Justin Brashares, Professor

Open (1) Environmental Impacts of Human Development and Urbanization of Cannabis

Open. Apprentices needed for the spring semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before February 5th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning January 9th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 AM.

Increasing human development and urbanization in rural areas creates conflict with wildlife. Understanding the spatial components of both human practices and environmental responses can shed light on the underlying ecological processes.

In Southern Oregon, the effects of cannabis legalization has drastically altered rural livelihoods and land use. In order to understand the effects of policy frameworks on the environment, predict future outcomes, and manage grows sustainably, more research is needed on the land use associated with cannabis. This project uses remotely sensed imagery, paired with grower surveys and ecological field research, to understand the impact of this rapidly changing industry on the environment and local ecology.

We are seeking one or two interdisciplinary students interested in environmental science, policy, ecology, and geography to assist with mapping and literature review.

The student will assist with mapping and analysis of land use change and environmental impacts of the cannabis industry in Southern Oregon. The student will digitize grows in Google Earth, analyze land use change over time in GIS and R, and collect background information on the policies and zoning affecting land use.

The student will train with project scientists and then work independently.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Phoebe Parker-Shames, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Previous experience with GIS preferred. Must have attention to detail and patience with repetitive tasks.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Closed (2) Ecology and Conservation of the Endangered Giant Kangaroo Rat in Central California

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2018.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument, located in the southern San Joaquin Valley of California, is the largest (810 km2) of the few remaining San Joaquin grassland ecosystem remnants and is a hotspot of species endangerment. Many of the imperiled species in the San Joaquin Valley occur in the Carrizo. The federally endangered giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) is a keystone species in this system; it modifies the soil extensively with burrow systems and is important prey for many predators, such as the federally endangered San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica). 

Our group is leading a long-term study of the giant kangaroo rat with the goals to: 1) determine how livestock grazing directly and indirectly affects native species in the Carrizo, especially giant kangaroo rats, 2) determine how giant kangaroo rats affect other species of plants and animals in their community, and 3) understand impacts of climate change on vegetation and giant kangaroo rats. 



Work will include data entry and basic processing of samples (drying and weighing, etc) and invertebrate identification.

URAPs may also be assigned to data management and review and GIS mapping.




Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Rachel Endicott

Qualifications: We seek motivated students who are interested in Wildlife Ecology and eager to learn! Skills required: Interest in wildlife ecology. Comfortable performing repetitive tasks initiated towards the goal of data production. Attention to detail and capacity to execute tasks carefully. Willingness to learn all aspects of a research project and ability to work independently. Preferred: Background in ecology, animal behavior, or environmental science preferred. Familiarity with basic laboratory equipment such as digital scales is helpful but not required. Experience with database software such as Access and Excel also are helpful but not required In your response, please indicate if you are interested in the Labor Day field trip.

Weekly Hours: 6-9 hrs

Related website: https://nature.berkeley.edu/BrasharesGroup/

Closed (3) Wildlife ecology in human dominated landscapes: deer and other large mammals in Mendocino County

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2018.

In an era so altered by human activity it has been dubbed the Anthropocene, scientists have a surprisingly poor understanding of the ecology of human-dominated landscapes. The Brashares lab is conducting research at the Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) in Mendocino County to study how a wildlife community of deer and their predators (mountain lions, bears, and coyotes) respond to human landscape features and activities. In collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, we are placing special emphasis on an in-depth study of the deer population of HREC. Although deer populations are declining statewide, we lack inexpensive, non-invasive methods for monitoring deer densities.

To monitor diversity, abundance, movement, and behavior of deer and other large mammals, our research group has deployed an array of motion-activated “camera traps” that take photos and videos of wildlife at HREC. We plan to deploy GPS collars on large mammals later this year, to monitor community-level responses to anthropogenic disturbances like fences, hunting, farming, and ranching and to better understand deer habitat use. We are also beginning a genetic mark-recapture study to estimate deer populations, using deer trail transects to collect fecal samples for DNA extraction.

We are seeking 1-2 students to assist us with various tasks associated with various research tasks related to the HREC project.

Primarily, the URAP apprentices will work on the ongoing camera trap assessment of Hopland's large mammal community. The majority of the work will be independent classification of images from camera traps. There will also be opportunities for fieldwork at Hopland, which is a 2 hour drive from campus. There may be additional opportunities for genetic labwork on campus, if students are interested.

Tasks include, but are not limited to: reviewing photos and videos from camera traps and entering data into spreadsheets; analyzing camera trap data to summarize species presence; extracting deer DNA from fecal samples and genotyping samples to identify individuals; and traveling to Hopland with other team members to set up and maintain camera traps, collect fecal samples, and participate in other research related to collaring and wildlife research.

The student(s) will join an existing research team of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty and participate in regular project meetings. This project will give the student a chance to engage in a larger research project on wildlife management in California, with potential opportunity for future involvement in other aspects of the research program.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Alex McInturff, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Applicants should have a keen interest in wildlife ecology and in conservation of California's landscapes. Relevant majors or coursework (ex. ESPM 114) are preferred but not required. Applicants should be competent in Microsoft Excel, be able to work independently with patience and diligence, and pay close attention to detail. Experience with data entry and data management preferred. Experience with R analysis software would be a plus, but is not a requirement.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Related website: http://nature.berkeley.edu/BrasharesGroup/
Related website: http://hrec.ucanr.edu/

Open (4) Human Wildlife Conflict: Black Bear behavior and ecology

Open. Apprentices needed for the spring semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before February 5th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning January 9th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, January 23rd at 8 AM.

Increasing human development and urbanization in rural areas creates conflict with wildlife. Understanding the spatial components of both human practices and environmental responses can shed light on the underlying ecological processes.

In the Lake Tahoe region of California, urban/wild American Black Bears navigate landscapes altered by humans. This project looks at movement and behavior data to identify highway crossings, den selection, and habitat preferences, using GIS mapping and critter cam footage.

We are seeking three interdisciplinary students interested in environmental science, ecology, animal behavior, and geography to assist with this mapping, analysis, and literature review.


The student will use GIS to map bear highway crossings and den selection, and conduct behavioral analyses of camera trap data to identify habitat use and behavioral modes of bears. The student will also assist with literature searches. Additionally, the student will work in R to do statistical analyses on ecological questions for example: hibernation patterns, winter activity, avoidance of artificial light etc.

The student will be instructed by project scientists and then work independently and meet in person once per week. This may also require cooperation with other URAPs.


Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Mario Klip, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Previous experience with GIS. Experience in R is required, or must have a strong drive to learn. Must have attention to detail and be able to work independently, problem solve and interested in the topic.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated