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Clark Gray, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Geography

Clark Gray seeks to understand how potentially vulnerable populations in low and middle-income countries are affected by, and respond to, environmental change. He has investigated the consequences of climate change for migration and health across the global tropics, as well as how indigenous populations and livelihoods are changing in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Clark Gray is a population and human-environment geographer interested in the interactions between rural livelihoods, household well-being, and environmental change in the developing world. Drawing on demographic and statistical methods, his research has investigated environmental influences on human migration around the world, indigenous livelihoods in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and human dimensions of soil degradation in rural Uganda. One research strand focuses on the consequences of environmental change for human migration, an issue that has gained considerable attention in the context of global climate change and recent large-scale natural disasters. Gray's research on this topic confirms that environmental factors have important influences on migration, but the results are not consistent with Neo-Malthusian predictions that environmental degradation will universally displace permanent migrants over long distances. Instead, the majority of climate migrants are likely to move temporarily and/or over short distances, and some potential migrants are likely to be trapped in place.

Gray's work has also included the construction of unique longitudinal datasets on (1) indigenous livelihoods and demography in the Ecuadorian Amazon and (2) soil quality and agricultural livelihoods in rural Uganda. Building on a baseline survey conducted with five remote indigenous populations in 2001 by Richard Bilsborrow, Gray and Bilsborrow returned to re-interview these households in 2012 and are now using these data to investigate the patterns and drivers of change in various environmental and demographic behaviors such as hunting, land use, migration and fertility. Work to date has revealed significant declines in wild resource use that appear to be driven by modernization, as well as small declines in fertility paired with large increases in the desire to limit. In Uganda, Gray and collaborators have built on a baseline survey conducted in 2003 to construct a panel dataset on 750 rural households and 2,000 farm plots, with laboratory measurements of soil quality at both time points. These data will be used to investigate relationships between soil degradation, poverty, population growth and out-migration.

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Last Updated: 2020-07-08