Jose Maria Cardoso da Silva

Chair of Geography and Sustainable Development
Secondary Faculty in Biology

(305) 284-6890
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A native of Belém, Pará, in the Brazilian Amazon, Dr. José Maria Cardoso da Silva is a biogeographer who studies the relationships between biodiversity conservation and development in tropical regions. Supported by more than 20 years of field experience studying different tropical socio-ecological systems, his research integrates concepts and theories from geography, ecology, biogeography, economics, conservation science, sustainability science, and political science to find solutions for the most pressing conservation challenges tropical countries face.

He has been a tenured professor at the Department of Geography and Sustainable Development of the University of Miami since 2015. He also has a secondary appointment at the Department of Biology.

Dr. Silva earned a B.Sc. from Universidade Federal do Pará (1986), an M.Sc. from the Universidade de Brasília (1989), and a Ph.D. from the University of Copenhagen (1995) under the supervision of Dr. Jon Fjeldså. He was visiting researcher at the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi (1995-1997) and then a tenured associated professor at the Department of Animal Biology at the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), Recife, from 1997 to 2001. At UFPE, he founded, with his students and colleagues, CEPAN, one of the most important Brazilian environmental organizations as well as led inter-disciplinary and multi-institutional efforts to design biodiversity conservation strategies at state and regional levels, some of which were converted into public policies. From 2001 to 2015, he worked for Conservation International (CI), a global conservation organization. At CI, he held leadership positions from Regional Director to Executive Vice President and oversaw conservation and sustainable development programs in Latin America, Africa, and Asia-Pacific.

During his career, Dr. Silva worked with local communities, non-governmental organizations, universities, research institutes, businesses, and governments to design place-based sustainable development programs and set aside millions of acres of protected areas in important areas for biodiversity conservation, with particular emphasis on the Brazilian Amazon.

In addition to his conservation efforts, Dr. Silva has published 150+ peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in three languages, published or co-edited nine books, and mentored 29 graduate (both MS and Ph.D.) students in four universities in Brazil and the United States.

Dr. Silva’s publications include several disciplines, from biological systematics to sustainable development. They have been published in journals such as Nature, Journal of Biogeography, Bioscience, Land Use Policy, Climate, and Development, Biological Conservation, Conservation Biology, Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation, Conservation Science and Practice, Environmental Conservation, and the Bulletin of the Linnean Society of London. His most recent edited book is a comprehensive synthesis of the ecology and conservation of the Caatinga, the largest and most biodiverse Neotropical tropical dry forest.

Dr. Silva has received the following recognitions: Ararajuba Award for outstanding contribution to Brazilian Ornithology, Brazilian Ornithological Society, Brazil (1993); Merit Award to Young Scientists, National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, Brazil (1996); Special Recognition, Environment Program, USAID-Brazil (2003); Young Latin American Biologist Award, La Red Latinoamericana de Ciencias Biological (RELAB) (2005); Special Recognition, Graduate Program in Tropical Biodiversity, Universidade Federal do Amapá (2017).

Dr. Silva has been a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society (AOS) since 2009. In 2019, AOS awarded Dr. Silva the Ralph W. Schreiber Conservation Award for his contributions to the conservation of birds.