My overarching research and extension goal is to meet the needs of people who use or enjoy rangelands (which make up ~70% of the earth’s land surface) with the goal of enhancing the conservation of rangeland ecosystems. My research broadly focuses on three main themes: 1) ecosystem services on rangelands with a focus on wildlife management and recreation, 2) land use change, and 3) policy assessment and development to improve the conservation of rangelands and wildlands.
My research focuses on finding practical ways to conserve wildlife habitat found on private land while maintaining sustainable human use of that land. I have researched the economic and environmental aspects of recreational use, and evaluated whether the income from recreation provides an incentive for habitat conservation. One recent study found that 440 million acres in the U.S. are leased or owned for recreation with annual spending of over $17 billion, with hunting dominating the land area used. Results from a study in California found a mix of negative impacts and conservation benefits associated with hunting in California and that revising state policies could help to increase positive outcomes while creating disincentives to perform practices with negative conservation impacts.
Land Use Change and Fragmentation
Habitat loss through land use change has been identified as the leading cause of biodiversity decline, and better understanding the location, scale and impact of these changes is critical to the conservation of rangelands. I am currently working with the Land Use Change Lab (LUC Lab) at Berkeley to evaluate cropland, rangeland and wildland use in California.
Policy assessment and development
Policy is crucial to achieving substantial conservation benefits on both the landscape and ranch level. My research seeks to evaluate how various policies can create improved outcomes for conservation and sustainable use of rangelands.
Federal Agency Performance
A recent side-project I’ve been working on looks at the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey to evaluate how different units within federal agencies perform. Below is a snapshot from the Interior Department results averaged between 2013-2015. In general, USGS comes out ahead in many metrics, while National Park Service and Bureau of Indian affairs come out will lower scores. Full results for the Interior Department for work unit can be found here, and results for the agency questions can be found here.