Dr. Kaitlyn Gaynor
Faculty of Science
My entry point into science was a fascination with animal behavior. As I spent more time observing wild animals, I came to realize that so many aspects of their behavior are shaped by various forms of human disturbance. My interests have since evolved to include the cascading consequences of human disturbance for ecological communities, and the social dimensions of human-wildlife coexistence. My current research program is thus grounded in a fundamental interest in behavioral and community ecology, with an increasingly applied and interdisciplinary focus, and collaboration is my favorite aspect of research. I’m excited to be joining the IBioS Cluster alongside an amazing team of researchers across fields, united by a common goal of improving outcomes for people and biodiversity.
One of my ongoing field research projects is based in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. Gorongosa is the site of a rare biodiversity success story, providing hope for ecosystem restoration on a changing planet. During Mozambique’s civil war, more than 90% of the large mammals in the park were wiped out as food insecurity and conflict drove an increase in hunting. Over the last decade, however, conservation efforts have facilitated a remarkable comeback of Gorongosa’s wildlife. In 2016, my colleagues and I set up a grid of remote, motion-activated camera traps to monitor spatial and temporal patterns in wildlife diversity, distribution, and activity patterns as populations recover. Since then, large carnivores have been reintroduced into the system, offering a natural experiment to better understand predator-prey interactions. We are currently processing recent data downloads on WildCam Gorongosa, our community science platform where volunteers around the world help classify animals in the images while learning about conservation. Our hope is that this longitudinal camera dataset can provide valuable insights into ecosystem recovery in a human-modified landscape.