Advisor: Os Schmitz
Environmental managers today face the challenge of conserving large carnivores amidst a variety of human-driven threats, such as illegal killing and expanding development. Reintroduction is a popular solution for conserving threatened species and restoring ecosystem function that often generates substantial costs to the livelihood and personal security of human communities outside protected areas. Traditional management approaches commonly ignore humans as a potential driver of human-wildlife conflict, yet humans can play a significant role in shaping ecosystems.
With our limited sense of human coupling to natural systems, it is currently unclear indirect interactions between humans, predators and prey may actually provoke human-wildlife conflict through negative feedbacks on livelihoods, such as livestock attacks. The recent reintroduction of tigers into Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India, provides an ideal opportunity to explore the effect of human activities on interactions between a threatened large carnivore and its prey.
To address this question, my dissertation research will compare the abundance, distribution and anti-predation behavior of the tiger’s principal prey species, nilgai antelope, in “tiger” versus “no-tiger" areas under varying intensities of human activity over time.
More information can be found on my project website and on my page at the Schmitz Lab.