In the tropics, hunting, habitat degradation, and habitat fragmentation by humans are major drivers of changes in animal and plant distribution and abundance patterns. A strong interest of mine is the development of effective wildlife management strategies and policies for the tropics. This line of applied research includes working with indigenous and non-indigenous rural peoples throughout the Neotropics to understand culturally influenced approaches to resource management, and the valuation of and attitudes towards wildlife resources. Past funding by World Wildlife Fund Canada, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund-USA, World Wide Fund For Nature-Brazil.
Hidden Animals and the Challenges of Accurate Assessment (Current subproject)
With 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).
Accurately assessing animal population status is challenging, especially in tropical regions, where technical equipment and workers with advanced degrees are rare. In these areas, status is usually derived by counting animals viewed along line-transects. Counts however can be strongly influenced by vegetation which can impede the ability of researchers to sight animals. Using pre-existing trails can also lower counts because these may be used by local people for hunting leading to defaunated trail areas due to hunting and animal avoiding trails. Various statistical models and software programs use the animal counts to provide measures of occupancy, abundance, diversity, density, and biomass and population size of species. This information is then used by policy setters use to describe conservation status, or by ecologists to describe cascading effects of “defaunation” on ecosystems. We assess the validity of using sighting counts to estimate vertebrate species population parameters using two independent measures.
Invasive Species and Novel Ecosystems
With Sergio Nogueira-Filho and Selene Nogueiro. Funded by US Fish and Wildlife Service, Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), University of Hawaii.
Research must inform resource use and conservation decisions, for communities, businesses, governments and nongovernmental entities. Our work in Hawaii, where cultural and paradigmatic clashes between indigenous peoples and biological/conservation views of introduced vertebrates are hampering biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management efforts, has highlighted the importance of these interdisciplinary approaches and multiple perspectives to resolve ecological or management problems.