Meet the Team

The Wilcove Team
(aka The Drongos)

Professor David S. Wilcove

David S. Wilcove (professor): Members of my research group use a combination of ecology, economics, and policy research to find workable solutions to challenging conservation issues around the world. Recent or ongoing projects include: studies of the impact of logging and oil-palm agriculture on biodiversity in Southeast Asia; impact of the cage-bird trade on Indonesian birds; conservation of migratory animals; factors affecting the distribution of birds along elevational gradients in the Himalayas; reforestation and forest recovery in China, Costa Rica, and Peru; and the impacts of hunting on wildlife in China. Prior to joining the Princeton faculty in 2001, I served as senior ecologist with the Environmental Defense Fund (1991-2001) and The Wilderness Society (1986-1991). I am an avid birdwatcher who cannot forgive himself for missing the Hawaiian Crow in 1996, but who did see the last wild Spix’s Macaw in Brazil in 1993.

Zuzanna Zuzana Burivalova (postdoc): I am interested in how we can improve tropical forest management in order to find the right balance between biodiversity protection and a reasonable use of forest resources. One of the questions I will be trying to answer during my postoctoral fellowship in Princeton is this: is it better, in terms of biodiversity, to intensify timber extraction in tropical forests, and reduce the area needed for production, or is it better to use a larger part of forest, but at a lower intensity? In order to find the answer, I will also need to investigate how biodiversity responds to forest use at broader spatial scales, as our understanding is currently limited to changes within small forest plots. The interface between biodiversity protection and human use of forest resources is particularly relevant in buffer zones of national parks and other protected areas, and that is where I will focus my research efforts.

I completed my PhD at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland, with Lian Pin Koh, looking at factors that determine the responses of animal diversity to selective logging in tropical forests. Before that, I studied masters in environmental science in Geneva, and undergraduate biology at Oxford University. In between, I worked in the United Nations Environment Programme on the impacts of conflicts and disaster on the environment.
Willandia Chaves

Willandia Chaves (postdoc): I am a Conservation biologist interested in working at the interface of wildlife ecology and the human dimensions of wildlife conservation, using tools and methods from different fields, including Conservation Psychology, Economics and Environmental Education among others. In the short and mid-term, I want to focus my work on understanding how people make decisions about the use of natural resources, especially wildlife, how these decisions impact species and ecosystems and on identifying approaches to improve resource management. In the long term, I am interested in assessing the impact of conservation actions on biodiversity and human well-being. For my postdoc, I will study the illegal trade of freshwater turtles in the Brazilian Amazon. I am interested in assessing the impact of the trade on turtles and the social and economic factors influencing the trade. One of my goals is to identify priority actions and areas for turtle conservation in the region.

I completed my PhD and master's degrees in Interdisciplinary Ecology at the University of Florida and my bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences at the Federal University of Acre (Brazil). For my PhD, I assessed the factors influencing consumption of wild meat and implemented a social marketing campaign that successfully reduced wild meat consumption by urban residents in the central Amazon. For my master's, I assessed the effects of reduced impact logging on bird communities in the western Brazilian Amazon.

Eyal Frank

Eyal Frank (postdoc): I work on environmental economics, studying how economic activities reduce levels of natural capital, specifically in the form of biodiversity losses, and the effects this has on outcomes related to health, trade, and labor markets. In my postdoc, as part of the Wilcove lab at Princeton University, I will be focusing on the dynamics of illegal wildlife trade markets. My goal is to improve our knowledge as to how these markets operate, such that policymakers have a better understanding regarding the impacts of different conservation policies.

Prior to joining the Wilcove lab, I completed my PhD in Sustainable Development at Columbia University, and received my MA in Economics and BSc in Economics and Environmental Sciences from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Umesh Srinivasan (postdoc): My primary research

interests lie in understanding how various forms of human-induced forest conversion impact biodiversity. My PhD looked at how selective logging affects the demography of understorey insectivorous birds in the Eastern Himalaya. My other research areas have been in trying to unravel how multiple species associate with each other on mixed-species bird flocks, and in biogeography, especially the biogeography of the Himalayan mountain range.

I received a PhD from the National Centre for Biological Sciences in India, before which I completed by Master's in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from the WCS-India, Centre for Wildlife Studies and NCBS programme in Bangalore. In a previous life, I was also trained as a medical doctor.

Chris Crawford

Christopher Crawford (graduate student): Some of my research interests include ecological restoration (particularly along rivers and streams), incentives for conservation and restoration on private lands, the effects of agricultural land use on biodiversity, and causes and consequences of land use change. Big questions include: how do we find more room for biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes, and how do we feed the world without destroying it? By exploring the biodiversity, ecosystem service, and economic trade-offs of different land use scenarios, and looking at policies and incentives to effectively guide land use, I hope to improve how we use land for conservation and for people.

Prior to graduate school, I spent 3.5 years working for Sustainable Conservation in San Francisco, on collaborative projects to 1) reduce the use of invasive plants in horticulture (PlantRight) and 2) facilitate riparian restoration in California’s Central Valley. I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2012, and I love riding my bicycle, taking pictures of clouds, and listening to Swedish music.

Tong Mu (graduate student): My research interests lie in the field of avian ecology and conservation, especially that of shorebirds migrating along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Combining field study, individual tracking and mathematical modeling, I plan to identify the factors affecting their selections of migration routes and stopover sites, and to see whether the understanding of shorebirds migration patterns can be extended to that of other migratory birds.

