Mairin Deith

Ph.D. student

I research the dynamics of bushmeat hunting in tropical forests: modelling how hunters move while foraging, predicting the impacts of spatial management with decision-analysis, and investigating community-wide impacts of overharvest

Research summary

I research the dynamics of bushmeat hunting in tropical forests, with a specific focus on how hunters move through their foraging grounds and the potential for spatial protections in tropical contexts. This interdisciplinary work incorporates socioeconomics, ecology, and natural resource management to identify where species are most at risk of overharvest, the consequences of overharvest on community structure and function, and whether spatial protections can ensure sustainability in data-deficient systems.

 

Mapping hunting effort with mathematical models


Using high-resolution simulations based on resistance mapping and circuit-theoretic principles, I am investigating whether circuit-theoretic models can accurately capture how hunters forage in heterogeneous landscapes. Because hunting is motivated and influenced by the cultural, technological, and geographic contexts in which it occurs, I am also interested in how the relationship between hunting and landscape accessibility varies across global scales.

Tactical decision making in the face of uncertainty


Describing how hunters use space while foraging opens the door to understanding how this space use can be used for conservation and sustainable harvest management. As conservationists increasingly turn to no-take reserves to control resource extraction, it is becoming clear that the success of these reserves is not guaranteed. The social and conservation outcomes of reserves are highly dependent on the contexts in which they occur - applying population models and quantitative Bayesian decision networks, I research whether spatial reserves could be a tool for sustainable management of bushmeat hunting, and if so, under which conditions.

Community-level consequences of overexploitation


Finally, I am also interested in assessing the long-term consequences of overharvest in tropical forests. When unsustainable hunting leads to the decline of large vertebrates, these declines can have rippling effects to the structure and function of the entire ecosystem. Using camera trap data from around the world, I study how communities are impacted by hunting through a functional and phylogenetic lens.

Scale dependence of environmental controls on the functional diversity of coral reef fish communities
Global Ecology and Biogeography 26: 1177-1189
Yeager, L., Deith, M.C., McPherson, J.M.,Williams, I.D., Baum, J.K
2017