Current research projects in the lab focus on reconciling agriculture with biodiversity conservation. Agriculture constitutes the largest threat globally to biodiversity. Occupying 40-50% of terrestrial lands, it is arguably as important to find ways to make agriculture “wildlife-friendly” as it is to protect biodiversity in remaining natural areas. Any improvements to agriculture that favor wildlife will have a large positive impact, simply due to the huge area occupied by agriculture. There are two key components. First, while protected areas are critical for conserving the most sensitive species, it is also essential that the “working lands matrix” surrounding these protected areas promotes wildlife movement between reserves and provides resources and habitat for those species that can utilize such resources. Second, it is essential that agriculture not expand its current footprint, replacing current natural areas. Thus, “wildlife friendly” farming methods must also be highly productive. The lab investigates how farming systems, on a spectrum from highly diversified to highly simplified, influence biodiversity and ecosystem services like pollination and pest control that contribute to agricultural yield,
Working with other scientists at the Center for Diversified Farming Systems and the Berkeley Food Institute, this research integrates into a much larger framework, which considers not only the production side of agriculture, but also the social, political, economic and structural factors that influence farming practices, and that determine the environmental, human health and social justice outcomes of global food systems.