The theme of our research is to understand the fate and conservation opportunities of biodiversity under anthropogenic impacts. Around this theme, current research in our lab follows two main directions:
1. Understanding how the ecology of wild species and assemblages responds to human alterations of forest ecosystems
Through field data collection in a number of forest ecosystems in China and desktop analysis of map products and existing literature, we aim to assess how human alterations of forest ecosystems – particularly those driven by agricultural and forestry land use – influence the habitat area, community composition, and ecology of wild species. We approach these influences mainly on the local scale, but where appropriate, we also consider their spatial pattern. Beyond understanding these influences per se, our work also aims to inform forest restoration design, in terms of what types of tree cover to restore and where, for better delivering the biodiversity conservation potential of forest restoration.
2. Assessing and harnessing the synergies and trade-offs between biodiversity and other important land demands
Our motivation of this research direction is to identify opportunities for biodiversity conservation by tackling some of the root causes of biodiversity declines (including agriculture and timber production), and by gauging the ‘co-benefit’ scope of biodiversity conservation in relation to other prominent environmental pursuits that often get major policy attention (e.g. nature-based climate solutions). Similar to the research direction above, we approach this direction using a combination of fieldwork and desktop analysis, and where appropriate, by integrating a socioeconomic perspective aimed at understanding the hurdles to conservation in relation to production and profit in the working landscapes.
Examples of current research questions asked include: impacts of forest loss and degradation on avian assemblages (including elevationally and latitudinally migratory species) and predictors of such impacts; optimal land allocation among different forest management and restoration regimes to minimize the biodiversity cost of timber production; conservation and restoration potential of agricultural and forestry land abandonment. Our fieldwork is being conducted in China's Sichuan (southwest), Guangxi (southeast), Inner Mongolia and Hebei (northern), and Zhejiang (eastern) provinces.