Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources


Paige Barlow

Education Background

B.S. University of Richmond, 2006
Majors: Biology and Environmental Studies, Minor: Mathematics


M.S. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2009
Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation
National Marine Fisheries Service Recruiting, Training, and Research Program
Thesis: Sea turtle bycatch by the U.S. Atlantic pelagic longline fishery: A simulation modeling analysis of estimation methodologies
Advisor: Dr. Jim Berkson


Ph.D. University of Georgia, Expected graduation 2013
Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources
Dissertation: Integrating hierarchical Bayesian occupancy modeling and stakeholder values to optimally direct broad-scale land use and fine-scale land management decisions for human and avian community objectives in the context of exurbanization  
Co-advisors: Dr. Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman, Dr. Michael Conroy


General Research Interests

Paige is interested in using quantitative models and stakeholder input to make conservation decisions.  Her research focuses on methods for sampling wildlife populations, hierarchical modeling of ecological processes including observation models, and natural resource decision making under uncertainty and conflicting objectives. 


Project Summary

The southern Appalachian Mountains have experienced dramatic rates of land use / land cover (LULC) change over the last 50 years. In general, the LULC changes can be characterized as: (1) increases in forest because of declines in timber harvest, (2) declines in agriculture, (3) increases in urban land cover, and (3) increased fragmentation of native habitat through amenity-driven exurbanization. The southern Appalachian Mountains are also an area of high biodiversity, making changes in LULC a potential concern for species conservation. As birds are known to be sensitive to landscape changes and are readily detected and identified by their songs, they are a suitable focal taxon. Macon County, North Carolina, the location of the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research site, is a microcosm in which to study the effects of LUCL on birds.
We conducted point counts at 276 sites across a range of LULCs and elevations in Macon County and sampled each site 3 times during the breeding season.  We used a double independent observer sampling design and collected detection data for songbird and woodpecker species. We built a candidate set of occupancy models based on a priori hypotheses relating site- and survey-specific land use variables to avian occupancy and detection.
These ecological finding will be combined with stakeholder values and opinions in a structured-decision making framework.  We will work with stakeholders to elicit their opinions and values, understand their decision making motives and processes, and assess potential for adopting land use and land management practices that are socially acceptable and support avian communities. Further, we will model the effects of exurban development on avian occupancy in other regions of the country that are experiencing similar LULC changes and compare results from the different systems.


Additional Information

Funding is provided by the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research project, University of Georgia Graduate School, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Georgia Ornithological Society, and Georgia Museum of Natural History.