Justin Brashares, Professor

Closed (1) Environmental Impacts of Cannabis Legalization

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

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 up to eight interdisciplinary students interested in environmental science, policy, ecology, and geography to assist with mapping, initial camera trap photo sorting, and policy review.

There are three different URAP roles for this project. Students will be assigned to one or two of the following roles based on preference and/or experience.

1) 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 and may assist with land use change analysis in GIS.

2) The student will sort camera trap photos and identify wildlife within them, and compare results to automatic classifications.

3) The student will conduct a policy review of cannabis legalization in Oregon and California and collect background information on local 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: Depending on the URAP role, experience in one of these three categories preferred: 1) previous experience with Google Earth and Excel, 2) experience identifying medium to large mammals, 3) good writing skills and experience reading/interpreting policy documents. All students must have attention to detail and patience with repetitive tasks. Students will be expected to work independently.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Closed (2) Hunting and cultural dimensions of the bearded pig in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2018 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2019.

The eminence of the bearded pig in Borneo’s social fabric stems from the economic, social, and cultural dimensions of hunting, which can be among the most important institutions in small-scale societies, particularly those that are nomadic or semi-nomadic. In terms of livelihood provision, the bearded pig is of great dietary significance, accounting for 54-97% of wild meat consumed in non-Muslim rural areas of Borneo. In addition to the final provision of protein, a hunting event includes searching for prey, pursuing one or more animals, dispatching animal(s), butchering, transporting meat, distributing meat among households, and communicating before, during, and after the hunt. The sheer number of physical, cultural, and ecological links involved is staggering. Indeed, Laughlin calls hunting “the master behaviour pattern of the human species…which puts motion and direction into the diagram of [humankind's] morphology, technology, social organization, and ecological relations.” As a result of its close relationship with human communities through hunting traditions, the bearded pig has been termed a ‘cultural keystone species’ for Borneo’s people.

We will aim to develop a framework for an interview study to address the following questions:

1. In what ways do indigenous communities, workers in rural oil palm plantations, and urban residents understand the bearded pig as a ‘cultural keystone species’ in Borneo?

2. What are some of the barriers and opportunities for bearded pig conservation given cultural understandings of hunting for subsistence, sport, and pest control?

The student's role will be to conduct a background literature review of hunting culture in Borneo and other select contexts in the tropics. This review will inform a new interview-based study on the cultural dimensions of bearded pig hunting in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. The final product of the student's work, in collaboration with PhD candidate David Kurz, will be submission of an Institutional Review Board proposal for project approval, as well as an access license application to the Sabah Biodiversity Council.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: David Kurz, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Interested students should have a passion for understanding complex links between human and natural systems. Experience with interview studies and/or coursework in the social sciences is helpful but not required. Students will be expected to skim and read a large number of scientific studies and concisely distill notes into a spreadsheet. Strong communication skills are preferred.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

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 2018 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2019.

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/

Closed (4) Multidisciplinary Mapping: Human-carnivore conflict and carnivore movement in Rift Valley, Kenya

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

Human-carnivore conflict is an ongoing critical issue around the world. In East Africa, instances of human-carnivore conflict are rising with increases in land subdivision, development, and agro-pastoral settlement in historical wildlife dispersal areas. This dynamic of rising habitat fragmentation, loss of habitat, and consequently increasing rates of conflict is prevalent in the wildlife dispersal areas connecting Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya with the nearby Mau Forest, Eburru Forest, and Lake Elmenteita regions.

This study incorporates remote sensing, GPS and camera trap data, and community participatory mapping to improve our understanding of landscape permeability for large carnivores, the dynamics of human-carnivore conflict and risk perception, and the intersection between human and carnivore resource needs. Using these methods, we address the following questions:

1) What are the driving spatial and social correlates in carnivore tolerance and how carnivore conflict risk is perceived?
2) Do verified instances of human-carnivore conflict differ from perceived conflict, and what are the driving spatial factors in these differences?
3) How do dense settlements and activity, fences, and seasonal fluctuations in landscape permeability influence the movements of spotted hyena (heavily implicated in human-carnivore conflict)?

Using multidisciplinary spatial methods will help us to contribute to our theoretical understanding of social and spatial factors influencing human-carnivore conflict, risk perception, and carnivore movement ecology in developed landscapes, while providing insight into the effectiveness of multidisciplinary and participatory methods for conservation.

We are seeking 2-4 students to assist with various tasks related to this project.

The primary set of tasks will be related to the community participatory mapping aspect of the research project. Tasks will include digitizing participatory maps, creating shapefiles from digitized maps, incorporating demographic and interview data into attribute tables associated with shapefiles, and conducting preliminary descriptive spatial analyses.

Other secondary tasks may include sorting and reviewing camera trap images (from cameras located on the national park fence), recording wildlife sightings and carnivore movements in an excel spreadsheet, conducting preliminary analyses on camera trap images, and remote sensing classification of seasonal land cover in the region.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Christine Wilkinson, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: Applicants should be interested in the social aspects of wildlife conservation, and interested in wildlife ecology and movement. Applicants should also have an excitement to learn about multidisciplinary and participatory methods. Required skills: Applicants should have competence in Microsoft Excel, some experience with the basics of ArcGIS/ArcMap (simple navigation abilities through the software is enough), an ability to work independently, a keen eye for detail, and patience with repetitive tasks. Desirable additional skills: Experience with art, tracing, or other activities that require a very steady hand is a plus. Applicants must not be colorblind.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated