Elaina Marshalek L&S Sciences
Maximizing Biodiversity Conservation in Tropical Production Forests Through Optimal Reserve Site Selection & Strategic Harvest Planning
With a rapidly increasing amount of tropical forest threatened by logging and land conversion, there is growing concern about retaining species diversity, and in turn, ecosystem sustainability. My research uses methods from the Operations Research field to incorporate ecological considerations for strategic planning in multi-use tropical forest landscapes. While past research has primarily focused on identifying sites for placing permanent reserves, my research develops optimization tools to create algorithms that apply principles of ecological sensitivity to both reserve patterns and harvest scheduling at once.I am utilizing recent advances in numerical optimization of integer programming problems to include spatial and temporal factors that until recently were difficult to solve with such precision. Varying harvesting patterns in response to species-specific spatial and temporal patterns in addition to reserve planning represents a promising new method inform future sustainability standards for forest management, thereby helping to conserve species diversity and maintain ecosystem function.