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Annika Schlemm, United States

United States



I spent several months working in Dr David Wilcove’s lab, affiliated with the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) program, at Princeton University. I primarily worked with Dr Zuzana Burivalova on a meta analysis of the effectiveness of protected areas as conservation intervention. We collaborated with Mongabay, whose journalist Shreya Dasgupta produced a fantastic written piece on protected areas. An interactive visualisation was also produced, making the findings accessible to policy makers and beyond. We also published a paper, which had some additional wonderful work from Zuzana on conservation effectiveness of different interventions.


I interspersed this work with an independent bioacoustics project, which involved listening to hours of sound recordings from all over Borneo, and then analysing the abundance and diversity of the organisms detected in the context of habitat use (such as logged, oil palm plantation, protected forest). This work revealed to me how powerful the tool of bioacoustics can be in monitoring ecosystems and seeing how organisms respond to new pressures or environmental management - a beautifully simple method that provides very nuanced insights.


Above: The visualisation summarises my findings from evaluating the effectiveness of protected areas across the tropics. Each block represents an outcome per study, whether it affected variables such as animal diversity or human-wildlife conflict. The colour shows whether a protected area was better at improving the variable than no protected area (green=better, yellow=same, red=worse). There is more information available on the methodology for those who are interested.

All photos taken by Annika Schlemm

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