Prior to joining the Drongos, I received my B.S. from Peking University in 2014, and during my time there, I became an avid birdwatcher and also became aware of the conservation issues pertaining to birds and other organisms.
Tim Treuer

Tim Treuer (graduate student): My research interests fall broadly in the intersection of community ecology, tropical biology, and conservation. For my dissertation I am studying regenerating tropical dry forest in Costa Rica, trying to understand what modulates the biodiversity value of these young habitats (or to frame it another way, what deterministic and stochastic forces shape the community structure and composition in these successional landscapes). My study system is El Area de Conservacion Guanacaste, one of the world's largest tropical forest restoration projects. Using audio recorders, camera traps, and other tools, I hope to help zero in on the optimal role for large-scale forest restoration in preserving biodiversity through the mitigation of extinction debt.

Prior to Princeton, I got a A.B. degree from Harvard in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (2010) and spent a year working on reforestation and mosquito ecology projects in Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia as a Richardson Fellow in Public Service. At Princeton I am also pursuing a PEI-STEP fellowship and do events planning with the Graduate School as a Community Associate. I am a huge fan of camping, diving and all things Alaska.

March 2018 Drongos

March 14, 2018: Another rare sighting of all of the Drongos in the same place at the same time.

Drongos 2014

On a cold day in March 2014, all of the Drongos were together in Princeton for the first time in over a year. Todd Reichart (Chemistry Department) took this historic photo to commemorate the event.

Drongos 2013

This photo from February 2013 represents a rare occasion when all of the Drongos were together at the same time on the Princeton Campus. Usually at least one of us is in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, China, India, Korea, Peru, Ecuador, or even Tennessee.




Drongo Alumni

Bethany Bradley (former postdoc): Bethany studied the impact of climate change on invasive plants for the Western USA from 2006-2006. She is now at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Charlotte Chang (former graduate student): Charlotte studied the ecological and social dynamics of huntinh in Yunnan. She is at the University of Tennessee.

David Edwards (former postdoc): David studied patterns of biodiversity in primary once-logged and twice logged forests in Southeast Asia. He is at the University of Sheffield.

Paul Elsen (former graduate student): Paul studied the ecology and conservation of bird communities in the Himalayas. He is at UC Berkeley.

Lyndon Estes (former postdoc): Lyndon modeled how climate change is likely to shift maize and wheat cultivation in South Africa, as well the implications of those shifts to biodiversity. He is at Clark University.

Brendan Fisher (former postdoc): Brendan studied the economics of logging and oil palm agriculture in Southeast Asia.  After three years at the World Wildlife Fund (post-drongo), he moved to the University of Vermont.

Xingli Giam (former graduate student): studied the conservation of freshwater biodiversity in Southeast Asia from 2009-2014. He is at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Jonathan Green (former postdoc): studied the ecological and socioeconomic issues related to the conservation of shorebirds (e.g. spoon-billed sandpiper) wintering in Southeast Asia during 2012-2014. He is at the University of York.

Nathan Gregory (former graduate student): Nathan studied how prescribed fire and Massai pastoralism affected bird diversity in the Sayannas of East Africa. He is at the Irvine Ranch Conservancy.

Bert Harris (former postdoc): studied the impact of the bird trade in populations of wild birds in Indonesia from 2012-2015. He is at The Rainforest Trust.

Josh Hooker (former postdoc): From 2005-2008, Josh studied the impacts of climate change on bird communities in North America. He is at the University of Reading.

Fangyuan Hua (former postdoc): Fangyuan studied the biodiversity impacts of China's reforestation programs. She is at the Univeristy of Cambridge.

Lian Pin Koh (former graduate student): Pin was a graduate student from 2004-2008, studying the impacts of oil-palm agriculture on biodiversity in Southeast Asia. He is at the University of Adelaide.

Trond Larsen (former postdoc ): Trond was a WWF Fuller Postdoctoral Fellow from 2008-2010. He used dung beetles as a model system for developing conservation strategies in the Andes-Amazonia region. He is at Conservation International.

Janice Ser Huay Lee (former postdoc): Janice studied the expansion of oil palm agriculture in Southeast Asia and its impacts on biodiversity. She is at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Tien Ming Lee (former postdoc): Ming studied the social drivers of the wild bird trade in Indonesia. He is at Sun Yet-sen University.

Dave Marvin (former research assistant): From 2006-2008, Dave created a novel web-mapping system to collect data on the distribution and abundance of invasive plants in the Southeast U.S. He is at The Nature Conservancy.

Emily Nicholson (former postdoc): Emily was a postdoc from 2006-2007. Working in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and the Florida Natural Areas Inventory, she developed new quantitative methods for assessing progress in biodiversity conservation. She is now at Deakin University.

David Pattemore (former graduate student):  David studied how the loss of native vertebrates in New Zealand has affected the pollination ecology of the native plants there; he also studied the degree to which non-native vertebrates are assuming the pollination roles of the missing natives. He is with Plant & Food Research in New Zealand.

Jacob Socolar (former graduate student): Jacob studied the impacts of land-use change on Amazonian birds. He is at the University of Connecticut.

Morgan Tingley (former postdoc): explored the factors driving long-term changes in the avifauna of the Great Smokies Mountains from 2012-2014 with support from David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program. He is at the University of Connecticut.

Will Turner (former postdoc): Will was a post-doctoral fellow from 2003-2006, working on issues pertaining to reserve design and management. He is with Conservation International.

Charles Yackulic (former postdoc): Charles modeled the spatial and population dynamics of spotted owls and barred owls in the Pacific Northwest. He is with the USGS Biological Resources Division.