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Joris Cromsigt

Joris Cromsigt
Large parts of our planet are currently facing a dramatic and rapid loss of the world’s last wild megafauna (mammalian herbivores and carnivores > 40kgs). If this so-called defaunation continues, near future mammal communities will consist of few species of smaller body size. In contrast, parts of particularly the northern hemisphere experience a megafaunal rewilding and see populations of large carnivores and herbivores increase. Defaunation and rewilding may both have huge consequences for the sustainable functioning of socio-ecological systems. I lead the Animal Ecology Competence Area at the department and, among other things, lead research on the patterns and processes of defaunation and rewilding and the consequences for sustainable functioning of ecosystems as well as human society. We study systems all over the world, with a special focus on Europe, Southern Africa and South America.


I teach in a variety of courses and topics at both MSc and PhD level, including adaptive wildlife management, trophic ecology, megafaunal ecology, conservation biology and experimental design.


Defaunation & Ecosystem Sustainability
We study the effects of so-called megaherbivores, such as white rhino and elephant, on the functioning of South African ecosystems. Megaherbivores (> 1,000 kgs as adult) are said to have disproportionate effects on ecosystems because their populations are not controlled by predation. Current rampant poaching of rhino and elephant is threatening the survival of these last remaining megaherbivores. We explore a broad diversity of the consequences of their loss ranging from biogeochemistry, to fire regimes, and climate-vegetation feedbacks.

As part of this theme I lead the HOTSPOT program, 2017-2022, which focuses on the white rhino poaching crisis in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa. The program has two main objectives: (1) increasing our understanding of white rhino movement patterns and population ecology and (2) investigating the ecological effects of losing white rhino. The team currently includes one PhD, one Postdoc and one field technician.

Rewilding & Ecosystem Sustainability
In contrast to large parts of the world, Europe is experiencing a revival of several larger mammal species, including large carnivore such as wolf, ungulates, and larger bird species. This rewilding occurs passively or through active (re)introductions of large mammals. The aim of active rewilding is to mitigate effects of global change (such as biodiversity loss) and restore top-down trophic interactions and associated ecosystem structure and functioning. In a variety of projects across Europe, we study the consequences of rewilding, including the effects of introductions of European bison and red deer in the Netherlands and the consequences of the large carnivore comeback in Europe.

Within this latter theme, I recently finished a major research program, BEYOND MOOSE, which studied the consequences of strong increases in several European deer species with a focus on the ecology and management of multispecies ungulate communities in Sweden. The program currently included 3 PhD students and several senior scientists.


2011-ongoing, Dept. Wildlife, Fish & Environmental Sciences, SLU, Umeå

2009-2011, Marie Curie Intra-European postdoctoral fellow, Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, University of Oslo, Norway

2008-2009, Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow, Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland

2006-2007, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Groningen, the Netherlands

2001-2006, PhD, University of Groningen, the Netherlands

1999-2000, MSc, Wageningen University, the Netherlands


Graduated PhD students

Dr. Olli Hyvärinen, Ecological cascading effects of white rhino poaching, 2022, main supervisor, SLU

Dr. Nannet Fabri, Role of different deer species in spread of tick-borne diseases, 2022, main supervisor, SLU & Utrecht University

Dr. Anne Loosen, Trade-offs in a managed landscape: spatio-temporal moose foraging and spatial predation risk, 2021, co-supervisor, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

Dr. Sabine Pfeffer, Understanding Wildlife-Human Conflicts in Species-rich European Ungulate communities, 2021, co- supervisor, SLU, Umeå

Dr. Robert Spitzer, Resource Utilization Patterns of European Ungulates along Land Use and Species Richness Gradients, 2019, main supervisor, SLU, Umeå

Dr. Liza le Roux, The Role of Apex Predators in Ecosystem Function: Fear Triggered Cascades Regulated by Differential Prey Vulnerability, 2017, main supervisor, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa

Dr. Nokubonga Mgqatsa, Tree-toppling by Elephants and its Consequences in the Thicket Mosaic Vegetation of Addo Elephant National Park, 2017, co-supervisor, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa

Dr. Ellinor Sahlén, Indirect Effects of Predation in Human-Modified Landscapes, 2016, co-supervisor, SLU, Umeå

Dr. Cleo Gosling, Biotic Determinants of Heterogeneity in a South African Savanna, 2014,  co- supervisor, University of Groningen, the Netherlands

