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Karen Marie Pedersen


PhD Candidate TU Darmstadt


Community-based environmental conservation volunteer-Perú


Masters Student Wright State University


Research assistant primate behavior,

Puerto Rico


Wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education intern Brukner Nature Center


Study of Biology at the Wright State University



 Research interests     


I am currently working towards my PhD within the Ecological Networks group at TU Darmstadt, and I am also a member of the REASSEMBLY working group. REASSEMBLY is a German-Ecuadorian collaboration working within the Ecuadorian Chocó.

I have taken a non-traditional path to a doctoral program. While I think I always knew I would get my doctorate, instead of applying right after my bachelor's degree program, I began to work in wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education. I later worked in sustainable development in Peru. These experiences, in addition to my formal education and teaching at the university level, have provided me with interesting life experiences, perspectives, and skills that I use to inform my research methods and research questions.

Within the context of REASSEMBLY, I study dung beetle trophic network reassembly across a forest recovery gradient in the Ecuadorian Chocó. Dung beetles are good predictors of habitat quality. First, because they are sensitive to environmental changes brought about by deforestation and because they depend upon medium to large-bodied mammals for sustenance. This means they will be indicators of both habitat conversion and hunting pressures.

Of the many themes I address in my research into dung beetle trophic networks, I find two of my methodologies most exciting. First, I use dung beetle gut content DNA to create dung beetle-mammal dung networks. This method allows us to overcome some of the logistical issues around procuring enough different types of mammal dung for large-scale experiments of dung beetle-mammal dung networks. The second is modular insect camera traps, which allow for more detailed studies of dung removal and secondary seed dispersal by dung beetles. The cameras themselves are highly customizable, which allows them to be optimized for the research question and study organism.





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B1|01, Room 264 

Karen Marie Pedersen

Biology Department

Technische Universität Darmstadt

Schnittspahnstr. 3

64287 Darmstadt



 Research projects  








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