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Biology graduate publishes research on perception of elephant impact on ecosystem

WKU biology graduate Adam Edge of Shepherdsville is the lead author of a paper titled “Examining Human Perception of Elephants and Large Trees for Insights into Conservation of an African Savanna Ecosystem” that has been published in the journal Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

Adam Edge

Edge, who was a student in the Honors College at WKU and a FUSE grant recipient, conducted the work in South Africa in conjunction with Dr. Michelle Henley, Co-Founder and Director of Elephants Alive, and under the tutelage of Dr. Jerry Daday, Associate Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Center for Faculty Development & the Online Learning Research Office, and his Honors thesis advisor Dr. Bruce A. Schulte, head of the Department of Biology.

The study used a questionnaire to determine the perceptions of residents and tourists on elephants, large tree and elephant management practices in the Associate Private Nature Reserves around Kruger National Park in South Africa. Elephants modify savanna habitat by breaking and feeding on tree branches and even knocking down trees. The objective was to evaluate people’s perceptions toward elephants, a primary draw for tourism, and habitat with intact trees and those modified in form by elephants. (More: Read the research project abstract.)

Following his experience in South Africa, Edge worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on migrating salmon escapement counts as the fish returned upriver to spawn. Following his graduation from WKU in May 2014, he held several wildlife technician positions, which included working for Louisiana State University to aid with a wild turkey reproductive ecology study, assisting the University of Missouri with a deer survival study, and currently working for the Fort Knox Department of Natural Resources to manage wildlife habitat.

“Through these experiences I have found my passion in the field of wildlife conservation, and it is an amazing feeling to see my work employed for real-world situations,” said Edge, who is studying whitetail deer conservation and management as a graduate student at the University of Georgia. “I am grateful for the support I have received along the way, and I hope to keep building strong relationships with those around me. I can humbly say that this is all in the name of where I found my beginning…Western Kentucky University.”

Read more about Edge’s research publication

Contact: Bruce Schulte, (270) 745-4856


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