“One was to use the sounds and scents of large carnivores to simulate risk — the idea was to try to scare the bushbuck into thinking that predators were present and see how that affected their behavior.”. Pringle was able to mimic naturally occurring introductions of new competitors and predators and then track what happens in real time,” said Jodie Jawor, a program director at the National Science Foundation, which funded this research. The plants in the plains are very nutritious, and the bushbuck that have colonized those areas are bigger and in better shape than their counterparts in the forest. Most recently, I studied at Emory University on a Bobby Jones Scholarship, where I approached animal behavior from new angle, researching canine cognitive neuroscience via awake fMRI. There, I help to oversee several large-scale and small-scale field experiments focusing on how termites and large mammalian herbivores affect plant and animal communities. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 8 (8), 932-940. [Curriculum Vitae (PDF)], Broadly, I am interested in how ecological communities are assembled, maintained, and in what underpins their variation in space and time. Invading predators can devastate an ecosystem. In the Pringle lab, I will conduct the first DNA metabarcoding analyses of the diet composition and niche relationships of herbivorous birds – Ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus), guineafowl (Acryllium vultirinum and Numida meleagris), spurfowl (Pternistis leucoscepus), and bustard (Eupodotis gindiania) – at Mpala Research Centre in Kenya. “The elimination of predators broke the rules that ordinarily govern where herbivores go and what they eat, and that has effects all the way through the food chain.”. [Website]. 2017.
During my PhD, I studied the dynamic temporal component of ‘landscapes of fear’ across eastern and southern Africa (primarily in Serengeti National Park). I'm a graduate student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) department. My research interests focus on determining the presence and distribution of species and how community structure is influenced by environmental stochasticity, meta-population dynamics, and predation pressure. I have a particular interest in both predator-prey and predator-predator interactions, and in the Pringle lab, hope to research how they influence behavior and food web dynamics in African ecosystems. Despite their importance, we are just beginning to understand how trophic interactions and resource selection change …
“Human activity is increasing the occurrence of new predators being introduced to formerly isolated ecosystems,” he said. During my PhD and first post-doc I developed techniques to implement eDNA within terrestrial settings to survey for introduced insect species before their population densities increase and they cause substantial damage. The field work was not the tropical vacation that many imagine, Pringle said.
This intensified the competition between the two prey species for space and food, which undermined their ability to coexist. “That’s a tragic thing, but what it does is enable us to study how behavior and ecology changes when the predators are removed,” said Robert Pringle, an associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and the senior author on the paper. I’m definitely not complaining. “This careful study suggests that the interplay between predators, prey and the plants they eat is more flexible than previously thought,” said Michelle Elekonich, a program director at the National Science Foundation, which provided funding for this research. Photo/Video Credits A solitary bushbuck grazes on the floodplain near Lake Urema in Gorongosa National Park. In the meantime, Johan has moved on to a prestigious Marie Skłodowski-Curie Fellowship, based with CSIRO (in Sydney, making us jealous again…), Tyler came into the lab as a phenom out of Brown University. This leads to the opposite outcome from the classical keystone predation scenario; Pringle’s team called it “refuge competition.”. Here at Princeton, I am studying large herbivores in Africa and the plants that they eat (basically this involves driving around picking up herbivore poop in Mozambique; glamorous!) She is going to be a life-saving physician someday soon, and we were very fortunate to have her in our orbit for a few years. So our findings not only give us some clues about how to manage future predator introductions, but also a better understanding of how past extinctions may have arisen as well.”. I graduated in 2018 with BSc in Zoology from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where I studied the impacts of prey group shape on detection by birds, and later the effect of predator avoidance on longevity in reptiles and amphibians. There, the risk of predation is low, but then these areas become crowded, and competition becomes intense. Undergraduate Lauren Wyman (Class of 2014) contributed to the fieldwork, and she and Annie Ferlmann (Class of 2016) both did senior theses using data from this project. Matthew Botvinick is an expert in cognitive control and performance monitoring. Campbell. She and a team of colleagues found evidence that reintroducing key carnivores in a large-mammal ecosystem could undo the damage caused by their removal. We have yet to meet his match in terms of expertise in mammalian physiological ecology, movement ecology, and their interface. “Large carnivores play a critical, and disproportionate, role in their ecosystems, and their populations are declining worldwide,” said Justine Atkins, a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton. My undergraduate thesis, which I completed in the Pringle Lab, examined gut microbiome composition of savanna herbivores across eastern and southern Africa. The first is assessing how systematically introducing top predators in an island system influences the community composition of the entire arthropod community, using uninhabited Bahamian islands as the study system. It’s been a blast. But prey can also respond to predators in ways that reduce their likelihood of getting eaten — like hiding in trees, as the brown anoles did.
Atkins simulated the predators’ return by playing recordings of leopard calls and distributing simulated scat and urine. He is among the inaugural cohort of Presidential Postdoctoral Fellows at Cornell University, where he is working with Anurag Agrawal. The results suggest that when prey can respond rapidly to the presence of a predator by changing their behavior, predators might typically reduce the ability of prey species to coexist. According to the keystone predator theory, top predators can prevent any one prey species from becoming too abundant and outcompeting all the other prey species, which should generally increase the diversity of the species at low levels of the food chain. [Website] [Curriculum Vitae (PDF)], Josh was the inaugural Pringleton, our first PhD Student. Some of the more recent examples of catastrophic species extinction, such as the collapse of a really diverse group of fish species in the African great lakes, may have occurred in part because there simply wasn’t enough safe space in those ecosystems. Matthew has 2 jobs listed on their profile.
The researchers traveled to 16 small islands in the Bahamas that they used as experimental ecosystems. They spent years designing and executing a study that looked at every link in the hypothesized chain of effects between the absent predators and the plants of the Gorongosa plains.
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