Robert Pringle

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The oft-repeated claim that Earth's biota is entering a sixth "mass extinction" depends on clearly demonstrating that current extinction rates are far above the "background" rates prevailing between the five previous mass extinctions. Earlier estimates of extinction rates have been criticized for using assumptions that might overestimate the severity of the(More)
Mutualisms are key components of biodiversity and ecosystem function, yet the forces maintaining them are poorly understood. We investigated the effects of removing large mammals on an ant-Acacia mutualism in an African savanna. Ten years of large-herbivore exclusion reduced the nectar and housing provided by plants to ants, increasing antagonistic behavior(More)
Despite conceptual recognition that indirect effects initiated by large herbivores are likely to have profound impacts on ecological community structure and function, the existing literature on indirect effects focuses largely on the role of predators. As a result, we know neither the frequency and extent of herbivore-initiated indirect effects nor the(More)
Understanding cooperation is a central challenge in biology, because natural selection should favor "free-loaders" that reap benefits without reciprocating. For interspecific cooperation (mutualism), most approaches to this paradox focus on costs and benefits of individual partners and the strategies mutualists use to associate with beneficial partners.(More)
The finding that regular spatial patterns can emerge in nature from local interactions between organisms has prompted a search for the ecological importance of these patterns. Theoretical models have predicted that patterning may have positive emergent effects on fundamental ecosystem functions, such as productivity. We provide empirical support for this(More)
The search for predictions of species diversity across environmental gradients has challenged ecologists for decades. The humped-back model (HBM) suggests that plant diversity peaks at intermediate productivity; at low productivity few species can tolerate the environmental stresses, and at high productivity a few highly competitive species dominate. Over(More)
Studies in community ecology are typically conducted over the span of a few years, and results are often interpreted as the product of contemporary processes and interactions. All landscapes have histories, however, and observed patterns of distribution and abundance frequently reflect enduring legacies of past ecological events, the existence and influence(More)
Understanding food-web dynamics requires knowing whether species assemblages are compartmentalized into distinct energy channels, and, if so, how these channels are structured in space. We used isotopic analyses to reconstruct the food web of a Kenyan wooded grassland. Insect prey were relatively specialized consumers of either C3 (trees and shrubs) or C4(More)
Forest structure strongly influences ambient environmental conditions such as light and temperature, but most studies on habitat selection by mobile organisms have either ignored canopy structure or treated it as a dichotomous variable (e.g., ‘‘shady’’ or ‘‘sunny’’). Furthermore, the predominance of active diurnal species as model organisms in such studies(More)