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a research center of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University Bloomington
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Portfolio for Monica Paulson Priebe

School / Program:
Ph.D. Candidate in Environmental Science, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Special Skills and/or Knowledge Base:

  • Remote Sensing
  • GIS
  • Field Ecology
  • Fluent in Spanish
  • Teaching Experience 

Dissertation Title:
Institutional Analysis and Effective Conservation of Biodiversity in Central America 

Dissertation Committee:
  • Catherine Tucker, Co-Chair (SPEA and Anthropology)
  • Tom Evans, Co-Chair (Geography)
  • Craig Wayson (US Forest Service)
  • J.C. Randolph (SPEA)
  • Vicky Meretsky (SPEA)

Current Dissertation Progress and Expected Defense Date:
Expected Defense Date: January 2012

Dissertation Abstract:
Due to human-driven disturbances, tropical forests are suffering from rapid deforestation leading to a significant decrease in biodiversity. This in turn impacts the livelihoods of local human populations. Conservation of biologically rich forests is one of the most crucial issues in current natural resource management. Institutional approaches to conservation range from limited use laws to complete exclusion of people from protected areas. Institutions are formal and informal rules that people use to manage resources. Previous research has shown a correlation between monitoring and enforcement institutions and biodiversity, however there is no clear understanding about why some institutions successfully maintain biodiversity while others do not. This research quantifies the differences in forest biodiversity in a contiguous high montane cloud forest, La Fraternidad Biosphere Reserve, located at the intersection of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Each country has different institutional arrangements dealing with the protection of this area and monitoring and enforcement vary accordingly. The project addresses the following question: How do institutional arrangements for monitoring and enforcement affect biodiversity in protected areas? Remote sensing land cover change analysis along with intensive forest mensuration, local household surveys and interviews will provide data needed to complete a comparative analysis of the impacts of three distinct institutional protection regimes. This research explores what institutional arrangements are associated with conservation in protected areas occupied by humans, and which institutional variables correlate with greater biodiversity. This research has potential implications for approaches to current conservation initiatives in areas where people live within in protected areas.

Monica Paulson Priebe