Behavioral/evolutionary ecologist and conservation biologist
1. Coloration in mammals. I study the evolution of coloration in mammals from several angles. Building on a decade of research as to why zebras have stripes, I work with Martin How at Bristol University on tabanid behavior. With Nick Scott-Samuel also at Bristol University, we are exploring coloration in giant pandas. With Ted Stankowich at California State University Long Beach, we use comparative methods to uncover the importance of camouflage, warning coloration and signaling in driving coat coloration in many mammalian groups.
2. Coloration in crabs: With Ossi Nokelainen at Jyvaskyla University and Vicky Morgan at UC Davis, we investigate the function and genetic mechanisms underlying the red/blue color polymorphism in the world’s largest terrestrial arthropod, the coconut crab. With Martin Stevens at Exeter University, we are looking at coloration and defense strategies in decapods. Both are field projects.
3. Defense strategies in animals. With Tom Sherratt and Changku Kang (Carleton and Mokpo National Universities) we are testing the antipredator benefits of flash coloration using computer games with human subjects.
4. Conservation strategies in tropical ecosystems: With Jason Riggio at UC Davis, we are mapping the location of wildlife corridors that link protected areas in Africa; and with Monique Borgerhoff Mulder at UC Davis, we research the extent to which community-based and government-led conservation schemes protect forest patches in the tropics.
5. Relationship of animal behavior to conservation biology: Formerly skeptical of the extent to which behavioral studies can have practical use in conservation, I am now identifying where real disciplinary overlap exists.
6. Practical solutions to conservation problems on mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar: I work with LCMO, a Tanzanian NGO (run by Jonathan Kwiyega and Hans Ngoteya) that is involved in conservation education and preventing traditional lion killing in western Tanzania; and with the Department of Forestry to conserve forests on Pemba Island, Zanzibar.
Written and edited by Tim Caro