Acting Assistant Professor
B.A. Anthropology Board of Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
M.A. Department of Anthropology, New York University
M.Phil. Department of Anthropology, New York University
Ph.D. Department of Anthropology, New York University
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246
I teach courses aimed towards students majoring in Biology, Environmental Sciences, and Environmental Studies. As a teacher, my first goal is to help students understand the scientific method and its implications for scientific research, i.e., that science is a historical, evolving, and dynamic human endeavor. My second goal is to get students to move beyond rote memorization of seemingly unconnected factoids – rather, my focus is on the conceptual framework that unites specifics. Activities and assignments in my courses are designed engage students' critical thinking skills and build core competencies in evaluating evidence, understanding the logic of scientific thought, and relate topics in ecology and evolutionary biology to practical, real-world problems. Although I am an ecologist with a focus on mammalian ecology and conservation in tropical landscapes, I have an interdisciplinary background with degrees in anthropology. I encourage students to bring cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives to their studies
I have a final goal for students, and that is to "get their hands dirty." Even introductory courses will present students with opportunities to collect, analyze, and evaluate data. My research includes both lab and fieldwork components that provide mentorship and training opportunities for students at all phases in their academic careers -- I am always looking for students to work with me in my research, in the lab and in the field! Ultimately, I hope to engage all student communities in the biological sciences, and instill a broader understanding of the role of science in understanding and solving the many challenges currently facing our ecosystems and global societies.
Recent Courses Taught
BES 180 Introductory Biology
Research and Scholarship
My main research interests involve the role of matrix habitats (i.e., the usually degraded or human-managed lands beyond protected areas) in mammal conservation in the Neotropics. My most recent research focuses on bats in coffee plantations in the tropics. Specifically, I have been investigating both the relationship between management intensity and bat assemblage structure, and the effects of bat predation on arthropod populations and levels of herbivory in agroecosystems. My research has shown that coffee plantations that incorporate a high degree of shade cover from native tree species have levels of bat diversity that rival those of undisturbed forest, suggesting that these areas can provide valuable alternative habitat for bats and other wildlife. Additionally, I have demonstrated that maintaining bats in coffee plantations can benefit coffee farmers, because insect-eating bats help limit the numbers of insects in coffee plantations, helping to prevent pest outbreaks. This study was the first to quantitatively assess and demonstrate the impact of bats in a tropical agricultural system and was published in the journal Science.
Currently, I am expanding my research on insectivorous bats in Mexican shade coffee plantations. Specifically, I am using molecular methods to describe the diets of these bats, by isolating, amplifying, and identifying insect DNA from bat feces. I am also studying the availability and distribution of arboreal bat roosts in the shade coffee plantations, in order to relate the distribution of bat roosts to locations of high and low bat predation on insects. Additionally, as part of my work as a conservation scientist for the Nicaraguan environmental NGO Paso Pacífico, I am developing research on the diversity and ecosystem services of bats and small mammals in the forest fragments and agricultural areas of southwestern Nicargua.
For my dissertation, I studied the ecology of howler monkeys living in a shade coffee plantation in Mombacho Volcano, Nicaragua. This research demonstrated that shade coffee plantations can serve as core habitat for forest-adapted mammals. After completing my dissertation, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher for the Saint Louis Zoo, based in Bosawás Biosphere Reserve in northern Nicaragua. I collaborated with indigenous Miskito and Mayangna residents in Bosawás to study the population status and subsistence hunting of large mammals and birds. I am also a research scientist with Paso Pacífico, an NGO dedicated to conservation of Central America's remaining fragments of tropical dry forest. This work has focused on monitoring the status of primate populations in forest fragments in western Nicaragua.
Williams-Guillén, K., and I. Perfecto. Responses of insectivorous bats to management intensification in coffee agroforestry systems. Provisionally accepted pending minor revisions, PLoS ONE.
Williams-Guillén, K., and I. Perfecto. 2010. The effects of agricultural intensification on the phyllostomid bats in a coffee landscape in Chiapas, México. Biotropica 42:605-613.
Williams-Guillén, K., I. Perfecto, and J. Vandermeer. 2008. Bats limit insects in a tropical agroforestry system. Science 320:70.
Williams-Guillén, K., C. McCann, J.C. Martínez Sánchez, and F. Koontz. 2006. Resource availability and habitat use by mantled howling monkeys in a Nicaraguan shade coffee plantation. Animal Conservation 9:331-338.