CenTREAD Tropical Grants

CenTREAD annually provides small Tropical Research Grants for UCSC graduate students to conduct field research in the tropics. We particularly aim to support students in the early phases of their research. We also provide support to UCSC graduate students to participate in courses from the Organization for Tropical Studies, for special opportunities, events, or needs, and for graduate students and professionals from tropical countries to participate in UCSC-based graduate training.

Support for the CenTREAD Tropical Research Grants is provided by the Pepper-Giberson Chair funds and a generous gift from the Jane Carver Foundation. For more information, contact co-directors Karen Holl or Gregory Gilbert.


CenTREAD Tropical Research Grants Recipients
Applications for 2013 Grants will accepted in April 2013

2012 Tropical Research Grants
Jonathan Eldon (Environmental Studies) Sustainability, stress, and crisis: a case study in remote Melanesia
Alexis Jackson(Ecology & Evolutionary Biology) Conservation genetics of leopard grouper in the Gulf of California
Pierre du Plessis(Anthropology) Tracking knowledge: animal tracking and conservation research in the Kalahari
Anneke Janzen (Anthropology) Mobility and herd management among early pastoralists in East Africa

2011 Tropical Research Grants
Troy Crowder (History) Creeping Blight: A History of Tropical Agriculture and Pandemic Disease, 1850 – 2000
Justin Cummings(Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Determining factors that influence invasion success in degraded agricultural lands in Panama
Colin Hoag(Anthropology) Livelihoods in the balance: examining intersections of science, society, and environment in southern Africa
Daniella Schweizer (Environmental Studies) Phylogenetic ecology applied to tropical forest restoration
Anthony Vasquez (Anthropology) Tracking sustainable land management practices in Colombia from contact into the present

2010 Tropical Research Grants
Justin Cummings(Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Determining Factors that Influence Invasion Success in Degraded Agricultural Lands in Panama
Adam French
(Environmental Studies) Water is Life: Climate Change, Globalization, and Adaptive Governance in the Peruvian Andes
Susanna Honig(Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Seabirds to reefs: Assessing cross-ecosystem subsidies in imperiled food webs
Christian Palmer(Anthropology) Stories about nature: environmental narratives in Northeastern Brazil.
Angela Quiros(Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Connecting terrestrial and marine protection at the coastal interface
Nishita Trisal (Anthropology) Aluminum Encounters: Diasporic Capital and Corporate Social Responsibility in Orissa, India

2009 Tropical Research Grants
Getachew Eshete Tadesse(Environmental Studies) Reconstructing trends of degradation in semi-arid landscapes in Southwestersn Ethiopia
Micha Rahder(Anthropology) Conservation science, knowledge and power in the Petén, Guatemala

2008 Tropical Research Grants
Brian Dowd (Environmental Studies) A political economy of cotton production in Burkina Faso
Teresa Kurtak(Anthropology) Africa’s Lost Crops
Carlo Moreno(Environmental Studies) Implementing successful conservation biological control strategies in tropical agroecosystems: A matter of scale
Carla Takaki(Anthropology) Giving the Nation: Japanese Environmental Philanthropy in Indonesia
Yiwei Wang(Environmental Studies) Analyzing the effectiveness of translocation projects for conserving the endangered bridled nailtail wallaby
Kathleen Hilimire(Environmental Studies) Self-sufficient Agriculture: Integration of Crops and LIvestock in Cuba
Leah Samberg(Environmental Studies) Patterns of diversity in an Ethiopian Highland agroecosystem
Ana Spalding(Environmental Studies) Demographic and landscape change, and marine conservation in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago


2007 Tropical Research Grants
Nick Babin (Environmental Studies) Smallholder agriculture persistence and adaptation
Martha Bonilla (Environmental Studies) Writing fellowship. Forest recovery after human and natural disturbances
Brian Dowd (Environmental Studies) Governance-related agricultural reforms in Burkina Faso and Mali
Brian Emerson(Environmental Studies) Alternative food networks in the Mexican countryside
Melissa Foley (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Mangrove and coral reef conservation in Belize
Kathleen Hilimire (Environmental Studies) Coping with the global coffee crisis: a Central American comparative pilot study
Brian Petersen (Environmental Studies) Assessing Australia’s Alps to Atherton Conservation Corridor Project
Ana Spalding (Environmental Studies) Marine environment perceptions and management in Bocas del Toro


2006 Tropical Research Grants
Nicholas Babin (Environmental Studies) Land-use and livelihood change - Exploring Field Sites
Blair McLaughlin (Environmental Studies) Impacts of composting toilets in agricultura and reforestation in Haiti
Brooke Crowley
(Earth Science) The Future of Madagascar’s Lemurs: Coping with Change
Ana Spalding (Environmental Studies) Strengthening ongoing conservation efforts in the Pearl Islands Archipelago, Republic of Panama

2005 Tropical Research Grants
Jeremy Campbell (Anthropology) Paving the Soy Frontier: The Return of a Highway in the Brazilian Amazon
Brian Dowd (Environmental Studies) Cotton and West African agroecosystems: How different training schemes affect soil fertility outcomes
Tim Krupnik (Environmental Studies) From Integrated Pest Management to Integrated Biodiversity Management: Food Web Interactions, Habitat Manipulation and Biological Control in Sri Lankan Rice Ecosystems
Julie Jedlicka (Environmental Studies) Approaching the Coffee Crisis: Linking Conservation and Social Justice

2004 Tropical Research Grants
Bárbara Ayala (Environmental Studies) Effects of climatic variation on seed mortality due to pathogen infection in a tropical forest
James Barsimantov (Environmental Studies) Assessing the Impacts of Economic Reform on Mexico’s Forests and the Effectiveness of Community Forest Management Initiatives
Martha Bonilla (Environmental Studies) Vegetation succession in an agriculture-forest land mosaic in Mexico.
Rebecca Cole (Environmental Studies) Project development in Tropical Forest Restoration and Integration with Farming Systems.
Jennifer O’Leary(Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Searching for Sustainable Solutions for Declining Stocks: Collaboration with the Mexican Cooperative Abalone Fishery.
Jessica Roy (Sociology) Environmental Degradation, Poverty and Access to Water in the Nyando Basin, Kenya.

2003 Tropical Research Grants
Hoyt Peckham, (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Reducing bykill of the endangered North Pacific Loggerhead Turtule through ecological research and community networks
Dorothy Overpeck(Environmental Studies) Legumes, food security, and soil quality for resource-poor Malawian farmers
Roseann Cohen(Environmental Studies) Constructing landscapes: the culture, politics and agroecology of homegardens

2012 Tropical Research Grants
Alexis Jackson (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology) Conservation genetics of leopard grouper in the Gulf of California

Leopard grouper (Mycteroperca rosacea) are important top predators in the rocky reef ecosystem, and one of the primary grouper species targeted by small-scale fisheries in the coastal waters off Mexico. They have experienced a 50% decrease in biomass over the past 10 years due to targeted fishing of spawning aggregations.  Spawning aggregations consist of up to several hundred individuals, and form at the same times and places each year.  The spatial and temporal predictability of aggregations allow fishermen to aggressively exploit stocks to the point of local extinction.  My dissertation work investigates genetic connectivity of Leopard grouper populations throughout its geographic range.  I extract, amplify and analyze DNA from tissue samples to investigate the demographic history of Leopard grouper and to evaluate the impact of current conservation efforts in the Gulf of California on restoring depleted stocks.

With the support of a 2012 CenTread grant I was able to conduct a three-week field season to Mexico to obtain tissue samples of Leopard grouper. Funds from CenTread assisted with the cost of room and board and transportation to and from Mexico. Until this past field season, I had only collected samples from the Gulf of California, where the species is most abundant. No one has studied populations of Leopard grouper in the Pacific Ocean, and their potential role in replenishing stocks
in the Gulf of California.  While in Mexico I interacted with fishermen in Adolfo Lopez Mateos, San Carlos and Mazatlan, as well as with Dr. Hoyt Peckham (head of the NGO Grupo Tortuguero).  Tissue samples were collected directly from fishermen at harbors.  Tissue samples were taken from the pectoral fin and each fish was measured to in order to later determine the average age of fish being caught by fishermen.

