Ecologists find a ‘landscape of fearlessness’ in a war-torn savannah

Monday, Mar 11, 2019

A team of ecologists including Princeton's Rob Pringle, Corina Tarnita, Justine Atkins and Arjun Potter took advantage of a rare opportunity to study what happens to an ecosystem when large carnivores are wiped out (in this case through past civil war). Using a series of experiments in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park, the ecologists confirmed each step in a trophic cascade between the elimination of predators (including leopards, African wild dogs and hyenas) and the growth of local plants. 

“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,” said Pringle, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. Their work appears in the March 8 issue of the journal Science.

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