My early work with the Central American tapir suggested that large vertebrates played a major role in structuring tropical ecosystems. This lead me and my students to study the ecology of tapirs, white-lipped peccaries, collared peccaries, tortoises and other animal species, with a particular focus on the home range and scale of movement of these animals. My research group and I have conducted some of the first ever radio-telemetry studies of Neotropical wildlife, including white-lipped peccaries. We continue to add new animal species and interactions to this system, and are currently asking how population reduction, species removal (extinction) or species addition (introduction) through anthropogenic effects influence forest regeneration and community structure. Past funding by World Wildlife Fund Canada, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund-USA, Scott Neotropical Fund, Carl Zeiss Inc. World Wide Fund For Nature-Brasil, Walt Disney Foundation, Organization of American States, Tropical Conservation and Development Program-University of Florida.
Biodiversity dynamics and land-use changes in the Amazon: multi-scale interactions between ecological systems and resource-use decisions by indigenous peoples. (Current, subproject)
Co-PIs: Kirsten M Silvius, independent researcher; Jane Read, Syracuse University; James Gibbs, State University of New York-ESF; Associates: Flamarion de Oliviera, National Museum of Brazil, Brazil. US National Science Foundation (NSF).
As part of this coupled natural human systems project we have collected abundance, diversity and distribution data on about 300 wildlife species from 48,000 ha of forests, woodland, savannas and wetlands of the Rupununi region of Guyana. Habitat associations have been noted, along with feeding ecology. This data is being analyzed with the objective of describing how abundance and diversity interact with vegetation. We are also describing how inter and intra species interactions influence abundance and distribution patterns.