Pierre Du Plessis (Anthropology) Tracking knowledge: animal tracking and conservation research in the Kalahari

During the summer of 2012 I went to the Kgalgadi and Ghanzi districts in Botswana to conduct preliminary research for my dissertation focusing on human-nonhuman relations and environmental interactions in the Kalahari Desert. I am investigating ways that people know how to track animals and how this knowledge involves social relationships and understandings of nonhumans as actors in shared worlds. I am interested in how these human-nonhuman relationships are incorporated into new applications of tracking knowledge. The skilled practice of tracking animals has come to be seen by some environmental scientists as a valuable means to collect data and involve local inhabitants in conservation research. Locating my research in and around wildlife conservation projects that incorporate local communities, I explore the points where diverse knowledges intersect how these knowledges are mobilized, and the various ways that human-nonhuman relations are reflected in this work. These sites where diverse knowledge practices are employed together - those of animal trackers, environmental scientists, plants and animals may offer us insights into ways that knowledges, or knowledge practices, align and realign themselves in moments of collaborative environmental interaction between humans, and also nonhumans.

With the support of CenTREAD I travelled to five remote settlements in the western Kalahari to re-establish contract with trackers I worked with during my Master’s research. I used this time to conduct interviews with these interlocutors about their knowledge of tracking animals, join them in tracking activities, and locate new conservation research projects employing trackers to collect data. This preliminary research has inspired me to broaden my conceptualization of tracking to consider how tracking knowledge involves co-productive and generative processes whereby nonhumans – plants and animals – are also tracking human activity. This has added depth to my consideration of nonhuman agency and how they are involved with humans in the production of landscapes through their relationships with each other. I am extremely grateful to CenTREAD for their generous support as it has allowed me to further the development of my dissertation project.
Jonathan Eldon (Environmental Studies) Sustainability, stress, and crisis: a case study in remote Melanesia

My dissertation research is focused on the Solomon Islands, a group of over 300 inhabited islands in the SW Pacific near Papua New Guinea. These islands contain approximately half a million people, the vast majority of whom live in very rural conditions and have only superficial contact with the rest of the world or even neighboring islands. Products that are taken for granted in most of world, such as agrochemicals and imported food, are only now beginning to be available in this country and can only found near the few major ports. The level of remoteness in isolated rural areas is such that some villages practice traditional forms of ancestral worship by default, as they have never been introduced to any alternative.

The traditional agricultural practice in the Solomon Islands is a simple form of shifting agriculture, in which small patches are forest are cleared and cropped intensively for 1-3 years until the soil nutrients are exhausted, then left in unmanaged fallow for 15+ years before being cleared again. Such low-stress agro-ecosystems that depend on long fallows are still common, but some areas are now

supporting much higher population densities focused around ports, schools, and markets, by reducing the fallow length to as little as 6 months. These areas are suffering from clear agricultural and ecological stress, including reduced yields and higher pest and disease damage. My original research interest was to study the ecological processes underlying repeated soil regeneration under the shifting system and across this gradient of stress.

I first visited the country in 2011 and with the help of CenTREAD funding made a return trip in the summer of 2012. During this trip it became very clear that agro-ecological research cannot be done in isolation, but must also take into account larger socio-economic issues, such as income and diet, and must be done in close association with local farmers. With the aid of several partner groups in the Solomon Islands, I was able to conduct a 2 week pilot study that sought to assess comprehensive food security conditions across this gradient of agro-ecological stress through a combination of household surveys, above-ground ecological analysis, and soil sampling. As a result of our success with this pilot study, my partners and I are now planning a larger and improved food security survey and are developing methods to introduce alternative agricultural practices to address specific observed needs in high stress areas.

2011 Tropical Research Grants
Colin Hoag (Anthropology) Livelihoods in the balance: examining intersections of science, society, and environment in southern Africa

During the summer of 2011, I conducted one month of preliminary fieldwork for my dissertation research on the social and environmental impacts of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), a multi-phase, multi-billion dollar effort to transfer water from the mountains of Lesotho to the arid industrial areas around Johannesburg. With little domestic industry in Lesotho, people there have for decades relied on remittances from family members working in South Africa. But in recent years this employment has dried up, and the government of Lesotho has hung its hopes on water export as a path to economic development. My work asks what water means for people in Lesotho at this precarious moment in the country’s history, how water is shaping local politics and livelihoods, and what the LHWP says about the state of water nationalization and commoditization globally.

While in Lesotho, I established contact with a range of LHWP stakeholders: academics, activists, community members, scientists, LHWP project staff, and government

officials. In addition to spending time in the capitol, Maseru, where many of these individuals are stationed, I also visited the LHWP project areas and conducted a budget for my future year-long study. This preliminary fieldwork has been crucial to furthering my dissertation project, and I am extremely grateful for CenTREAD’s generous support.
2010 Tropical Research Grants
Justin Cummings (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Determining Factors that Influence Invasion Success in Degraded Agricultural Lands in Panama

In 2010 I was one of the recipients of the CenTREAD Tropical Research Grants. My dissertation work is being conducted in Panama and focuses on evaluating characteristics of native tree species that make them good competitors against the exotic grass pest Saccharum spontaneum. Funds from this award were used primarily facilitate travel between California and Panama. Remaining funds were used to help offset the costs associated with station fees and vehicle use to access field sites.

Work during this field season was conducted in single species 9 x 12 meter tree plots pertaining to the PRORENA reforestation project. The projects designed during this field season were based on data collected in 2009, which suggested that at low understory light intensities (understory light < 20%) Saccharm performed worse when it occurred in the understory of native legume trees than under non-legume trees.

Justin Cummings

During this field season my work focused on two specific projects. For the first project I extracted nutrients from soil cores collected across the PRORENA single species tree plots look at whether nutrient availability influenced the persistence of the exotic grass Saccharum. For the second project I took cuttings of Saccharum, placed them individually in bags containing potting soil, and grew bagged individuals of Saccharum in the understory of 18 plots for 2 months. This allowed me to isolate Saccharum from below ground competition to see whether the impact of above ground factors differed across plots of legume and non-legume overstory trees. This data will help us to determine whether certain traits of species make them better at outcompeting with exotic grasses, and will help inform the choice of species to use during tropical forest restoration.

Susanna Honig (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Seabirds to reefs: Assessing cross-ecosystem subsidies in imperiled food webs

Seabirds and coral reefs are two of the world’s most threatened ecological communities, and they co-occur on tropical islands. Nutrient-rich seabird guano has been shown to dramatically change the community structure of recipient terrestrial and freshwater communities near seabird colonies, but the impact of seabird-derived nutrients on nearshore marine systems has not been established. I traveled to Heron Island, Australia in order to investigate whether or not nutrients originating from seabirds on the island could be traced in algal tissue and polychaete tissue in the surrounding reef. Heron island is a small coral cay on the Southern Great Barrier Reef home to 134,000 wedge tailed shearwaters and black noddies. I collected guano, algae, and polychaete samples and I am currently awaiting their shipment from Australia to California in order to be analyzed for their δ15N content with stable isotope analysis. The CenTREAD 2010 research grant will allow me to pay for processing and analyzing these samples. Tracing nutrients to their source in coral reefs is a vital first step in understanding how seabirds may impact community structure in these biodiverse, threatened ecosystems.

Susanna Honig
Adam French (Environmental Studies) Water is Life: Climate Change, Globalization, and Adaptive Governance in the Peruvian Andes

With the support of a 2010 CenTREAD Tropical Research Grant, I was able to spend the month of July in the Callejón de Huaylas in the Ancash Department of Perú. During this time, I reconnected with community leaders and water managers in my research sites, strengthened relationships with state officials in the National Water Authority, and made logistical arrangements for my upcoming year of dissertation fieldwork. In this month, I also continued to assist in the collection of hydrological and meteorological data as part of a multi-institutional, collaborative research project focused on pro-glacial hydrology and human vulnerability in the Cordillera Blanca—the most extensively glaciated mountain range in the Tropics. As the summer field season is the only time that our team—consisting of geographers, glaciologists, and hydrologists from UCSC, the Ohio State University-Byrd Polar Research Center, and McGill University—has to work together in-person each year, this was an important opportunity for moving our research agenda forward (and sharing lots of pollo a la brasa). Many thanks to CenTREAD’s generous support of these activities!

