Caro Lab

Tim Caro

tmcaro@ucdavis.edu

Behavioral/evolutionary ecologist and conservation biologist

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Coloration, conservation and charismatic species

Research areas

1. Coloration in mammals. My principal research agenda in 2021 is to understand the evolutionary and ecological factors shaping the external appearances of mammals. I use phylogenetic methods to make comparisons across species, sophisticated photographic analyses to comprehend how mammals match their background (giant pandas and black-and-white colobus), and simple experiments with horses to understand why zebras are striped. I work with Martin How, Natasha Howell, Ossi Nokelainen, Nick Scott-Samuel, Catherine Sheard, Ted Stankowich and Sandra Winters on these projects.

2. Coloration in crabs: Working with undergraduates, we use comparative methods to appreciate the adaptive significance of crab and anemone coloration and defence strategies and will start simple field experiments in 2021. In addition, I study the function and genetic mechanisms underlying the red/blue color polymorphism in the world’s largest terrestrial arthropod, the coconut crab at my field site in Pemba, Zanzibar. I work together with Vicky Morgan and Martin Stevens.

3. Conservation strategies in tropical ecosystems: I am interested in the effectiveness of community-based, government-led and NGO conservation projects to protect remaining forest patches and natural ecosystems in Tanzania. I join forces with Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Andy Dobson, Alex Piel and Jason Riggio on these projects.

4. Practical solutions to conservation problems on mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar: I work with LCMO, a Tanzanian NGO that is involved in conservation education and preventing traditional lion killing in western Tanzania; with the Department of Forestry to conserve forests and coconut crabs on Pemba Island, Zanzibar; and with Chumbe Island Coral Park, Zanzibar to protect coconut crabs. I collaborate with Ulli Kloiber, Jonathan Kwiyega and Emmanuel Stephens.

Written and edited by Tim Caro

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