Michael is a PhD student at The University of Florida Department of Geography. His research interests include conservation biology, biogeography, spatial ecology, animal behavior, GIS, and remote sensing. His dissertation research will take place in southern Belize where he will investigate the effects that human disturbance has on terrestrial mammal biodiversity and abundance. If you’re interested in learning more about Michael’s past and current research projects, you can check out his website for more information.
For my dissertation, I will be researching potential human disturbance impacts on terrestrial mammal populations in southern Belize. This region is home to part of a described jaguar conservation corridor, connecting populations from Mexico and Guatemala to the rest of Central America. This project will cover a massive 1,000 square kilometers, including three protected areas: Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Bladen Nature Reserve, and Golden Stream Corridor Preserve. We will use remotely sensed data, sound meters, and social surveys of residents and key stakeholders to identify and quantify the gradient of human disturbance that exists within the study area.
Camera traps will be deployed throughout the study area to document the presence and abundance of terrestrial mammals. This will allow us to model potential effects that human activity and disturbance has on these populations, providing us with the information needed to implement better conservation strategies at the local and national level. This landscape is home to several Maya villages, and we will work with these local communities to kick-start community conservation efforts to help protect both Maya and protected forests.