Adam French

Nashita Trisal (Anthropology) Aluminum Encounters: Diasporic Capital and Corporate Social Responsibility in Orissa, India

The specter of bauxite mining haunted my pilot field project in the eastern Indian state of Orissa during September 2010. Though I had initially imagined that the mining controversy that had initially drawn me to the region would be the focus of my research, I soon realized that the topic was too controversial and perhaps even dangerous to address explicitly. Moreover, the day I arrived in the field was the day the Supreme Court of India overturned the mining company’s permit to conduct the project. With this decision, a five-year-long advocacy effort against the company, led by non-government organizations and local indigenous leaders, seemed to have come to a close.

Though I re-formulated my questions, then, to address topics of livelihood, money, and credit/debt, the issue of mining continued to loom large. There was talk of the company re-routing the project to another part of the state or to Western India, reminding those celebrating this victory that lax regulations and attenuated media attention elsewhere meant further battles lay ahead. Indeed, India today faces tremendous questions about environmental regulation, economic development, and citizen rights over natural resources. And so long as I continue to work in this region, and in rural India more generally, questions of the environment, forests, and resource rights will always remain central to my research.

Nashita Trisal
Christian Palmer (Anthropology) Stories about nature: environmental narratives in Northeastern Brazil.

During my summer research in Southern Bahia, Brazil I made contact with the professors and researchers in the programs in Tourism and Culture and the Environment and Regional Development at the Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz. By strengthening my connection to academic and research institutions in the region I am able to make sure that the results of my research can remain in the region and benefit local conservation initiatives. I also spent a significant amount of time connecting with local Non-Governmental Organizations in Itacare, including the Living Forest Institute, the Socio-Environmental Research Institute of the Bahia, the Itacare Tourism Institute, and the Itacare Surfing Association. Meeting with and learning about the history of these diverse organizations was helpful in understanding the changing ways people are thinking about the environment and organizing themselves to influence how development happens as the local economy changes from one based around agriculture and fishing to an economy built on tourism and conservation.

During my summer research I learned about some large changes looming in the region, including plans to build

christian palmer

a six-star hotel, a large shipping port, and an international airport. Each of these changes in indicative of the rapid economic growth happening in Brazil right now and the increasing need to understand the changing ways the environment is considered during these developments. I was also able to examine how locals are able to insert themselves into the changing tourist economy, using traditional ethnoecological knowledge to work growing native trees for reforestation or taking tourists on guided canoes trips. While everyone talked a lot about eco-tourism and sustainability, I also observed some of the environmental impacts associated with increasing tourism including trash disposal, an inadequate municipal sewage system, and unregulated urban expansion. I'm excited to return to Itacare next year to continue to research how the emerging tourist economy influences how people interact with and understand the environment.

Angela Quiros (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Connecting terrestrial and marine protection at the coastal interface
With the CenTREAD grant, I was able to visit my fieldsite in Bolinao, Philippines in April, 2010. Bolinao is the site of the University of the Philippine’s Marine Science Institute and the Bolinao Seagrass Marine Reserve. During this visit, I joined seagrass expert, Dr. Miguel Fortes of the University of the Philippines and his team on the delineation of four seagrass transects along a nutrient gradient ranging from the middle of several fish pens towards the Bolinao Seagrass Marine Reserve. I collected samples of seagrass, algae, invertebrates and sediment for a foodweb analysis using isotopes of 13C and 15N to show how nutrients from the fish pens affected the seagrass community. I also looked at the effects of a giant clam nursery on the species diversity and percent cover on the adjacent seagrass bed and collected seagrass samples from this second site for isotopic analysis. I will analyze all these samples at the UCSC Stable Isotopes laboratory in the summer of 2010. Angela Quiros

2009 Tropical Research Grants

Getachew Eshete (Environmental Studies) Woody plant biodiversity patterns and land use and land cover changes in Afromontane forests, Ethiopia

With CENTREAD support, I traveled to southern Ethiopia region during the summer of 2009 to begin my dissertation work. The region is part of Afromontane ecosystems known for its high endemism and floristic diversity, center of origin and genetic diversity of Coffea arabaica, and the presence of various forest products and high agrobiodiversity. I have identified study sites from two districts and surveyed woody plant biodiversity patterns; and observed deforestation, land use changes including intensification and commercial coffee plantations that influence the distribution and abundance of species in the region. I gained useful insights towards analyzing the role of different land uses in conservation of native species and the role of different conservation and community organizations involved in sustainable forest management of the region. With further ecological work, geospatial analysis and ethnographic studies, I will investigate the drivers and consequences of land use and land cover changes occurred during the last three decades, and associated changes in the abundance and composition of plant species and functional traits that play vital role in ecosystem functioning and services.


The field work allowed me to focus on investigating the relative distribution of various plant traits along natural forests, grazing lands, and agricultural fields in the region. Studies on species and traits vulnerable to fragmentation and land use changes will be useful to prioritize conservation programs on species and ecosystem functions threatened by fragmentation and habitat loss in the region.  
Micha Rahder (Anthropology) Conservation science, knowledge and power in the Petén, Guatemala

During the summer of 2009, I travelled to the Petén, Guatemala, to conduct preliminary fieldwork for my dissertation research focused on the intersections of science, conservation, and local livelihoods in the vast Maya Biosphere Reserve. The reserve, once the site of the classic Mayan civilization, is now a complex tangle of lowland tropical jungle, legal community forestry concessions and areas zoned for sustainable agriculture, and illegal agricultural and cattle ranching communities. My research focuses on the role of scientific knowledge in understanding and managing this reserve, and how scientific and local knowledges intersect in community-level conservation and development decisions.

Over the course of six weeks, I conducted participant observation and interviews with a variety of conservation and development NGOs working in the region, following NGO staff as they visited several communities inside the reserve to meet and work on local projects. These activities led me to the reserve's Center for Ecological Monitoring and Evaluation, whose production of remote sensing and GIS-based scientific knowledge of the reserve have since become a key focus of my project. This preliminary fieldwork has been incredibly valuable in shaping my dissertation research questions and has allowed me to begin to explore aspects of conservation and development in the Petén that would not have been possible without the generous support of CenTREAD.



2008 Tropical Research Grants

Teresa Kurtak (Anthropology) Africa’s Lost Crops

With the help of CenTread, Teresa Kurtak, a graduate student in the Social Documentation program, spent the summer in Burkina Faso and Mali doing research and gathering material for a documentary film project. Kurtak filmed interviews with University and NGO experts, village and city cooks, as well as farmers about the role of traditional and threatened food crops in their day to day lives. Subsaharan West Africa, known before colonial times as a region rich in agriculture, was alluring to Europe for this very reason. Yet today, the region as well as the entirety of the African continent, have become indelibly linked in the Western conscience with hunger, famine, and food insecurity. Kurtak's research focuses on what the National Research Council calls "Lost Crops"- the 3000 plus cultivated plants of the region- what has happened to them? What place do they have in food security? Why do discussions of food security make little to almost no mention of these foods that the region has relied on for thousands of years? … and what do traditional food crops have to offer in terms building sustainable regional food security? To learn more about Teresa’s Project, tentatively titled “La Vie Chère”, visit www.foodincrisis.org.

Photo: Fonio growing in the Dogon region of Mali. Fonio is tiny grain which has had a big staying power. While extremely challenging to harvest and process, and despite relatively no attention from plant breeders, government, or development agencies (until recently) Farmers conticue to grow this grain because for a myriad of reasons: it produces even under the harshest conditions with little fertility while maiz (which receives huge amounts of government and research support) requires fertilizer and longer growing season, it grows quickly and can be double cropped, it is extremely nutritionally dense compared to other grains, and people love the taste. Fonio today has also retained notoriety in regional cuisine for its wonderful flavor and it is not unusual to find it on the menus of fancy restaurants.


Leah Samberg (Environmental Studies) Patterns of diversity in an Ethiopian Highland agroecosystem

Throughout the world, ancient agroecosystems harbor unique pools of landscape, species, and genetic diversity created by millennia of interacting human and environmental forces. In these landscapes, farmers depend on genetic diversity of crop and tree species to meet variable environmental conditions and consumption needs. However, even the most remote of these agroecosystems now face land-use and environmental change, and loss of genetic diversity may reduce their potential for adaptation. We do not have a clear understanding of the ways in which environmental and anthropogenic factors structure populations in these agroecosystems, and this prevents us from effectively assessing their ability to adapt to climate change and land-use intensification.

In my research, I study the distribution of crop genetic diversity in a traditional agroecosystem in a remote mountainous region of southern Ethiopia. Using a combination of landscape genetics and farmer interviews, I am working to develop a more holistic understanding of the forces structure agricultural biodiversity in this system, and the ways in which farmers can work to conserve that diversity.

