Caro Lab


Overview I conduct basic and applied biological research principally in Africa. I split my time between UC Davis, Dar es Salaam, Pemba Island and Katavi National Park in Tanzania.

Conservation biology Broad scale analyses: I am interested in anthropogenic pressures on protected areas (Caro et al. 2014a), in documenting the whereabouts of remaining wildlife corridors on mainland Tanzania (Caro et al 2009); and implementation of conservation strategies in that country (Caro & Davenport 2015). Fieldwork: On Pemba, I am collaborating with Monique Borgerhoff Mulder on the efficacy of different ways to conserve remaining forest patches.  I work with Amy Collins on Pemba forest health, and with Jay Riggio on corridors in Tanzania. I have explored how umbrella, indicator and flagship concepts may be useful in conservation (Caro 2010).

Evolution of coloration in mammals Broad scale analyses: My basic research investigates the function and evolution of coloration in mammals (Caro 2005a; 2009) using comparative phylogenetic analyses (e.g., Caro et al. 2011). Fieldwork: I use detailed field observations and simple experiments to understand why zebras have black and white stripes (Caro et al. 2014b; Caro & Stankowich 2015), and I am working on coconut crab coloration on Pemba.


Adaptive significance of antipredator defenses I collaborate with Ted Stankowich on phylogenetic comparative analyses of defenses (e.g., Stankowich & Caro 2009; Stankowich et al. 2011) and currently on intraspecific variation in aposematism. I have written a monograph “Antipredator Defenses in Birds and Mammals” (Caro 2005b).


Interspecific competition in carnivores I examine the role that carnivores play in affecting the ecology and evolution of other carnivores employing comparative continental-wide analyses (Hunter & Caro 2008; Stankowich et al. 2014).

Animal behavior and conservation biology I try to uncover linkages between animal behavior and conservation but have found them to be weak (Caro & Riggio 2014). Nonetheless, many students are keen to apply insights from animal behavior saving species but do not know how to proceed. We have outlined ways to link these disciplines effectively (Caro & Sherman 2011). 


Development work in Tanzania Working with Tanzanians and Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, we have raised money for a Youth Center in the western part of the country and are trying to get Tanzanian students into national parks ( Periodically I give advice to the Tanzanian Government about wildlife policy.

I am interested in taking on very committed graduate students, especially minorities and foreigners, and in working with postdocs remotely and at UC Davis.


Selected Publications:

  • Caro, T. 2005a. The adaptive significance of coloration in mammals. BioScience 55: 125-136.pdficon_small.png
  • Caro, T. 2005b. Antipredator Defenses in Birds and Mammals. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  • Caro, T. 2009. Contrasting colouration in terrestrial mammals. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society364: 537-548.pdficon_small.png
  • Caro, T. 2010. Conservation by Proxy: Indicator, Umbrella, Keystone, Flagship, and Other Surrogate Species. Island Press, Washington, DC.
  • Caro, T., K. Beeman, T. Stankowich and H. Whitehead. 2011. The functional significance of coloration in cetaceans. Evolutionary Ecology 25, 1231-1245.pdficon_small.png
  • Caro, T., and T.R.B. Davenport. 2015. Wildlife and wildlife management in Tanzania. Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12658. pdficon_small.png

  • Caro, T., A. Dobson, A.J. Marshall, and C. A. Peres. 2014. Compromise solutions between conservation and road building in the tropics. Current Biology 24, R722-725.pdficon_small.png

  • Caro, T., A. Izzo, R.C. Reiner, H. Walker, and T. Stankowich. 2014. The function of zebra stripes. Nature Communications DOI: 101038/ncomms4535.pdficon_small.png
  • Caro, T., T. Jones and T.R.B. Davenport 2009. Realities of documenting wildlife corridors in tropical countries. Biological Conservation 142, 2807-2811.pdficon_small.png
  • Caro, T., and J. Riggio. 2014. Conservation and behavior of Africa’s “Big Five”. Current Zoology 60, 486-499.pdficon_small.png

  • Caro, T. and P.W. Sherman. 2011. Endangered species and threatened discipline: behavioural ecology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26: 111-118.pdficon_small.png
  • Caro, T., and T Stankowich. 2015. Concordance on zebra stripes: a comment on Larison et al. 2015. Royal Society Open Science 2, 150323.pdficon_small.png

  • Hunter, J.S. and T. Caro. 2008. Interspecific competition and predation in American carnivore families. Ethology, Ecology and Evolution 20, 295-324.pdficon_small.png
  • Stankowich, T., T. Caro and M. Cox. 2011. Bold coloration and the evolution of aposematism in terrestrial carnivores.Evolution 65, 3090-3099.pdficon_small.png
  • Stankowich, T. and T. Caro. 2009. Evolution of weaponry in female bovids. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 4329-4334.pdficon_small.png
  • Stankowich, T., P.J. Haverkamp, and T. Caro. 2014. Ecological drivers of antipredator defenses in carnivores. Evolution DOI: 10.1111/evo.12356.pdficon_small.png

Books by Tim Caro