Tropical Ecosystem Sustainability: A large mammal approach
Bradham, Jennifer Leigh
Tropical ecosystems regulate global climate, act as carbon sinks, and contain some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. Yet, increased human population growth and associated land use needs have made tropical ecosystems among the most threatened on the planet. This research is devoted to finding solutions for creating sustainable ecosystems that preserve native species while also balancing sustainable development decisions that support the livelihoods of those in rural and agricultural communities. Throughout this work, I use large mammals as proxies for defining wildlife land use needs to evaluate which aspects of an ecosystem are essential for conservation and which are better suited for human development. Within this context, I evaluate (i) the spatial conditions under which large mammals can persist in agricultural and cattle ranching landscapes and (ii) the degree to which large mammals can adapt to climate and land use change. I explore these topics in the Cerrado, Atlantic Forest, and Pantanal biomes of Brazil, where native ecosystems are often nestled within agricultural and cattle ranching landscapes and pressure for increased human development is high.