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Environmental Analysis

The Impacts of Fish Farming in the Peruvian Amazon

Alec "Gator" Halpern ('12); Pancho Castillo*; Wagner Guzman†; Mentor: Bowman Cutter
* Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonia Peruana ; †Naturaleza y Cultura Internacional

Abstract:  My SURP allowed me to work with two Peruvian NGOs, (Naturaleza y Cultura Internacional (NCI), and the Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonia Peruana (IIAP)), to assess the impacts of piscicultura, or fish farming, on the Peruvian Amazon. In order to analyze the environmental and economic impacts of fish farming, I personally gave out over 180 surveys to families in 8 different Amazonian villages. While all of the families surveyed practice subsistence agriculture, roughly half complement their harvests with fish ponds. Comparison of the data from the fish farming families, with the data from the non fish-farmers, provides the basis for analysis in this study. Preliminary analysis suggests that while there is no significant difference between the amounts of deforestation between the two groups, fish farming is a more productive and environmentally friendly form of land use than the more common slash-and-burn agriculture that is found throughout the region.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Family Foundation  

Ethnographic and Ecological Research in Madagascar

Maya Horgan (’13); Mentor: Richard Worthington

Funding Provided by: Schulz Fund for Environmental Studies

Climb On? Conservation and Access for Climbers in Southern California

Will Hummel ('12); Mentor: Richard Hazlett

Abstract:  Special interest conservation groups have always played an important role in the American conservation movement. In an effort to provide opportunities for and protect the future of various types of recreation, these groups develop an ethic that complemented other conservationist efforts, and assisted in the establishment of various conservation areas, including national parks. The balance between conservation and access is delicate and nuanced: in many cases, more access means more environmental degradation. I spent the summer surveying various case studies in the southern California climbing community by working with local climbing groups and government agencies. My research revealed a few general themes present in many conservation/access issues (including the importance of personal relationships and the existence of many “trump factors”). Furthermore, I was able to characterize the climbing community’s relationship with the natural environment as mostly positive, with specific, mitigable physical affects associated with the act of climbing.
Funding Provided by: Schulz Fund for Environmental Studies  

Squeaking Wheel Gets the Grease: The Impact of BP Oil Spill Waste Disposal on Communities of Color in Louisiana's Gulf Coast

Hannah Snyder ('12); Mentor: Richard Worthington

Abstract:  Today, just sixteen months after BP’s Deepwater Horizon blowout, national focus has turned away from oil in the gulf coast, while the communities hit by the disaster begin to recover from the trauma.  Waste disposal is one of the most important pieces of clean up and restoration efforts.   As of April 2011, 85.1 percent went to landfills located in communities whose percent people of color population exceeded the county’s percent people of color (Robert Bullard, 2011).  This presents a clear question of how disproportionate the impact of oil waste will be on communities of color.  In this research, I work along side Moving Forward Gulf Coast, to identify problems facing communities with landfills, and propose possible steps to take to address these issues. I look specifically at the toxicity of oil waste, methods for waste reduction, and the discrepancies between policy and actions in responsible parties.
Funding Provided by: Schulz Fund for Environmental Studies  

The Potential for Organic Farming in Rarotonga

Jeremiah Steuterman ('12); Mentor: Richard Elderkin

Abstract:  Agriculture is a major industry in developing nations and in the microcosm of island countries it is a foundation of economic development.  Rarotonga is the largest island of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific and is faced with a number of unique problems because of its small landmass and relative isolation.  The intention of this project is to determine from observations and conversations on Rarotonga whether some of the economic and environmental problems could be addressed with the implementation of organic farming.  Rarotonga faces the issues of small land area, soil degradation, high import costs, and pollution. Some of these issues can be traced to conventional farming techniques and the institution of organic farming can alleviate some of these pressures.  One of the main obstacles is a lack of support and funding to the government and community organizations.  An immediate switch to organic farming methods may, however, put unnecessary pressure on the growers by forcing them to switch from their more familiar methods and to more expensive organic fertilizers.  Organic farming has the potential to alleviate several economic and environmental problems on Rarotonga, but implementation must be gradual for the full benefits to be realized.
Funding Provided by: Schulz Fund for Environmental Studies  

Cetacean Research in the Cook Islands

Annie Tran ('12); Nan Hauser*; Becky Lindsay†; Mentor: Nina Karnovsky*Cook Islands Whale Research; †University of Auckland

Abstract:  The purpose of this study was to assess the behavior, abundance, and distribution of cetaceans around Rarotonga, Cook Islands with a focus on the species Megaptera novaeangliae (humpback whales). Data were collected from shore based observations while additional samples were collected from a boat. In addition to recording general observations while on shore or on the water, abundance of whales, GPS of whale sightings, DNA skin samples, photographs of whale flukes, and whale songs were also recorded or collected. Whales were found most frequently on the north side of the island during the afternoon hours, traveling individually or in groups of up to 3 whales. They are present around the island during the austral winter months of July-October, where they visit the warm waters of the Cook Islands to breed and calve. Information gathered about Megaptera novaeangliae is vital to the development of appropriate conservation methods of this endangered species.
Funding Provided by: Schulz Fund for Environmental Studies  

Research at Pomona