Dr. Ruth Nichols, Bite DNA: Fine-Scale Resource Partitioning in Temperate Ungulates, 2013, co- supervisor, SLU, Umeå

PhD students still to graduate (with year of expected graduation)

Anna Widén, Interacting land uses and impacts of ungulate communities in Sweden, 2022, main supervisor, SLU

Bjorn Mols, Large carnivores in anthropogenic landscapes: how landscapes of fear created by humans and large carnivores affect deer behaviour and structure ecosystems, 2022, co-supervisor, University of Groningen

Karin Larsson, Grazing and fire – key processes for tree and flowering plant succession, 2022, co- supervisor, SLU


Dr. Lavhelesani Simba, 2021-2022, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa

Dr. Liza le Roux, 2017-2019, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa

Dr. Tim Hofmeester, 2017–2019, SLU

Dr. Sheila Holmes, 2019–2021, SLU

Selected publications

Pansu, J., Hutchinson, M. C., Anderson, T. M., Te Beest, M., Begg, C. M., Begg, K. S., ... & Pringle, R. M. (2022). The generality of cryptic dietary niche differences in diverse large-herbivore assemblages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(35), e2204400119.

Hyvarinen, O., Te Beest, M., le Roux, E., Kerley, G., de Groot, E., Vinita, R., & Cromsigt, J. P. (2021). Megaherbivore impacts on ecosystem and Earth system functioning: the current state of the science. Ecography, 44(11), 1579-1594.

Amsten, K., Cromsigt, J. P., Kuijper, D. P., Loberg, J. M., Churski, M., & Niklasson, M. (2021). Fire‐and herbivory‐driven consumer control in a savanna‐like temperate wood‐pasture: An experimental approach. Journal of Ecology, 109(12), 4103-4114.

Veldhuis, M. P., Hofmeester, T. R., Balme, G., Druce, D. J., Pitman, R. T., & Cromsigt, J. P. (2020). Predation risk constrains herbivores’ adaptive capacity to warming. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 4(8), 1069-1074.

Veldhuis MP, Kihwele ES, Cromsigt JPGM, Ogutu JO, Hopcraft JGC, Owen-Smith N and Olff H. 2019. Large herbivore assemblages in a changing climate: incorporating water dependence and thermoregulation. Ecology Letters 22(10), 1536-1546.

le Roux E, Marneweck D, Clinning G, Druce DJ, Kerley GIH and Cromsigt JPGM. 2019. Top-down limits on prey populations may be more severe in larger prey species, despite having fewer predators. Ecography 42: 1115-1123.

Hofmeester TR, Cromsigt JPGM, Odden J, Andrén H, Kindberg J and Linnell JDC. 2019. Framing pictures: a conceptual framework to identify and correct for biases in detection probability of camera traps enabling multi-species comparison. Ecology and Evolution 9: 2320-2336.

Fayolle A, Swaine MD, Aleman J, Azihou AF, Bauman D, te Beest M, Chidumayo EN, Cromsigt JPGM, Finck M, Gonçalves FMP, Gillet J-F, Gorel A, Hick A, Holdo R, Kirunda B, Mahy G, McNicol I, Ryan CM, Revermann R, Plumptre A, Pritchard R, Nieto-Quintano P, Schmitt CB, Seghieri J, Swemmer T, Talila H, Woollen E. 2019. A sharp floristic discontinuity revealed by the biogeographic regionalization of African savannas. Journal of Biogeography 46: 454-465.

Cromsigt JPGM, te Beest M, Kerley GIH, Landman M, le Roux E and Smith FA. 2018. Trophic rewilding as a climate change mitigation strategy? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 373: 20170440.

Le Roux E, Kerley GIH and Cromsigt JPGM. 2018. Megaherbivores modify trophic cascades triggered by fear of predation in an African savanna ecosystem. Current Biology 28: 2493-2499.

Cromsigt JPGM, Kemp YJM, Rodriguez E and Kivit H. 2018. Rewilding Europe’s large grazer community: how functionally diverse are the diets of European bison, cattle and horse? Restoration Ecology 26: 891-899.

Cromsigt JPGM, Archibald S and Owen-Smith N (editors). 2017. Conserving Africa’s Mega-Diversity in the Anthropocene: the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park story. Ecology, Biodiversity and Conservation Series, Cambridge University Press.

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