Ph.D. Student- University of Wyoming
Location: San Guillermo National Park
Research: Strongly Interacting Species: Does Puma Predation on Wild Camelids Structure Biological Diversity in the Semiarid Landscapes of the Andes?
Species/Topic: Guanacos, vicunas and pumas
Abstract: South American camelids (SAC) have dramatically declined throughout their ranges. Such reduction resulted in the loss of the interaction between SAC and their only effective predator, the puma. The community-level consequences of the loss of this interaction remain unknown. Data suggest that the interplay between predators and their prey is critical to maintain biodiversity over large areas. Where they still coexist, we propose that puma predation on SAC is partially responsible for maintaining community structure and biodiversity levels in the landscape they inhabit. This research aims to understand the crucial role that SAC-puma interactions may have on promoting biological diversity, and highlight the importance of conserving populations of top predators and their native prey.