Luca Kuziel ’21

Major

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project Title

Ecological Dynamics of African Herbivores During the Reintroduction of Leopards

Presentation Link

View Luca's Presentation

I worked in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park on a study of how large herbivores — which were accustomed to a relatively predator-free environment — would respond to the reintroduction of predators such as leopards. This is important for park management as predator reintroduction is a crucial step for recovering ecosystems. It also is interesting from a theoretical standpoint. To conduct the research, we studied the feeding and watching behavior of antelope to measure how safe they seemed to feel. We also wanted to understand their diets, which can shed light on resource use within the ecosystem, as well as on how the animals feed when they feel safe or threatened. To that end, we collected dung samples from which plant DNA can be extracted to determine antelope diet and health. I learned a huge amount about fieldwork and methods in ecology, such as how to build a small experiment. It was incredible to be involved in every step. Working in the field in a stunning and healthy park reaffirmed my love of nature and has set me on a path to a career in conservation biology and restoration ecology.



Internship Year

2018

Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation

Organization(s)

Pringle Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University- Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique

Mentor(s)

Pringle Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University Mentor(s): Robert Pringle, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Matthew Hutchinson, Ph.D. candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Arjun Potter, Ph.D. candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology