Prof Heads to Jamaica to Study Birds - Humboldt State Now

Prof Heads to Jamaica to Study Birds

This fall, Humboldt State wildlife professor Matt Johnson will be heading to Jamaica -- thanks to a National Geographic Society grant -- to study insect-eating birds on Jamaican coffee farms.

Johnson’s project will investigate the potential for birds to control crop pests in small farms adjacent to existing forest preserves in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, an area that produces some of the world’s most elite coffees – retailing for up to $60 per pound. He is examining whether there is an actual economic incentive for farmers to retain traditional bird-friendly farming techniques, rather than using increasingly popular chemical pesticides.

Working with HSU economics professor Steve Hackett, and an entomologist from the University of West Indies, Johnson will use economic models, including crop yields, and pesticide costs, to calculate the dollar value of birds to Jamaican coffee farmers.

Johnson’s ongoing research of Jamaican birds began while in graduate school at Tulane University. His dissertation was a study of migratory warblers in Jamaica. Just last spring, Johnson returned to Jamaica, this time with a group of HSU students, to collect diet samples from warblers in coffee farms.

For more information, contact Matt Johnson at 707/826-3218 or mdj6@humboldt.edu.