Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 12-17-2016


Land-use change, commercial over-harvesting of species, and climate change are recognized as the main drivers of biodiversity loss. As a result, it is estimated that 30% of the planet’s biodiversity may go extinct by 2050. This dissertation focuses on how to mitigate the impacts of land-use change on biodiversity. I focus on large migratory herbivores because they are among the most heavily impacted by global change due to their large home range requirements. Habitat fragmentation, illegal hunting, and human-wildlife conflicts are among the biggest threats to large herbivores and result from land-use change. For this reason, my first chapter focuses on monitoring the daily and hourly movement patterns of large herbivores to and from water resources to determine if humans can modify their behaviors in ways that will reduce conflict and habitat fragmentation. The data suggest that herbivore movement patterns can be predicted, and that humans can delineate wildlife movement corridors and design development projects that minimize impacts on large herbivores. The conversion of land to human use has been shown to increase illegal hunting. However, I discuss how a hunting ban has led to loss of local livelihoods magnifying the need for illegal hunting, compelled people to obtain more livestock to increase their incomes, and displaced rural people leading to increased land-use change. I explore the other potential drivers of species loss and illustrate how mitigating these drivers and valuing wildlife resources in a way that supports rural communities can have a more positive impact on biodiversity. I then explore whether it is possible for large mining projects to result in no-net loss or a net gain in biodiversity. I use the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia as a case study of how mitigation and offset programs can be used to increase biodiversity. I then suggest that focusing mitigation and offset programs on restoring and enhancing ecological processes and whole landscapes may be more effective than a focus solely on threatened and endangered species.

Project Sponsors

Spingfield Award, University of New Mexico, 2012




Biodiversity, Land-use Change, Large migratory herbivores, Human-wildlife conflict, Hunting, poaching, mining, habitat fragmentation, movement patterns, hervivore assemblages

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Collins, Scott

Second Committee Member

Litvak, Marcy

Third Committee Member

Wolf, Blair

Fourth Committee Member

Kirkman, Kevin

Included in

Biology Commons