Deja Perkins

Graduate Student | Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources Program in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology | NC State University

2018-19 Global Change Fellow

Statement of purpose:

The earth is filled with limited resources, including land space. By 2050 the human population is expected to exceed 10 billion, but where will those people live? Most likely, the majority of people will live in cities, or near urban areas. Anthropogenic factors such as habitat loss as land is converted from wild areas to developed and agricultural areas have caused major declines in animal species. Anthropogenic factors have always had the biggest impact on animal populations, from manipulating populations to reducing or restoring habitat, yet some species have been able to adapt, surviving in urban landscapes by utilizing urban green spaces and other natural areas. If urban areas are potentially used to provide suitable habitats for animal species in an increasingly urbanized world, we must look at the impacts of urbanization as a factor of global change. My goal is to find out how the urban landscape affects animal behavior, habitat selection and movement within the city.

Description of research:

My research interests involve connecting minority communities to the outdoors while increasing support and morale for green spaces in underserved communities. Green spaces provide a variety of ecosystem services and health benefits, yet we see different management approaches and priorities regarding green spaces as the socio-economic gradient changes. This is due to differences in accessibility and the perceived value of natural areas in different neighborhoods. Citizen science is a great avenue to connect communities to nature and science. I want to utilize citizen science to study the impacts of urban areas on animal behavior, health and distribution, and hopefully use this data to better inform management decisions to create sustainable green urban landscapes for the mutual benefit of people and wildlife. This research aligns with DOI Priorities 1. Creating a conservation stewardship legacy second only to Teddy Roosevelt, and 3. Restoring trust with local communities.