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
(Next call for applications will be March 2009)

2008 Tropical Research Grants
Brian Dowd (Environmental Studies) A political economy of cotton production in Burkina Faso
Brian Emerson
(Environmental Studies) Alternative Food Networks and the Construction of Resilience in Rural Mexico
Teresa Kurtak (Anthropology) Africa’s Lost Crops
Carlo Moreno (Environmental Studies) Implementing successful conservation biological control strategies in tropical agroecosystems: A matter of scale
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
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
Leighton Reed (Environmental Studies) Plant-animal interaction in restored tropical forest in southern Costa Rica


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
Kathy 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


2008 Tropical Research Grants

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.







2007 Tropical Research Grants

Nick Babin - 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 Laurel Fox (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) or Nate Dominy (Anthropology).
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.