Jim Sanderson, Ph.D.

Program Manager of Wild Cat Conservation

Dr. Jim Sanderson received a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico in 1976. He is the founder and director of the Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation, a member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, a review board member of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, and a fellow of Wildlife Conservation Network.

Jim’s mission is to ensure the survival of small wild cats and their natural habitats worldwide. This mission is achieved by working with local partners around the world to identify and mitigate threats to the world’s small wild cats. In 1996 Jim used radio-telemetry to better understand habitat fragmentation and landscape connectivity, and conservation issues of Guignas (Leopardus guigna) in Chile. Bolivian and Chilean colleagues and Jim captured and radio-collared the first Andean cat in May, 2004. He has also used camera phototraps to survey wildlife populations and monitor biodiversity in South America, Africa, China and Southeast Asia. Jim’s photograph of the Andean cat appeared in the February 2000 issue of National Geographic. With Chinese colleagues, Jim got the first pictures of the Chinese mountain cat in the wild. He has written four books and published more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles.


  • Ph.D., Mathematics, University of New Mexico
  • M.S., Mathematics, University of New Mexico
  • B.S., Mathematics, Lafayette College

Recent Publications

View full list of publications


A Monograph of the Felidae (nearing completion; to be published by the author for subscribers)

Patterns in Nature. Stuart L. Pimm, University of Chicago Press

Small Cats: The Animal Answer Guide. James G. Sanderson and Patrick Watson, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011, 144 pages.

Published Papers

Harris, G., J.G. Sanderson, J. Erz, S. E. Lehnen, M. J. Butler. 2015. Weather and prey predict mammals visitation to water. PLOS One. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0141355

Diamond, J, S. L. Pimm, and J. G. Sanderson. 2015. Comment: the checkered history of checkerboard distributions. Ecology.

Gascon, C., T. M. Brooks, T. Contreras-MacBeath, N. Heard, W. Konstant, J. Lamoreux, F. Launay, M. Maunder, R. A. Mittermeier, S. Molur, R. Khalifa Al Mubarak, M. J. Parr, A. G.J. Rhodin, A. B. Rylands, P. Soorae, J. G. Sanderson, and J-C Vie. 2015. The Importance and Benefits of Species. Current Biology 25:431–438.

Sanderson, J. 2015. Feds weaken the ESA. Wild Felid Monitor Winter 20(1):8.

Napolitano, C., D. Díaz, J. Sanderson, W. E. Johnson, K. Ritland, C. E. Ritland, and E. Poulin. 2015. Reduced genetic diversity and increased dispersal in guigna (Leopardus guigna) in Chilean fragmented landscapes. Journal of Heredity: 522–536.

Meek, P. D., G. Ballard, A. Claridge, R. Kays, K. Moseby, T. O’Brien, A. O’Connell, J. Sanderson, D. E. Swann, M. Tobler and S. Townsend. 2014. Recommended guiding principles for reporting on camera trapping research. Biodiversity and Conservation 23:2321-2343.

Constanza, N.,  W. E. Johnson, J. Sanderson, S. J. O’Brien, A. Rus Hoelzel, R. Freer, N. Dunstone, K. Ritland, C. E. Ritland, E. Poulin. 2014. Phylogeography and population history of Leopardus guigna, the smallest American felid. Conservation Genetics.

Sanderson, J. and G. Harris. 2013. Automatic data organization, storage, and analysis of camera trap pictures. Journal of Indonesian Natural History 1:6-14

Vidal, F. and J. Sanderson. 2012. Pumas in central-south Chile. Cat News 56: 40-42.

Sanderson, J.G., J. Diamond, and S.L. Pimm. 2011. Response to Collins et al. (2011). Journal of Biogeography 8:1.

Sanderson, J., Y. Yufeng, D. Naktsang. 2010. Of the only endemic cat species in China: the Chinese mountain cat. Cat News Special Issue 5: 18-22.

Harris, G., R. Thompson, J. L. Childs, and J. G. Sanderson. 2010. Automatic storage and analysis of camera trap data. Journal of the Ecological Society of America 7: 352-359.

Sanderson, J. 2010. Kodkod: guigna or pampas cat? Cat News 52: 25-26.

Wilting, A., A. Cord, A. J. Hearn, D. Hesse, A. Mohamed, C. Traeholdt, S. M. Cheyne, S. Sunarto, M-A. Jayasilan, J. Ross, A. C. Shapiro, A. Sebastian, S. Dech, C. Breitenmoser, J. Sanderson, J. W. Duckworth, and H. Hofer. 2010. Modeling the Species Distribution of Flat-Headed Cats (Prionailurus planiceps), an Endangered South-East Asian Small Felid. PLoS ONE 5(3): e9612. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009612.

Silva-Rodríguez E.A., C. Verdugo, O.A. Aleuy, J.G. Sanderson, G.R. Ortega-Solís, F. Osorio-Zuñiga, and D. González-Acuña. 2010. Evaluating mortality sources for the Vulnerable pudu Pudu puda in Chile: implications for the conservation of a threatened deer. Oryx 44:97–103.

Blog Posts