worked with Tom over the past five decades.

Given its impact on National Geographic, we asked some of our contributors to share their thoughts:

“Tom left a deep legacy in the field of biology and at the National Geographic Society, where he was a beloved member of our community for over 50 years. To know Tom was to know an extraordinary scientist, teacher, advisor and unyielding champion of our planet. It has also been a consummate connector, helping to bring people and organizations together to preserve and protect some of our most fragile ecosystems and species. Tom’s pioneering Amazon research, passionate advocacy, and many other accomplishments have helped us better understand, appreciate and care for the great diversity of life on our planet. He left an indelible mark on all of us and will be sorely missed. ” – Jill Tiefenthaler, CEO

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend Tom Lovejoy. As a global champion in increasing and disseminating knowledge of environmental science, Tom exemplified what it means to be a National Geographic explorer. was eternally hopeful and always generous with his time, especially with early career scientists. Tom was a beloved member of the National Geographic community for 50 years, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to know him both professionally and personally.

– Alex Moen, Head of Chief Explorer Engagement

Tom was a giant in the field of ecology and conservation. He showed the world how the fragmentation of tropical forests into fragments accelerates the extinction of species and the degradation of entire ecosystems, and coined the term “biological diversity”, among many other scientific achievements. He fought hard for the conservation of the Amazon rainforest. But more importantly, he was a wonderful mentor and extremely generous with his students, colleagues and friends. He was the epitome of the “gentleman and scholar”. My dear friend will miss me, but his legacy and inspiration will stay with us forever. – Enric sala, explorer in residence


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