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Tim Caro

Overview I conduct basic and applied biological research principally in Africa. I split my time between UC Davis, Dar es Salaam, and my long term field site in Katavi NP, western Tanzania investigating (a) how anthropogenic forces are affecting large mammal populations in this protected area (Caro 2011), (b) why zebras have black and white stripes (Caro et al 2014), and (c) facilitating development programs there. These are my 2014 projects:

Conservation biology in Tanzania My applied research focuses on conservation issues in Tanzania and Africa. In Katavi I monitor large mammal populations and relate them to anthropogenic pressures such as illegal hunting and changing hydrological conditions. Across the country, I have documented the whereabouts of remaining wildlife corridors with Tim Davenport and Trevor Jones (Caro et al 2009); I work with Andimile Martin on the Lwafi GR (Tanzania to Zambia) corridor, and with Jay Riggio on 4 corridors around Wami-Mbiki WMA. I conducted biological inventories in and around Katavi to catalog how different forms of protection affect biodiversity (Gardner et al. 2007), and to explore how umbrella, indicator and flagship concepts may be useful in conservation (Caro 2010).

Evolution of coloration in mammals My basic research explores the function and evolution of coloration in mammals (Caro 2005a; 2009) using broad scale phylogenetic analyses (e.g., Caro et al. 2011) and detailed field observations and simple experiments on selected species including plains zebra, giant anteaters and skunks. I am interested in a postdoc or a graduate working on giant anteaters in Guyana. Currently, I am writing a book on why zebras have black and white stripes

Adaptive significance of antipredator defenses I collaborate extensively with Ted Stankowich on phylogenetic comparative analyses of defenses (e.g., Stankowich & Caro 2009; Stankowich et al. 2011) and currently on studies of 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).

Linking disciplines: animal behavior and conservation biology With Paul Sherman, I explore linkages between animal behavior and conservation. Many students are keen to apply insights gained in animal behavior over the last 40 years to contemporary loss of species but do not know how to proceed. We are outlining ways to link these disciplines effectively (Caro & Sherman 2011).

Development work in TanzaniaWorking with Tanzanians and Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, we have raised money for a Youth Center in the western part of the country and are facilitating regular visits of Tanzanian students to the national park in which I work ((, and I supervise graduate students both in Tanzania and in the USA. 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.

Some publications
  • Caro, T. 2005a. The adaptive significance of coloration in mammals. BioScience 55: 125-136.
  • 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.
  • Caro, T. 2010. Conservation by Proxy: Indicator, Umbrella, Keystone, Flagship, and Other Surrogate Species. Island Press, Washington, DC.
  • Caro, T. 2011. On the merits and feasibility of wildlife monitoring for conservation: a case study from Katavi National Park, Tanzania. African Journal of Ecology 49, 320-331.
  • Caro, T., K. Beeman, T. Stankowich and H. Whitehead. 2011. The functional significance of coloration in cetaceans. Evolutionary Ecology 25, 1231-1245.
  • Caro, T., A. Izzo, R.C. Reiner, H. Walker, and T. Stankowich. 2014. The function of zebra stripes. Nature Communications DOI: 101038/ncomms4535.
  • Caro, T., T. Jones and T.R.B. Davenport 2009. Realities of documenting wildlife corridors in tropical countries. Biological Conservation 142, 2807-2811.
  • Caro, T. and P.W. Sherman. 2011. Endangered species and threatened discipline: behavioural ecology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26: 111-118.
  • Gardner, T., T. Caro, E. Fitzherbert, T. Banda, and P. Lalbhai. 2007. Conservation value of multiple use areas in East Africa. Conservation Biology 21, 1516-1525.
  • Hunter, J.S. and T. Caro. 2008. Interspecific competition and predation in American carnivore families. Ethology, Ecology and Evolution 20, 295-324.
  • Stankowich, T., T. Caro and M. Cox. 2011. Bold coloration and the evolution of aposematism in terrestrial carnivores.Evolution 65, 3090-3099.
  • Stankowich, T. and T. Caro. 2009. Evolution of weaponry in female bovids. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 4329-4334.
  • Stankowich, T., P.J. Haverkamp, and T. Caro. 2014. Ecological drivers of antipredator defenses in carnivores. Evolution DOI: 10.1111/evo.12356.

    Books by Tim Caro