1. Ecological levers for health: Through this Science for Nature And People Partnership (SNAPP) working group hosted at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara, CA, we are working to identify win - win ecological solutions for human infectious disease and conservation. This working group brings together academics and practitioners from around the country and world to work toward sustainable solutions to pressing public health and conservation problems across the globe. Look for upcoming publications (e.g., published in Nature Sustainability, in review at Lancet Planetary Health) showcasing the work and findings of the group.
2. Health care intervention and deforestation in Indonesian Borneo: I am collaborating with the NGO Health In Harmony, based in Borneo (Kalimantan), along with the De Leo lab at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station to identify the conservation impacts of health care delivery in and around Gunung Palung National Park in Borneo.
Through improved health and reduced medical costs, the group hopes to see a reduction in illegal deforestation and associated impacts on Orangutan populations and biodiversity in Gunung Palung, NP, while improving livelihoods and sustainability in the nearby villages and communities. This is an exciting example of a "health lever for conservation" (published in PNAS).
3. Effects of agricultural production practices on natural systems and biodiversity in California: In collaboration with Bren School Professor, Dr. Ashley Larsen, we are working to identify the impacts of agricultural pesticide use on natural systems in California. California produces a large diversity of highly valuable agricultural products, though production practices can have impacts on native diversity and ecological systems through land conversion, air and water pollution and water use. We have identified areas of significant overlap between pesticide use and biodiversity hotspots in the state, using the California Pesticide Use Reports and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Areas of Conservation Emphasis database (published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment), and seek to build on this work to further characterize, understand and mitigate agricultural impacts on California's native flora and fauna. (Other relevant publications include studies published in Environmental Entomology, Agricultural Systems, and BioScience).
4. Coupled natural-human systems: Increasingly it is clear that natural systems do not exist in isolation from human systems or human impact, and these social and ecological systems can exhibit important coupled dynamics with key implications for policy and management. My work on forest fragmentation and Lyme disease (published in AJTMH and Journal of Applied Ecology) and deforestation and malaria (published in PNAS) clearly illustrate feedbacks between disease risk (in the case of Lyme disease) or disease burden (in the case of malaria) and land use change, which dramatically influences our understanding of the environmental drivers of disease transmission. In addition, I have worked with economists and political scientists to understand how coupled natural-human system dynamics can influence responses to climate change, which can often be maladaptive (study published in Nature Climate Change).
Figure adapted from MacDonald et al. 2019 Journal of Applied Ecology.