Leah Samberg

In 2008-2009, CenTREAD funding helped support a seven-month field season in the Gamo highland region.During that time, I traveled around these isolated mountains, almost entirely on foot, and worked with more than 120 farmers in twelve communities. I interviewed farmers about seed exchange and conservation practices, assessed on-farm diversity, and collected plant samples for genetic analysis in the laboratory. During this trip, I also spoke with government and agricultural extension officials, and presented my work at local workshops and universities. This trip made up the most intensive and productive field season of my dissertation research. ____________________________________________
Ana Spalding (Environmental Studies) Demographic and landscape change, and marine conservation in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago

My research interests focus on understanding human-environment relations in the context new forms of migration to Bocas del Toro, Panama. Specifically, I am looking at the social and environmental changes occurring in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, as a result of its rapid growth as a globally important residential and temporary tourist destination.
During the summer/fall of 2008, CenTREAD funding allowed me to begin my dissertation research in Bocas del Toro. In the first few months of my year-long dissertation research, I was able to establish links with local research institutions such as the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Bocas del Toro Research Lab, extremely instrumental in having access to current literature and a safe and functional work environment. I also used this time to explore my new “home” as way to attempt to understand the geography, culture and landscape prior to embarking on focused data gathering efforts.

Ana Spalding
This exploration was extremely helpful in designing an effective research plan, identifying key informants and communities, compiling information on existing social science research in the area, designing and implementing a self-administered anonymous survey to the foreign resident population, and developing a more acute understanding of the complex political and economic history of the once-forgotten Bocas del Toro archipelago. The most important element derived from this exploratory period of my research was becoming aware that my study in fact coincided with a second wave of foreign immigration; the first being the arrival of the United Fruit Company at the turn of the 20th Century. This current residential boom, therefore, represents a similar process of population growth, but in the context of a capitalist global economy. The following year will be used to explore the social and environmental impacts of this new phenomenon in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago.
Carlo Moreno (Environmental Studies) Implementing successful conservation biological control strategies in tropical agroecosystems: A matter of scale

From July 24 to September 7, 2008, I traveled to Venezuela to begin developing a research project focused on agroecology and the role of multiple scales of agrobiodiversity in the regulation of pests. I was in the Andean state of Merida, Venezuela, where I was able to establish contacts with governmental and non-governmental agroecological organizations, such as the Ministerio de Agricultura y Tierras, Instituto de Investigacion Agropecuaria, the IPIAT (Instituto para la Investigacion de Agroecologia Tropical), the Instituto de Ciencias Ambientales y Ecologicas, and the Red de Cooperacion Productiva Integral de la Produccion de la Papa. I conducted interviews with agroecologists at most of these organizations, and through doing so was able to develop a list of communities that employ agroecological principles and incorporate varying spatiotemporal scales of biodiversity in their farms. I thus established contact with potato growers in the municipalities of Rangel and Pueblo Llano that form part of several local and state led agroecological organizations. In exploring these agroecosystems I became aware of the multiple levels of agrobiodiversity inherent in the traditional and conventional production of potatoes in the Venezuelan Andes. Traditional

Carlo Moreno
practices rely on a 7 to 14 year rotation of native varieties of potatoes with wheat, carrot, and fallow growth, creating a mosaic of biodiversity at the landscape and parcel-levels. Conventional potato production on the other hand is characterized by expansive monocultures of a single variety of imported potato. I was able to conduct preliminary interviews with local farmers as to how long they had employed traditional practices, whether or not they had tried conventional production, and ,if so, why had they returned to rotation based agriculture. Through this process I was also able to determine what, if any, connections and/or access they had to local and state led agroecological organizations. I hope to continue conducting interviews within the same communities in the future, as well as establish experiments that will test the influence of multiple spatiotemporal scales of biodiversity on pest regulation.
Kathleen Hilimire (Environmental Studies) Self-sufficient Agriculture: Integration of Crops and Livestock in Cuba

In February 2009, I visited Cuba to study how the integration of crops and livestock is practiced. In the two short weeks I was in Cuba, a fascinating world of urban agriculture, creative use of animal manure, and highly biodiverse farms was revealed. I visited farms in the Viñales region where crops (tomatoes, cabbage, coffee, bananas, pineapple, sugarcane, tobacco, and maize) are grown in diverse systems and integrated with animals (cows, goats, pigs, and chickens) that contribute to weed-control, fertilization, and diverse food production. In the city of Havana, I was hosted by Dr. Fernando Funes Monzote, an agroecologist who studies the integration of crops and cattle on research stations and working farms across the country. Dr. Funes introduced me to an 11-hectare farm in Havana, called Alamar, where highly intensive organic vegetable production is fertilized with worm-composted cow manure. This farm currently imports the manure it uses from dairy operations in the countryside, but plans are underway to introduce 30 cows to this urban farm, allowing for on-site production of fertilizer from start to finish. Alamar provides employment for 150 workers in Havana and prides itself on social sustainability, characterized by a seven-hour work day, access to computer and language classes, and free breakfast and lunch for all workers. Through visiting farms in Viñales and Havana, I gained a practical perspective on the many ways that integration of crops and livestock is practiced. By working with Dr. Funes, I learned about the history of Cuban agriculture and the current state of research on agroecology.

Dr. Funes has worked extensively on practicing farms and at research stations to understand how to maximize land-use-efficiency and crop production through environmentally-friendly and socially-viable agricultural practices. Cuba is known for widespread adoption of organic and semi-organic agricultural practices.

Kathy Hilimire

One such practice is integrating animals and crops on a single farm, which allows for the production of nutrient-rich fertilizer from animal manure and increased milk production, credited to the effect of manure fertilizer’s contribution to more nutritious and abundant forage crop production. Cuban agriculture is based on a low-chemical input model and tends to emphasize self-sufficiency through recycling of nutrients and maximizing biodiversity. Necessity was the mother of invention in the case of Cuban agriculture as this agricultural model was driven by loss of access to chemicals, petroleum, and money after the collapse of the Soviet block. Now that the Cuban economy is recovering and the country has secured new relationships with petroleum-rich countries, Cuba’s sustainable agriculture movement is threatened by a return to industrial management. Learning about the history of sustainable agriculture in Cuba, from its causes to its challenges, deepens my own understanding that sustainable agriculture must be predicated on more than scarcity or market impetus. The lessons I learned about the practice and research of sustainable agriculture and the integration of crops and livestock in Cuba will greatly enrich my own research and knowledge about agroecology.

Thanks to the University of California Cuba program, I was able to travel legally to Cuba with an educational permit to study agriculture. Funding from CenTREAD made this visit possible.
Yiwei Wang (Environmental Studies) Analyzing the effectiveness of translocation projects for conserving the endangered bridled nailtail wallaby

In the summer of 2008, funding from CenTREAD allowed me to travel to Queensland, Australia to work with the bridled nailtail wallaby, the most endangered macropod in the world. Flashjacks, as these animals are known colloquially, were presumed to be extinct for several decades before being rediscovered in 1973. As part of their management strategy, some wallabies were translocated to other locations in Queensland in order to diversify their range. Unfortunately, flashjack numbers have fallen to possibly fewer than 200 individuals in the wild. The lack of recovery is most likely attributed to predation (dingoes, foxes, and cats) and the spread of invasive grasses (buffel grass).

I have been interested in working in Australia since i studied abroad there as an undergrad. I jumped at the opportunity to conduct ecological research in Queensland, a beautiful state that contains world heritage habitats from rainforest to reef. While in Queensland, I helped conduct a population survey of the wallabies at Avocet, a privately owned reserve within a cattle ranch run by Hugo Spooner. At the same time, I began collecting information about the activity levels of

Yiwei Wang

predators on the reserve. I will be continuing my research in 2009 and setting up camera traps at Taunton National Park to further study the relationship between dingoes, cats and flashjacks. I hope my work there will contribute to the survival of the wallabies and provide educational materials for Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

To learn more about the flashjacks, please visit www.bntwallaby.org.au

Carla Takaki (Anthropology) Giving the Nation: Japanese Environmental Philanthropy in Indonesia

A tropical research grant from CenTREAD enabled me to conduct predissertation fieldwork in Indonesia this summer on Japanese transnational environmental charity, as well as Japanese and Indonesian forest conservation efforts. My goals for this research trip were to build a network of contacts, determine the feasibility of my proposed dissertation project, and develop ethnographic data. To meet these goals, I situated my research at an Indonesian environmental NGO in West Java. Conducting fieldwork there gave me an opportunity to better understand the day-to-day work of NGO forest conservation efforts, gain a detailed view of conservation funding and, most helpfully, attain a more ethnographically nuanced grasp of the challenges environmental NGOs face in positioning conservation projects that can successfully negotiate trends in international aid. I also worked to develop contacts among Japanese NGOs, which face challenges themselves in attracting interest in and monetary support for their work from Japanese funders. The insights gained from this trip are allowing me to work on reformulating my research project in ways that I could not have anticipated; CenTREAD’s support made this possible.

