PhD Research - Elizabeth Hiroyasu

MESM, University of California, Santa Barbara; BS Biology, University of California, Los Angeles

Elizabeth is broadly interested in coexistence between wildlife and humans across a variety of different landscapes. Prior to joining the PhD community, Elizabeth earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology at UCLA and her Master of Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at UCSB. Elizabeth also worked for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in the Marine Region as a scientific aide on the coastal pelagic species management project. During her time at the Bren School, Elizabeth has been an active member of the PhD community including serving on the Bren School Diversity Committee and the PhD Program committee. Elizabeth also served as the managing editor for the book Biodiversity and Climate Change: Transforming the Biosphere, edited by Thomas E. Lovejoy and Lee Hannah. Upon graduation, Elizabeth will join the California chapter of the Nature Conservancy as a Landscape Scientist.

Dissertation Abstract
Conflicts between wildlife and humans continue to be a persistent problem across a wide spectrum of landscapes. From threats of bodily injury from carnivores to significant losses in agricultural yields from pest species, human-wildlife conflicts have profound consequences for both the persistence of species across the landscape and for human livelihoods. In my dissertation work, I focus on two situations where human-wildlife conflicts can arise, species invasions and species reintroductions. Invasive and reintroduced populations typically exist at low densities at first, then establish, grow, and spread across the landscape; which has profound consequences for the people who live in, and the ecosystem processes that occur across, the landscape. But establishment and spread are strongly influenced by the human landscape, particularly tolerance for the presence of wildlife species and their associated impacts to nature and their livelihoods. Using case studies across a range of vertebrate species, including barn owls, wild pigs, and grizzly bears, I found that both the ecology of the species and public opinion influence the effectiveness of management. The life history and ecology of the species itself determines human ability to manage or coexist with vertebrates. Meanwhile, understanding the human landscape of tolerance is also important in understanding the success or failure of conservation programs for both invasive and native species.

Year Admitted: 
Research Areas:  Invasive Species, Community Ecology, Landscape Ecology, Population Dynamics
Faculty Advisor: Bruce Kendall


Fellowship awards:
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management Fellowship, 2014