My research centers on the intersection of biodiversity and ecosystem services in tropical countryside. More specifically, I’m interested in how agricultural intensification impacts bird communities and associated ecosystem services. Comparing bird communities across regions in Costa Rica yielded the key insight that beta diversity is retained in low-intensity land use but is lost rapidly with further intensification. Similarly, I found that community structure and stability of several functional guilds are resilient to low-intensity, but not high-intensity, land use.
These guilds provide landowners key ecosystem services. Coffee is the second most traded commodity after oil, and the coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) is its primary insect pest. In a replicated exclosure experiment, I discovered that both bats and birds consume the berry borer, conferring an economic benefit to coffee farmers. Future work will attempt to attribute pest-control services to individual species through DNA analysis of bird and bat feces. By marrying species-specific pest control with existing bird distribution models, I hope to create a spatially-explicit model for bird-mediated pest control services across tropical countryside.