Brian Dowd (Environmental Studies) A political economy of cotton production in Burkina Faso

The global food and financial crises have focused attention on programs to aid Africa’s rural poor. My research explores two such programs – the liberalization of agricultural commodity chains and the introduction of genetically engineered (GE) crops. Specifically I interrogate whether these reforms contribute to social differentiation – aiding the relatively rich to the neglect or detriment of the relatively poor. I conduct this research in Burkina Faso since it is the first commercial adopter of GE crops in Africa (outside of South Africa) and a regional trendsetter in its model of commodity chain liberalization. CenTREAD funds made my current research trip to Burkina Faso possible. I conducted qualitative interviews of cotton sector actors and administered a rural survey of cotton producers.

Brian Dowd




2007 Tropical Research Grants

Nick Babin - (Environmental Studies) Smallholder agriculture persistence and adaptation

My research examines smallholder agriculture in Costa Rica.  Specifically, I am interested in understanding smallholder persistence and adaptation in the face of widespread changes in the political economy of agriculture in the developing world.  In the summer of 2007, with funding from CenTREAD, I visited several agricultural communities throughout Costa Rica.  During these visits I conducted semi-structured interviews with farmers, government officials and non-profit leaders.  These interviews allowed me to refine my research questions and develop contacts useful for my future field work.

Martha Bonilla - Dissertation Writing Grant - Forest recovery after human and natural disturbances

Martha Bonilla (mbonilla@ucsc.edu) is a Mexican graduate student in the Environmental Studies department at UCSC. Before coming to Santa Cruz she studied biology at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). Now she is finishing her PhD under advising by Karen Holl and Greg Gilbert.
She works in the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico, where her research focuses on forest recovery after human (milpas) and natural (hurricanes) disturbances.  Milpas (slash-and-burn agriculture) provide useful scenarios for forest recovery studies; Martha investigates what kind of species are coming back under this type of practice, especially how mature-forest species are affected.
As a paired study to this, she also is looking at the effect of seed planting as a way to help species typical of the mature forest to recover.
In addition to this, she did a study evaluating tree impacts and recovery following large natural disturbances, since two major hurricanes hit her study site (Emily –July 2005, Wilma –October 2005). These events gave her the opportunity to collect data on


forest damage and recovery after natural disturbances.  
Her work also examines the importance forest conservation has for each “actor” involved in the study area (stakeholders, decision makers, academics, NGO’s, business leaders) by gathering opinions and viewpoints from all involved representatives or actors regarding how and why conservation should be done in this area. CenTREAD gave her support during the writing stage in fall 2007.

Brian Dowd (Environmental Studies) Governance-related agricultural reform in Burkina Faso and Mali
My research explores the governance-related implications of reforms in the cotton sectors in Burkina Faso and Mali. Specifically I focus on whether current reform efforts – specifically the liberalization of the cotton commodity chain, and the introduction of GE cotton, empower poor producers. Cotton is the number one agricultural export and primary access to foreign currency in both of these West African countries. Cotton is also the primary access to cash, credit and agricultural inputs for millions of small-holder farmers. CenTREAD funds allowed me to travel to Mali and Burkina Faso during the summer of 2007, secure institutional affiliations with national research institutes in both countries, and begin conducting key interviews for my dissertation research. Brian Dowd
Brian Emerson (Environmental Studies) Alternative food networks in the Mexican countryside
During July and August 2007 I traveled to Mexico to conduct preliminary research on campesino-based alternative food initiatives and agroecological projects.  I began by visiting several organizations working to construct alternative food economies that I had identified through academic and gray literature reviews, researcher contacts or was introduced to while traveling with a food and development NGO during my first week in Mexico. I then used a snowball technique to discover additional projects of relevance.  I conducted and/or participated in informal meetings with numerous organizations, met several key scholars and visited a number of ejidos and indigenous communities. During these meetings I systematically gathered narratives of the extent, causes and solutions to immigration and rural community/household destabilization, I profiled the agroecological practices being utilized in these communities and I recorded attitudes regarding the future of farming in each community. I also gathered data about the alternative socio-economic producer collectives Brian Emerson
and trade networks that have been constructed in reaction to the repeated economic shocks that have beset the Mexican countryside since the early 1980s . The preliminary data I gathered include interviews, meeting and field notes with extensive accompanying photographs. Affiliates from a number of the projects I visited made claims that were counter to observed trends.  For example, recent research suggests that remittances are generally not helping to reduce immigration or create local employment and are generally not being reinvested in community or farm projects.  However, during my informal meetings with campesinos participating in an alternative socio-economic organization in Chihuahua, I encountered narratives asserting that the innovative support structures and marketing initiatives of the collective had helped to increase and stabilize farm gate prices for corn and other basic staples and have created more opportunity for local employment (as farmers)—significantly reducing migration.
Melissa Foley (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Mangrove and coral reef conservation in Belize

In collaboration with Sadie Waddington, a masters student at San Francisco State, and the Oceanic Society, I spent two weeks on Turneffe Atoll, Belize, investigating the connection between mangrove and coral reef habitats.  Turneffe Atoll is the largest atoll in Belize and currently the only atoll not protected by the Belizean government.  Due to the combination of intact mangroves and seagrass beds, Turneffe supports a high diversity of coral, invertebrate, fish, and mammal species and provides critical nursery habitat for many animals.  This diversity, however, has recently been threatened by development on the atoll. 

Our study focuses on how the processes of erosion and sedimentation are altered in areas where mangroves have been removed and how those changes affect the adjacent coral reef communities. 

melissa foley
On land, we measure the amount of soil erosion in intact mangroves and cut mangrove areas.  On the reef, in areas adjacent to the erosion sites, we measure the amount of organic sediment that accumulates in sediment traps.  We also conduct biodiversity surveys to document the species diversity on the reef.  This study is helping to compile concrete scientific evidence of habitat alteration for a United Nations Mandate and Biosphere Reserve application that is under consideration by the Belizean government.  This mandate would give Turneffe Atoll protected status and prevent further development from occurring.
Brian Petersen - Assessing Australia’s Alps to Atherton Conservation Corridor Project

My research looks at how to protect biodiversity in the face of climate change. Much of the debate around climate change has focused on how to mitigate it with few prescriptive recommendations on what managers, communities, and countries can actively do to adapt and protect species in the future. The scientific community has provided substantial evidence that climate change has already had a tremendous negative impact on ecological systems. That information has thus far not translated into management actions on how to protect biodiversity. However, an innovative approach has been undertaken in Australia to create a biodiversity corridor that spans the eastern coast of the continent specifically designed as an adaptation strategy to allow for species migration as climate change plays out.

The Alps to Atherton Corridor Project (A2A), undertaken by the state government of New South Wales, attempts to link protected areas from the tropical forests in the north to the temperate forests in the south by engaging private landowners to promote management activities on their properties to support conservation efforts.

The Department of Environment and Climate Change has spearheaded the project and has already begun implementing it. With funding support from CenTREAD I had the opportunity to spend the month of September in Australia. While there I interviewed government officials and others from partner organizations on the status and vision of aA2A. I participated in two working groups charged with coming up with the strategy to make A2A a reality. I met with professors at various universities interested in collaborating on a research project analyzing this effort. I also took several field trips with people to see the protected and no protected areas important to this effort, as well as examples of working lands being managed to support the A2A effort. This appears to be the first government sponsored project anywhere in the world specifically aimed at promoting adaptation processes to conserve biodiversity in the face of climate change.
Ana Spalding (Environmental Studies) Marine environment perceptions and management in Bocas del Toro

My research interests focus on identifying how perceptions and constructions of the marine environment and current management efforts could potentially affect the cultural and natural heritage of the Bocas del Toro archipelago in Panama. Specifically, I am interested in looking at the social and environmental changes occurring in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, as a result of its rapid growth as a globally important residential and temporary tourist destination.

