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Michael Pashkevich

Michael Pashkevich
Museum Room G.15
Office Phone: 01223 (7)68919

Biography:

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.

Research Interests

My research interests are focused on spider ecology and 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.

 

Collaborators