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Department of Zoology



A native of the biodiverse state of Louisiana (USA), I have long cultivated interests in ecology and conservation. I completed my undergraduate degree (B.S. in Biological Sciences) at Loyola University New Orleans. My honours thesis focused on spider ecology in a regional bottomland hardwood forest. This research, combined with a tropical ecology class in Belize and studying abroad in Edinburgh, compelled me to pursue a PhD in Zoology at the University of Cambridge. My PhD is funded by the Gates Cambridge Trust.

I am also passionate about developing the interests and knowledge of kids who are enthusiastic about science, particularly those who stem from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the natural sciences.


My research interests are focused on sustainable agricultural management. Oil palm is an economically important crop that is expanding globally. Landscape conversion to oil palm plantation affects diverse taxa, most often in a negative manner; however, very little research has studied the consequences of plantation establishment on spiders. This is despite spiders being present in all sub-habitats of oil palm plantations and, also, affecting agroecosystems in positive ways such as consuming insect pests.

For my PhD research, I am studying the biodiversity and functional ecology of spiders in Sumatran oil palm plantations. My research is part of the RERTA Project, which is investigating the effects of riparian margin restoration on oil palm ecology. Understanding spider functional roles and their responses to restoration efforts in the oil palm landscape may contribute to more sustainable and productive tropical agricultural management. My studies will also yield insight into the ecology of a highly understudied, megadiverse organismal group -- spiders -- that is particularly understudied in the tropics.


Key publications: 

Pashkevich, M.D., Aryawan, A.A.K., Luke, S.H., Dupérré, N., Waters, H.S., Caliman, J-P., Naim, M., Turner, E.C. (2021) Assessing the impacts of oil palm replanting on arthropod biodiversity. Journal of Applied Ecology. 00:(1-17). DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13749

Hood A.S.C., Pashkevich M.D., Advento A.D., Aryawan A.A.K., Naim M., Caliman J.P., Head J.J. & Turner E.C. (2020) Termite mounds house a diversity of species irrespective of understory vegetation management in oil palm. Biotropica. 00:(1-6). DOI: 10.1111/btp.12754

Luke S.H., Foster W.A., Advento A.D., Aryawan A.A.K., Adhy D.N., Ashton-Butt A., Barclay H., Drewer J., Dumbrell A., Eycott A.E., Harianja M.F., Hinsch J.A., Hood A.S.C., Kurniawan C., Kurz D.J., Mann D.J., Matthews Nicholass K.J., Naim M., Pashkevich M.D., Prescott G.W.,  Sudharto Ps, Pujianto, Purnomo D., Purwoko R.R., Putra S., Rambe T.D.S., Slade E.M., Soeprapto, Spear D.M., Suhardi, Tan D., Tao H-H., Tarigan R.S., Wahyuningsih R., Waters H.S., Widodo R.H., Woodham C.R., Caliman J-P., Snaddon J.L., & Turner E.C. (2020) The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function in Tropical Agriculture (BEFTA) Programme: using large-scale experiments to test and develop more-sustainable oil palm management. Front. For. Glob. Change. 2:75(1-20). DOI: 10.3389/ffgc.2019.00075


Publications in Review:

Pashkevich, M.D., Luke, S.H., Aryawan, A.A.K., Waters, H.S., Caliman, J-P., Dupérré, N., Naim, M., Potapov, A.M., Turner, E.C. Riparian buffers made of mature oil palms have inconsistent impacts on habitat heterogeneity and arthropod biodiversity in oil palm plantations. (In Review:  Ecological Applications).

Pashkevich, M.D., d'Albertas, F., Aryawan, A.A.K., Buchori, D., Caliman, J-P., González Chaves, A.D., Hidayat, P., Kreft, H., Naim, M., Razafimahatratra, A., Turner, E.C., Zemp, D.C., Luke, S.H. Time to restore tropical agriculture. (In Review:  Journal of Applied Ecology).

PhD Candidate


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