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Areas of Expertise:
- Mammals of the Phillippines
- Mammals of the Intermountain West
- Mammalian Systematics
- Historical Biogeography
- Conservation Biology
- Tropical and Desert Ecology
As the Museum's Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, Eric Rickart has devoted more than 30 years studying the origins and preservation of biological diversity, both regionally and globally. His research has involved historical biogeography, community ecology, and evolution of mammals in island systems where geographic isolation makes the patterns of diversity more apparent. In collaboration with Dr. Lawrence Heaney and Danilo Balete from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Dr. Rickart conducts research on the remarkably diverse and highly endemic mammals of the Philippines. Their studies have involved scientific expeditions to previously unexplored regions, discovery of several species of native mammals new to science, revealed fundamental patterns of geographic distribution across islands and along elevational gradients, and shown how native and non-native species respond to both disturbance and restoration of natural habitat. Their studies have helped in efforts to establish a nationwide system of protected areas for long-term preservation of Philippine biodiversity.
In collaboration with Museum Research Associate Dr. Rebecca Rowe, Rickart's current research on mammals of the Great Basin uses historical data from museum collections together with modern field surveys to document faunal change over the past century and to investigate the relative roles of climate change and human land use in driving observed changes. Another project, with Research Associate Dr. William Newmark, involves analysis of wildlife trail systems in the Intermountain West to determine how landscape features affect movement patterns of large mammals. All of Rickart's research has direct implications for future conservation efforts and the preservation of biodiversity. He frequently presents his research at national conferences and has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in a wide variety professional journals.
Dr. Rickart recently received a grant of $400,000 from the National Science Foundation to expand and re-house the Vertebrate Zoology collections of 71,000 specimens within the new Museum building. He is a member of several professional organizations, including Society for Conservation Biology, Southwestern Association of Naturalists, and the American Society of Mammalogists. He is a past editor of Journal of Mammalogy, and a current associate editor of Mammalian Species.
Eric Rickart received a PhD in Biology in 1982 from the University of Utah and a M.A. in Biology and a B.S. in Systematics and Ecology from University of Kansas. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Utah and a Research Associate in the Department of Zoology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.