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Sandler International Undergraduate Assistantship – Apply by Oct 4

by Maya J. Sze on September 22, 2021

Agricultural intensification is rapidly increasing in many tropical countries, exceeding 80% of landcover in some areas where forests were historically widespread. In Latin America, habitat conversion is 3x the global rate with agricultural and ranching expansion accounting for 70% of conversion. With tropical forests supporting roughly 70% of plant and animal species worldwide, deforestation remains one of the greatest threats to biodiversity.

Agroecology is one way to preserve tropical biodiversity by increasing both high-quality habitat and dispersal corridors. Such is the case for shade-grown coffee, which has been shown to have higher levels of avian diversity and abundance and support more pollinator guilds. Increased levels of bird and bee diversity in turn provide more effective ecosystem services, such as pest suppression and pollination. However, the extent to which ecosystem services are provided largely depends on the species ability to move throughout the landscape. Understanding how farm composition changes habitat specificity or behavior (e.g., response to habitat boundaries) could provide an important perspective on how to manage farms to promote service providing species.

The overarching aim of this phase of our project is to quantify bird and bee richness, abundance, and document movement patterns across coffee farms. In doing so, we will work towards our longer-term goal of integrating service providing species into farm management decision.

The undergraduate assistant will work closely with graduate students and professors in the Biology Department to collect data from multiple coffee farms, ensure that data quality and standards are met, and gain experience implementing scientific methods.

See the attached document for information about how to apply.

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