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The Young Lab 

I am a community ecologist.  Research in our lab is quite diverse, but generally focuses on increasing our understanding of the effects of wildlife loss and human disturbance on community structure and ecosystem function. Recent work has focused particularly on effects of wildlife loss on human health and well-being. 

 We look at these questions in a variety of systems, including sites in East Africa, Pacific Islands, and coastal California.  We work at both local and global scales, and use a range of observational, experimental, and meta-analytical approaches.

News from the lab

  • March 2015- Our new paper studying the context dependent effects of large wildlife declines is featured on the cover of Ecological Applications. PDF Link

  • February 2015- Hillary's book review of Gaia Vince's Adventures in the Anthropocene is in the current issue of Science. PDF Link

  • February 2015- We have a new paper out comparing the prevalence of plague between conserved and agricultural landscapes in Tanzania. PDF Link


    Click here for more media coverage.

  • January 2015- Our new paper examining the drivers of flea parasitism on small mammals in East Africa is out in Journal of Parasitology. Link

  • January 2015- We collaborated on a paper looking at the effects of introduced coconut palms on native trees on Palmyra Atoll. PDF Link
  • December 2014- We have a new paper out in Biological Conservation that examines the potential of pelagic marine protected areas to protect foraging habitat for seabirds in the central Pacific. Access the paper here: PDF Link

  • October 2014- Research from the Young lab informs creation of world's largest marine protected area, in the Central Pacific. Learn more here

  • September 2014- Our new paper exploring both positive and negative effects of an endangered parrotfish on reef ecosystems is on the cover of this month's issue of Conservation Biology, and is reviewed by BBC. PDF Link



  • Our new review featured in Science on vanishing wildlife, entitled "Defaunation in the Anthropocene," examines both the magnitude and ecological consequences of animal declines in an age of humans.  The article is available here: PDF Link


    Cover image expansion







    Click here for more media coverage.



  • The Young lab has collaborated on a new paper exploring the importance of sensitive lagoon habitats to the foraging of manta rays.  Read more about it here PDF Link





  • Congratulations Sean Nguyen for receiving awards from the College of Creative studies AND from IGERT network sciences program for his research!


  • Check out our new commentary piece in Biological conservation (Link), and the original piece that instigated this discussion on conservation at the edges of the world (Link)

  • Check out Hilary's new article in PNAS on effects of wildlife decline on rodent-borne disease and the following press releases (links below). PNAS paper: PDF Link



  • Click here for more media coverage.


  • Hillary is a co-author on a new paper in Ecology examining the effects of biodiversity on disease. PDF Link

  • Hillary has been awarded a grant from the Morris Animal Foundation for work on a new wild dog project in collaboration with Rosie Woodroffe and Robert Fleischer.

  • We have a new paper available online early in Journal of Tropical Ecology.

  • Congratulations to Georgia Titcomb for her receipt of the UCSB Chancellor’s award.

  • Congratulations to Devyn Orr for her receipt of a UCSB Graduate Opportunity Fellowship.

  • We welcome Elizabeth Forbes, Devyn Orr, and Georgia Tittcomb as new graduate students in the lab beginning in fall 2014!

  • Hillary is a co-PI on a new grant with Kris Helgen, awarded from Smithsonian Institution’s Grand Challenges Consortia for new work on carnivore declines in East Africa over the last 100 years.