EDGE Community

Dr Samuel Turvey
London, UK Yangtze River, China Haiti
  • Project Co-ordinator
  • Scientific advisor
[General description section]
Sam is an expert on past and present mammal extinctions. His research addresses historical and prehistoric human impacts on global ecosystems and the magnitude of human-driven extinctions over time, and how to develop conservation strategies for today's endangered mammal species.

Sam is already heavily involved with active conservation projects for top EDGE species. He has been one of the key co-ordinators for the recovery programme of the Critically Endangered Yangtze River dolphin, and is conducting long-term field surveys for the Hispaniolan solenodon. He has also carried out extensive conservation work in China, Russia, New Caledonia and Belize, and has substantial additional palaeontological fieldwork experience in Puerto Rico, Egypt and New Zealand.
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society London
Position within organisation
Research Fellow

This project is a continuation of the collaborative international 2004 'Workshop on conservation of the baiji and Yangtze finless porpoise', March 2006 pilot Yangtze baiji survey, and Nov-Dec 2006 Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin Expedition.

Sam is hoping to elucidate the factors that caused the possible extinction of the baiji

The Last Survivors Project: Technical advisor

Led by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the project collaboration comprises the Sociedad Ornitológica de la Hispaniola, the Zoological Society of London, the Parque Zoologico Nacional (ZooDom), and the Ministerio de Estado de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales de Republica Dominica. The project started in October 2009 and its purpose is to enable the long-term conservation of the Hispaniolan solenodon and hutia through participatory species action planning, a strengthened evidence-base, an island-wide monitoring programme, and improved awareness. Among the many outputs will be a range of scientific publications, including maps of species distribution and priority conservation zones, and evidence-based Species Action Plans.

Establish whether there are any functioning baji populations remaining in the Yangtze river basin and conduct appropriate conservation actions.

Relevant species

Long considered the world‘s rarest and most threatened cetacean, this species may already be extinct.

[Relevance of this particular species to you (optional)]
Sam is a major promulgator of the plight of the Yangtze river dolphin and, incidentally, an expert on this incredibly rare species. He has led survey teams along the Yangtze river in the attempt to find any last remaining specimens.
Research interests
Evolution and conservation of mammals and insular vertebrates; palaeobiology
Relevant publications

Turvey, S.T. Witness to Extinction: How We Failed to Save the Yangtze River Dolphin. 2009. Oxford University Press.


Turvey, S.T. (Ed.) Holocene Extinctions . Oxford University Press (to be published 2008).

Turvey, S.T., Meredith, H.M.R. & Scofield, R.P. In press. Continued survival of Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus ) in Haiti. Oryx.

Turvey, S.T., Pitman, R.L., Taylor, B.L., Barlow, J., Akamatsu, T., Barrett, L.A., Zhao Xiujiang, Reeves, R.R., Stewart, B.S., Pusser, L.T., Wang Kexiong, Wei Zhuo, Zhang Xianfeng, Richlen, M., Brandon, J.R. & Wang Ding. 2007. First human-caused extinction of a cetacean species? Biology Letters 3: 537-540.

Isaac, N.J.B., Turvey, S.T., Collen, B., Waterman, C. & Baillie, J.E.M. 2007. Mammals on the EDGE: conservation priorities based on threat and phylogeny. PLoS One 2(3): e296. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000296

Turvey, S.T., Oliver, J.R., Narganes Storde, Y. & Rye, P. 2007. Late Holocene extinction of Puerto Rican native land mammals. Biology Letters 3: 193-196.

Turvey, S.T., Grady, F.V. & Rye, P. 2006. A new genus and species of ‘giant hutia’ (Tainotherium valei ) from the Quaternary of Puerto Rico: an extinct arboreal quadruped? Journal of Zoology 270: 585-594.

Turvey, S.T., Barrett, L.A., Braulik, G.T. & Wang Ding. 2006. Implementing the recovery programme for the Yangtze River dolphin. Oryx 40: 257-258.

Turvey, S.T. & Risley, C.L. 2006. Modelling the extinction of Steller’s sea cow. Biology Letters 2: 94-97.

Associated Blog Posts
27th Apr 09
Everyone loves dolphins, don’t they? And the baiji—the Yangtze River Dolphin—was so beautiful. Along the river, legends abound of its origin from the m...  Read

9th Apr 09
Here is the final blog from EDGE’s Dr Sam Turvey about his surveys along the Yangtze River in China, trying to discover the cause behind the disappearance ...  Read

25th Feb 09
A three-year conservation project for Hispaniola’s native mammals has just received large-scale support from the UK-based Darwin Initiative, a scheme which...  Read

22nd Jan 09
Here is the third blog from EDGE's Dr Sam Turvey about his surveys along the Yangtze River in China, trying to discover the cause behind the disappearance of...  Read

6th Jan 09
Here is the second blog from EDGE's Dr Sam Turvey about his surveys along the Yangtze River in China, trying to discover the cause behind the disappearance o...  Read

8th Dec 08
Here is the first blog from EDGE's Dr Sam Turvey about his surveys along the Yangtze River in China, trying to discover the cause behind the disappearance of...  Read

10th Apr 08
In the EDGE office we are anxiously awaiting the return of two of our team members - EDGE coordinator Carly Waterman and Dr. Sam Turvey have been in China c...  Read

8th Aug 07
After more than 20 million years on the planet it looks as if we have now lost the Yangtze River dolphin or baiji forever.  The question scientists are now...  Read

6th Jun 07
The Qiantang River is a large river in eastern China that travels through Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces. Although several hundred miles south of the Yangtze...  Read

17th Jan 07
The Yangtze River dolphin or baiji, long considered to be one of the world’s rarest and most threatened mammals, may have finally disappeared forever. This...  Read