My dissertation research on the ecological outcomes of cannabis land use addressed some of the major conservation themes that motivate my work — how can we coexist with wildlife at multiple scales, from individual interactions all the way to landscapes?
In this case, my work centered on rural outdoor cannabis producing regions in the West, but has applications to many other conservation topics and places, for example: land use change from wildfire, agricultural frontiers in other regions, or wildlife response to exurban development.
Wildlife response to disturbance
I research wildlife response to cannabis production on small scale outdoor farms on private land. This helps us identify potential impacts from cannabis production in rural areas. I also use an experimental approach to study the effects of light and noise disturbance on multi-taxa wildlife, in order to understand and isolate some of the mechanisms by which cannabis production may impact animal communities. For this work, I use techniques from wildlife monitoring, animal behavior, and community ecology.
Key collaborators: Dr. Justin Brashares (advisor), Dr. Van Butsic & Dr. Mary Power (dissertation committee), Hopland Research and Extension Center (especially Alison Smith) and Angelo Coast Range Reserve, Ben Goldstein, Kendall Calhoun, Dr. Lindsey Rich, Dr. Chris Schell, and other current and future co-authors (see publications). Thank you to the many undergraduates who have contributed to this project via the URAP and SPUR programs at UC Berkeley.
Land use drivers and potential consequences
My research on cannabis land use and its drivers examines the spatial patterns of where cannabis is distributed, how it has expanded with legalization, and what social and ecological drivers influence that distribution. This work is important for communities that are trying to understand the dynamics of cannabis landscapes, or for crafting appropriate regulation or educational outreach. My approach mainly combines land system sciences, landscape ecology, and social sciences.
For more information, check out our interactive mapping tool for visualizing cannabis landcapes, as well as this recent publication.
Key collaborators: Dr. Justin Brashares (advisor), Dr. Van Butsic & Dr. Mary Power (dissertation committee), Dr. Hekia Bodwitch & many others from the Cannabis Research Center, Christopher Choi & many other co-authors (see publications). Thank you to the many undergraduates who have contributed to this project via the URAP and SPUR programs at UC Berkeley, as well as to the GIF for providing computing space.
Other research collaborations
As a graduate student in the Brashares Lab, which is part of the Environmental Science, Policy, & Management Department at UC Berkeley, collaboration is a key part of what we do. Some of the major themes of the collaborative projects I have been or am currently involved in include wildfire risk, human-wildlife conflict, modeling interactive disturbance effects on wildlife population dynamics, reviewing occupancy modeling approaches, and developing a course on anti-racism in environmental science for our college.