Erica Spotswood

Position: Graduate Student Fellow (NGS International Ecostations)

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Research Institution: University of California, Berkeley

About Erica Spotswood

Part of my dissertation research has involved trapping lots of birds on Moorea using mist nets. The Moorea Biocode project gave me a great opportunity to try to catch as many species as I could. Bird diversity is very low in French Polynesia, which has made my job much easier than others on this project who are attempting to tackle such taxa as arthropods and marine invertebrates -- it's incredible what is out there! Since 2005, I have been a PhD student in the department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California at Berkeley working in the lab of Dr. James Bartolome. My research focuses on investigating the role that birds play in dispersing introduced and native trees on Moorea and Tahiti. I am especially interested in the novel interactions between exotic species and the native and exotic organisms in their new environments. I am focusing my research on Miconia calvescens, an invasive species in French Polynesia. The goals of my research are to try to understand how dispersal of Miconia fruits by birds has influenced the population dynamics of Miconia spread. I spent 2008 living on Moorea on a Fulbright Scholarship doing field research. I have recently returned to Berkeley to finish my dissertation. Between receiving my Bachelor's degree in biology from Binghamton University and returning to school to pursue a PhD, I spent several years in Africa doing international conservation work both as a Peace Corps volunteer and with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Research focuses on three aspects of dispersal in the invasive tree Miconia (Miconia calvescens) in Tahiti and Moorea, French Polynesia. Specifically, I am investigating how birds modify the dispersal process, how different frugivore vectors contribute in different ways to dispersal, and what role frugivores play in the dispersal of native plants.

Associated Station Projects

Research Keywords: biological invasions, ecology, terrestrial biology