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Adrienne L. Contasti

Adrienne is studying for her PhD at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Human disturbance effects biodiversity when it disrupts species interactions across trophic levels, but how disturbance shapes ecological communities remains unclear, especially in tropics. Adrienne’s PhD is focused on uncovering the effect of human disturbance on the mammal and plant community of Buton Island, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. Study species include the anoa (Bubalus depressicornis/quarlesi), wild pig (Sus celebensis), Buton macaque (Macaca ochreata), rodents (Muridae), and all naturally occurring tree species. The main objectives of her work are (1) to assess mammal local abundance at sites exposed to different levels of past and present human disturbance, (2) to assess seed predation and seedling herbivory along the same gradient of disturbance, and (3) to develop a conservation tool that identifies high priority areas to reduce human presence. Adrienne uses camera traps to estimate mammal local abundance and manipulative exclosures to estimate seed predation and seedling herbivory. The results of her study will provide critical conservation information to Buton Island and increase our understanding of the importance of species interactions in shaping ecological communities. Funding sources include the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the University of British Columbia, and Operation Wallacea.

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