During the summer of 2007, funding from CenTREAD allowed me to conduct a 10-day site visit to the archipelago. The visit was extremely successful, as I was able to work directly with local and international academics, policy experts, and foreign investors, deeply involved in the various issues surrounding the rapid transformation of the islands.

Ana Spalding
I also established invaluable contacts and identified potential key informants for my future research field season, expected to begin in the summer of 2008; conducted archival research on the political, social and environmental history of the Bocas del Toro province; and initiated the collection and organization of an image database related to the Archipelago. This visit certainly served its practical purpose in terms of preparing for future research, and it also provided inspiration and motivation to work towards addressing some of the most pressing environmental needs of the province.
CenTREAD Tropical Research Grants 2006
Nicholas Babin (Environmental Studies) Land-use and livelihood change - Exploring field Sites
My research examines land-use change in Costa Rican coffee landscapes. CenTREAD funded a summer 2006 preliminary research trip to Costa Rica. During this trip I affiliated my project with the Costa Rican Coffee Institute and CATIE, an agricultural research institution. I also visited several different coffee regions where I made contacts with cooperatives and farmers. These contacts will prove invaluable when I begin my fieldwork in 2007.
Blair McLaughlin (Environmental Studies)
Impacts of composting toilets in agriculture and reforestation in Haiti

This winter, I conducted a two week exploratory trip to Northern Haiti in order to develop research ideas on the potential impacts of composting toilets on agriculture and reforestation projects in this region. I worked with two non-governmental organizations, a transnational organization, SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) affiliated with Stanford University’s Engineers for a Sustainable World and Department of Biological Sciences, and a Haitian organization SOL (Sosyete Oganize pou Lanati or Society in Support of Nature). CenTREAD funding made this visit possible.

I spent the first half of my trip in the urban shanty-town, Shada, where approximately 15,000 people live without access to potable water or sanitation, on the outskirts of Cap Haitian, Haiti’s second largest city. I met with the district’s newly elected delegate to the Cap Haitian city council, with the mayor of Cap Haitian, and with informal community leaders, including the midwife and president of Shada’s Organizacion des Femmes (Womens’ Organization).

During the rest of my trip, to the rural villages of Millot and Labadie, I met with agronomists from SOIL and SOL to discuss their plans for developing linkages between composting toilets and agricultural and reforestation efforts, and the potential for the development of a research project to examine the impacts of these linkages. This is particularly compelling in rural Haiti, where most farmers do not have the ability to purchase chemical fertilizers (FAO 2004), and reforestation efforts are limited by severe land degradation and low soil fertility.

Brooke Crowley (Earth Science) The Future of Madagascar’s Lemurs: Coping with Change
Lemurs are a unique group of primates, endemic to the island of Madagascar. Little is known about lemur ecology. However, these animals are highly endangered and what little remains of their natural habitat is highly fragmented. My dissertation research focuses on using stable isotopes to better understand present and past lemur ecology. To begin my doctoral research, it was imperative for me to visit Madagascar and support from CenTREAD allowed me to conduct an exploratory. This trip has contributed directly to my progress in the physical anthropology graduate program by developing my knowledge of the lemur research network and the sampling localities I hope to use in my proposed dissertation research. I visited two protected areas representing extremely different ecosystems and spent time learning floral identifications, speaking with researchers and locals, and observing lemurs in their natural habitat. This trip has prepared me for my future research projects and has given me an initial understanding of field options and collaborations in Madagascar.


Ana Spalding (Environmental Studies) Strengthening ongoing conservation efforts in the Pearl Islands Archipelago, Republic of Panama
Given the ongoing threats to productivity and diversity of marine ecosystems, my research focuses on understanding the relationship between human activity and marine resource use. I am interested in working in the Pearl Island Archipelago, located in the south of Panama City in the Gulf of Panama. This Archipelago is traditionally known for the historical abundance of valuable pearls during the age of Spanish exploration. Today, both the culture and biodiversity of the Islands are under attack due to growing pressures from overfishing, irresponsible private development, large-scale tourism and anthropogenic climate change.
Specifically, I will focus on exploring alternative marine resource management schemes, given the historical and current patterns of resource use. Questions I would like to address include: how do the social and economic conditions of the local communities affect the development of an “environmental ethic” or sense of responsibility towards their natural resources? What are the perceptions of the local communities towards existing threats (i.e. tourism, overfishing, climate change, etc.)? What are the implications of climate change for the establishment of areas of marine management?
Support from CENTREAD during the summer of 2006 enabled me to go to Panama to conduct preliminary research. Primarily, I conducted literature reviews focusing on historical, non-scientific (descriptive, development project summaries, etc.), and local Panamanian scientific studies related to the Pearl Island Archipelago. I also visited the National Geographic Institute and the National Census Agency to obtain charts and demographic maps of the site. Finally, I met with scientists and environmental practitioners who have worked or are planning on conducting biological and archaeological research, as well as a series of education and outreach projects in the Pearl Islands. This provided useful insight into the realities of working in these islands, and allowed me to establish working connections with local institutions.
CenTREAD Tropical Research Grants 2005
Jeremy Campbell (Anthropology) Paving the Soy Frontier: The Return of a Highway in the Brazilian Amazon
I am interested in the social, political, and natural processes that are associated with the return of megaprojects—specifically road building—as a development model in the Brazilian Amazon. Roundly criticized as the guarantors of deforestation and land-tenure violence in the 1980s, roads have nonetheless returned to the development scene in the Amazon; my ethnographic research focuses on the planning and construction process through which the federal highway BR-163 comes to life. Political ecology has illuminated the effects of development projects on local peoples and environments; similarly, recent research has highlighted the vitality and increasing importance of local civil society groups in responding to government-inspired environmental management programs. But few have focused on the participatory process itself: how civil society organizations and private citizens become involved in democratically-motivated development schemes. My research seeks to illuminate the intersection of civil society and the regional planning process, asking how relationships are created, managed, and maintained in a novel environmental-governance
model. In the summer of 2005, with support of CenTREAD, I was able to initiate research on the participatory planning process in greater Pará, Brazil. I established contacts with environmental, indigenous rights, and landless workers movements who have been solicited by federal and state governments to participate in authoring planning policies. I was able to attend a variety of meetings—from NGO strategy sessions and government-sponsored plenaries—and became more centrally aware of the public process and private relationships through which "participatory, sustainable development" is taking shape. Future research will focus on the changing nature of social life along the road.
Brian Dowd (Environmental Studies) Cotton and West African agroecosystems: How different training schemes affect soil fertility outcomes
My research focuses on how the training methods used in different cotton production strategies affect the implementation of production strategies. Specifically I am interested in how these modifications to the theoretical production regime affect soil fertility and farm-level sustainability. Support from CenTREAD allowed me to travel to West Africa over the summer of 2005 and begin the exploratory phase of my dissertation research. I visited three organic cotton projects in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali, and 4 Integrated Pest Management (IPM) projects in Burkina Faso and Mali. The semi-structured interviews I conducted of farmers, project managers, NGO directors, and scientists helped me to locate possible study sites, develop questions for my dissertation, and establish a series of contacts. As a result of this research I established affiliations with Helvetas Burkina Faso and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which will help immeasurable with the continuation of my research next field season.
Tim Krupnik (Environmental Studies) From Integrated Pest Management to Integrated Biodiversity Management: Food Web Interactions, Habitat Manipulation and Biological Control in West African Rice Ecosystems
My research focuses is on the interrelations between various rice cropping systems and integrated pest management in West Africa. Funds supplied by CenTREAD were utilized for two related projects.
(1) I utilized a portion of the budget to purchase equipment to construct an insect-sampling vacuum that can remove samples from both the terrestrial and aquatic components of rice fields. This device was tested in rice producing areas of California’s Central Valley. (2) The remainder of the CenTREAD funds were used for an exploratory visit to the West African nation of Burkina Faso, where I met with over 100 farmers engaged in rice production activities as part of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) “Integrated Pest and Production Management” (IPPM) and “Farmer Field School” programs. I also made contact with numerous researchers from the Ministry of Scientific Research and Higher Education’s research wing, the ‘Instuit de l’ Environment et de Reserches Agricoles’ (INERA).
Plans were made to return to Burkina Faso in 2006 to begin field experiments with farmers trialing various rice cropping systems that entail different methods of organic matter management, specifically IPPM methods and the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). I plan to
examine the potential effect of improved organic matter management in these systems to stimulate detrital based food webs resulting top-down biological control of pest species. Habitat manipulation will also be examined. Because SRI involves wider spacing of rice transplants and periodic drying-down of rice fields, it is suspected that a less humid microclimate can be maintained in rice paddies, thus suppressing African Rice Gall Midge (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae: Orseolia oryzivora), while maintaining and even improving yield.
Julie Jedlicka (Environmental Studies) Approaching the Coffee Crisis: Linking Conservation and Social Justice
I am studying shade grown coffee agroecosystems in Central America. I am interested in how managed plant diversity within coffee farms contributes to both food sovereignty of the farmers and functions to attract associated biodiversity. Last summer with help from a CenTREAD grant I visited four different coffee growing communities to begin the initial phase of my research. I met with many community members, held informal interviews and toured the local landscape mosaic. As a result of my travels I developed solid relationships with many farmers and cooperative organizations and refined research questions for my dissertation.
CenTREAD Tropical Research Grants 2004

