Tyler Kartzinel, PhD
Post-doctoral Research Associate, Princeton University
I grew up exploring the outdoors and loving nature. As a double-major in Biology and Environmental Studies at Rollins College, I both honed the technical skills that I would need to conduct biological research and developed an appreciation for the complexity of historic, scientific, social, and economic factors required for effective conservation. I earned my Ph.D. from the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, where my research focused on the ecology of rare orchids in Costa Rica. Through this work, I began to combine cutting-edge genetic tools with ecological field experiments—a theme that continues in my research as a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University.
My research combines large-scale fieldwork with DNA-based tools to uncover natural processes that are rare or difficult to observe. A major focus of my research at Gorongosa revolves around improving our understanding of consequences that follow the functional extinction of large mammals in African savannas. Similarly, and with greater relevance to the future of Gorongosa, this research should help us better anticipate trials and tribulations of repatriating large mammals to their native ecosystems. In particular, I am using DNA-based tools to learn about what types of plants the herbivorous mammals are eating around Gorongosa in unprecedented detail.
Gorongosa National Park is an ecological gem, comprising multiple ecosystems that are fundamentally important to both the conservation of biodiversity and the livelihoods of communities. This, in combination with the thoughtful nexus of diverse scientific researchers, specialists in conservation and community relations, and leaders in public outreach through tourism and communication, make me confident that my basic scientific research will make a difference.