Bárbara Ayala (Environmental Studies) Effects of climatic variation on seed mortality due to pathogen infection in a tropical forest

My research focuses on understanding how variation in microclimate conditions affects plant mortality caused by plant pathogens in the tropical rain forest, and the importance of climatic variation and disease on plant community diversity. Density-dependent mortality of
dominant plants caused by host-specific enemies such as plant pathogens has been proposed as one of the mechanisms maintaining tree diversity in forest communities, but climatic shifts associated with habitat fragmentation, and global climate change, can strongly affect the dynamics of disease interactions. My research will help us to expand our understanding about the kinds of plant pathogens that play important roles in the ecological dynamics of tropical forests, how their impacts vary across climatic gradients and across different levels of disturbances, such as fragmentation, and how to develop guidelines for when and where managers need to incorporate endemic disease processes into conservation.
CenTREAD support enabled me to travel to Los Tuxtlas Biological station, in Veracruz, Mexico during the summer of 2004 to initiate my field work. CenTREAD support allowed me to 1) collect preliminary data on microclimate and on seed and seedling diversity, 2) perform a series of seed burial, fungal exclusion, and water augmentation experiments, and 3) establish collaborations with managers and scientist working in the area.

James Barsimantov (Environmental Studies) Assessing the Impacts of Economic Reform on Mexico’s Forests and the Effectiveness of Community Forest Management Initiatives

My research focuses on evaluating the environmental success of community forestry in Mexico on reducing deforestation. Mexico, a country that currently losses roughly 500,000 hectares of forest per year, has one of the world’s highest level’s of biodiversity as well as a large rural poor population. Community forestry involves groups of individuals who collectively own forest resources and choose to extract timber resources under government guidelines. While many researchers and practitioners tout community forestry as both providing local revenues and providing an alternative to converting forest to agriculture or pasture, little research has examined whether and under what circumstances is community forestry successful in reducing deforestation.

Support from CENTREAD allowed me to travel to Mexico in the summer of 2004 and meet with over 25 researchers, government officials, non-governmental organizations, and community leaders. These semi-structured interviews allowed to collect preliminary data that will help me

refine my research questions and deepen my understanding of community forestry in Mexico. In addition, I was able to create a network of contacts that will aid me when I begin my fieldwork. These contacts include two Mexico non-profit organizations involved in promoting community forestry. Both are very interested in the results my research, and have offered to collaborate and support my efforts.

Martha Bonilla(Environmental Studies) Vegetation succession in an agriculture-forest land mosaic in Mexico.

Milpas (slash-and-burn agriculture), are the name for the traditional Mayan farm agriculture system. This system is widely-implemented in the southern of Mexico, and the principal one used in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Milpa fields include mainly maize crops but also can be mixed with squash, beans and some seasonal fruits (e.g. watermelon). In this region milpas are usually surrounded by secondary forest (which provide seed sources) and are abandoned to natural succession after 2-3 years of continuous cropping. These characteristics make milpas especially interesting for forest recovery studies.
What happen when milpas are abandoned to natural succession? Do these “new” patches of successional vegetation resemble the species composition of surrounding secondary forests? Are sounding forests providing seeds for regeneration? Which species are good at sprouting?
In recent years survival agriculture has competed against other activities that represent monetary income, such as “eco-tourism” or employment in the building and tourist industries in nearby cities. This phenomenon has started to have repercussions in the region, being the abandonment of land and change of land use one of them. The use of land has gone from more to less active in some places. Socially and ecologically, it would be important to assess the impact of these changes on long term restoration and conservation projects.
In the summer of 2004 cenTREAD support allowed me to take preliminary data for my dissertation research studying forest recovery of milpas on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Specifically it facilitate me to: 1) travel to the region, 2) start vegetation surveys in milpas and surrounding forests and, 3) consolidate collaborations with people form the area.

Rebecca Cole (Environmental Studies) Project development in Tropical Forest Restoration and Integration with Farming Systems.

My research focuses on integrating reforestation and restoration of degraded agricultural land with sustainable farming practices in southern Costa Rica. Tropical forests have been widely cleared throughout much of this region resulting in loss of biodiversity and habitat fragmentation. Additionally, non-sustainable agricultural practices have lead to the degradation of large areas of agricultural land and loss of economic options for many farmers. I am working with a cooperative representing 400 coffee farmers in Costa Rica to 1) research methods of restoring tropical forests on degraded agricultural land, 2) evaluate incentives for reforestation and agroforestry on small scale farms, and 3) develop incentives for sustainable farming practices though alternative marketing strategies for local products.

Support from CenTREAD allowed me to conduct exploratory fieldwork in Costa Rica, establish collaborations with community leaders, and

government and non-government organizations. I was also able to travel to Matagalpa, Nicaragua, a community that has a successful development program and meet with local researchers and cooperative leaders. These contacts were helpful in establishing a framework for my work in Costa Rica. Additionally, I was able to establish a network of contacts that will support and assist my research.

Jennifer O’Leary (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) Searching for Sustainable Solutions for Declining Stocks: Collaboration with the Mexican Cooperative Abalone Fishery.

Historically, marine invertebrates such as abalone (Haliotis spp.) have been considered resistant to overfishing due their typical high fecundity and broadcast spawning reproduction. Unfortunately, this belief has been shown to be a fallacy. Along the California coast in the U.S., five species of abalone were fished in a commercial and recreational fishery for over 60 years. Now, the California white abalone (H. sorenseni) is the first marine invertebrate listed as a Federally endangered species, and the black abalone (H. cracherodii) is listed as a candidate. Because of this legacy of poor management in the U.S., government agencies and non-profit organizations are struggling to come up with restoration strategies for failing stocks.
In contrast, in neighboring Baja California, Mexico, an abalone fishery has been successfully operated for nearly a century, but under a different, bottom-up, management regime involving fishing cooperatives.
With the support of CenTREAD, I traveled to Baja California, Mexico for one month to study the cooperative abalone fishery and to initiate an exchange of information between fisheries technicians and scientists in the U.S. and Mexico. During June 2004, I interviewed 20 people intimately associated with the Mexican abalone fishery and compiled a database of contact information of virtually all known individuals with interest in abalone issues in Mexico. Interviews were conducted with representatives of 6 of the 10 cooperatives that fish abalone, with 5 of the 9 government scientists working with abalone (in the two key offices in Ensenada and La Paz), and numerous non-government (university or independent) scientists and aquaculturalists.
The primary objective of this project was to begin building lasting relationships with fishermen and scientists in Mexico to improve collaboration in abalone research and management. This is essential since the range of four abalone species span the US/Mexico border. Based on the meetings and interviews I conducted with the various people involved in the abalone fishery, I am compiling a report on the operation and success of the cooperative fishery system from a socioeconomic and biological/conservation standpoint. The report and contact database has already been requested by 1) Dr. Melissa Newman, head of the White and Black Abalone Recovery Team for NOAA for use by US scientists in developing improved recovery and management methods in the US, 2) Konstantin Karpov, Senior Scientist working with abalone for the California Department of Fish and Game, 3) Dr. Pete Raimondi, University of California Santa Cruz professor and researcher currently initiating abalone research in Baja California, and 4) Dr. Fiorenza Micheli, Stanford University researcher who recently completed an abalone survey in Baja California, Mexico. In addition to disseminating my written report and contact database, I have arranged to meet with these researchers to discuss my findings and to facilitate communication with Mexican researchers and fisheries associates.
Studies of the Mexican abalone populations can also provide critical information needed to guide restoration efforts in the U.S, while helping to create proactive protection measures in Mexico. The project greatly enhanced my own understanding of the elements that allow long-term sustainability in an active fishery. I am an author of the California Abalone Restoration and Management Plan (as a former Department of Fish and Game Marine Biologist), and am still active in abalone conservation and restoration in California. I will work with other state scientists to ensure that the information I collected is incorporated into California abalone restoration and management in the future.

Jessica Roy (Sociology) Environmental degredation, poverty, and access to water in the Nyando Basin, Kenya.

Jessica was killed when struck by a motorist while conducting her research in Kenya in August 2004 . We greatly miss her as part of our community. Her obituary is available at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2004/September/08/local/stories/01local.htm
CenTREAD Tropical Research Grants 2003
Hoyt Peckham, (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC)
Reducing bykill of the endangered North Pacific Loggerhead Turtule through ecological research and community networks

  There are currently fewer than 1,000 loggerhead turtles nesting each year in Japan, the only nesting site for this species in the North Pacific, representing a decline of more than 50% since 1992. Baja California’s shark and halibut fisheries cause much of the loggerhead turtle mortality in the North Pacific. Taking a minimum of 1,950 turtles per year, these fisheries’ impact is more than double that of all the other reported North Pacific loggerhead turtle mortality sources combined. The future of the critically endangered North Pacific loggerhead turtle population is thus largely in the hands of Mexican halibut and shark fishers. Through the binational non-profit WiLDCOAST and the conservation constituency Grupo Tortuguero de las Californias, I am partnering with Mexican fishers to elucidate loggerhead turtle foraging ecology and reduce turtle mortality.

CenTREAD support enabled me to 1) initiate collaboration with Mexican biologist David Aurioles-Gamboa of CICIMAR and 2) strategize with fisher partners along the Pacific BCS coast (in the communities of San Juanico, Las Barrancas, Lopez Mateos, Cabo San Lazaro, and Puerto San Carlos).

As a result of this CenTREAD funding, David Aurioles-Gamboa has joined our index shoreline survey which will enable us to independently monitor mortality of turtles and other megafauna. Meetings with fisher partners enabled me to lay the groundwork for our upcoming outreach campaign to reduce turtle mortality.
Dorothy Overpeck , Environmental Studies, UCSC
Legumes, food security, and soil quality for resource-poor Malawian farmers
 My research draws on both agroecological and anthropological theory and methodologies to evaluate the sustainability of three different maize (Zea mays)/legume intercrops being heavily promoted for resource-poor farmers in Malawi. The project’s unique interdisciplinary framework suggests that agricultural systems are not sustainable, no matter how environmentally benign, unless the people that depend upon them are also sustained and are therefore able to adopt or continue using the systems. My hypothesis is that the legume variety that also provides a food crop, Cajunus cajun (pigeon pea), is currently the most sustainable despite the fact it has been shown to improve the soil quality most slowly. The legumes varieties are: 1) Sesbania sesban, 2) Tephrosia vogelli, and 3) C. cajun (pigeon pea).
     CenTREAD’s 2003 funding enabled me to: 1) collect legume yield data and foliar samples for nutrient analysis, 2) perform legume biomass incorporation in participating farmers’ fields, 3) complete essential follow-up interviews revisiting legume preference and farmer adoption, and 4) perform a farmer attrition interview. Since many farmers expressed greater interest in adoption than had been seen previously, I also worked hard to get farmers more involved with the research taking place in their fields. Project technicians, farmers and I worked hand-in-hand to incorporate the leguminous biomass in their plots.
Roseann Cohen , Environmental Studies, UCSC
Constructing landscapes: the culture, politics and agroecology of homegardens
This summer, with funding from CenTREAD, I traveled to Panama in order to collect preliminary data and assess the feasibility of potential field sites for my research in Darién province. This opportunity greatly deepened my knowledge of the region and allowed me to reshape my research questions in more relevant ways as I write my dissertation proposal about the way daily agricultural practices and the struggles to control natural resources produce forest landscapes and cultural difference. While in Panama City, I met with Inter-American Development Bank consultants, government personnel, researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, professors at the University of Panama and the directors of two NGOs. In addition to their valuable suggestions regarding my research ideas, researchers and development workers
with established presence in the region offered future support with transportation, housing and other resources at various field sites. During visits to Darién province, conversations with members of different local communities provided me with a wealth of information regarding local histories of land struggles, the current politics of resource use and the different agroforestry practices being carried out.




Organization for Tropical Studies

CenTREAD helps sponsor UCSC graduate students to participate in graduate field courses in Tropical Ecology from the Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica. For more information on OTS courses in Tropical Ecology, Agroecology, and more, see the OTS website at http://www.ots.duke.edu. For UCSC students to apply for OTS courses, contact the UCSC faculty delegates Ingrid Parker (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) or Gregory Gilbert (Environmental Studies).
Diversity and Systematics of Coleoptera, June 2012 Tara Cornelisse, Environmental Studies
Diversity and Systematics of Coleoptera, June 2012 Jimmy O'Donnell, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Biology of Neotropical Social Insects, March 2009 Joe Sapp, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
OTS 2008-1 Tropical Biology: An Ecological Approach Joe Sapp, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Bat and echolocation specialty course, Feb 2007 Marissa Ramsier, Anthropology
OTS 2006-1 Tropical Biology:
An Ecological Approach
Eben Kirksey, History of Consciousness
OTS 2004-1 Tropical Biology:
An Ecological Approach
Rebecca Cole , Environmental Studies
OTS 2004-3 Tropical Biology:
An Ecological Approach
Sara Bothwell , Environmental Studies
Martha Bonilla, Environmental Studies

Becky Hufft, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

OTS 2003-1 Tropical Biology:
An Ecological Approach

Bárbara Ayala, Environmental Studies



Occasional Grants for Special Opportunities, Events, or Needs

Tropical Forest Festoration and Conservation. CenTREAD supported eight Costa Rican graduate students and professors to attend this six-day workshop at the Las Cruces Biological Station in Costa Rica. The workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation and organized by Karen Holl (UCSC) and Zak Zahawi (OTS) (July 2008).

Emerging Geographies. The graduate students in the Department of Anthropology are organizing a graduate student conference for 11 April 2008. The title of the conference is "Emerging Geographies: Mapping, Tracking, and Tracing" and welcome paper submissions from students from all social sciences and humanities departments, as well as submissions from students from other campuses (Deadline 7 Jan 2008). Affiliated with this conference is a less formal event called Midnight University titled "Navigating Maps".

2nd UCSC Plant Symposium: A day-long symposium at the UCSC Arboretum highlighting plant research on the UCSC campus, with researchers from three divisions across campus. 10 Feb 07

Chris Krohn (Internship Coordinator for the Dept. of Environmental Studies, UC Santa Cruz) Visited student field sites on organic coffee farms in Costa Rica and Nicarauga thus strengthening existing ties and establishing new contacts for student interns. Also attended sustainable agriculture conference ("Short course in Agroecology") organized and sponsored by Graduate and post-Graduate students from Santa Cruz. Conference was attended by over 50 farmers, agricultural technicians and academicians from 7 different countries.

V. Ernesto Mendez (Environmental Studies Ph.D. 2004) Taught ENVS 122 Tropical Ecology and Conservation, Spring 2006 as sabbatical replacement.

Roads and Walls: Concrete Histories, UCSC Anthropology graduate student conference (Cosponsor) (3 March 2006).

Women As Social Warriors III: Mujeres en Marcha (Co-sponsor) Iris Mungia, Secretary of Women, Coalition of Latin American Banana Unions and the Coalition of Honduran Banana Unions, Cristina Vasquez, Vice President, UNITE HERE, Maria Elena Alcantar and Maria Padilla, Local #3299 AFSCME (UCSC) (9 November 2004)

Alexis Racelis (Environmental Studies Ph.D. student) Received a 1-quarter fellowship to study sustainable agroforestry in the Yucatan Peninsula.

V. Ernesto Mendez (Environmental Studies Ph.D. candidate) Received tuition assistance to complete Ph.D. in Environmental Studies investigating the relationship of household livelihoods and social capital to the conservation potential of native tree biodiversity in small farmer coffee cooperatives of western El Salvador.