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Joris Cromsigt

Joris Cromsigt
I lead the competence area Zooecology. We study the links between wild animals and the sustainable functioning of ecosystems and human societies in Africa and Europe. We investigate both the consequences of losing wild animals, as well as the effects of restoring wild animal populations and ecosystems (so-called rewilding).


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.


Large parts of our planet are facing a dramatic 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. My team and I study 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 Southern Africa and Europe.

Defaunation & Ecosystem Sustainability
We explore a broad diversity of the consequences of megafaunal loss ranging from biogeochemistry, to fire regimes, and climate-vegetation feedbacks. As an example of a project in this theme, I lead the HOTSPOT program, 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 and one field technician.

Rewilding & Ecosystem Sustainability
Rewilding occurs passively (comeback of species without direct human intervention) 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 and southern Africa, we study the consequences of rewilding for biodiversity, ecosystems, earth system functioning and human well-being.

One example of this theme, is the Wilder Rangelands program through which we investigate how the restoration of natural processes, such as fire and mammalian herbivory, in rangelands (grassy ecosystems that are grazed by large mammalian herbivores) may lead to win-win situations for climate change mitigation, biodiversity restoration and human livelihoods.

Another example is the program WildlifeNL, where we work with a big consortium of academic and non-academic partners to analyze the wildlife comeback and opportunities to faciliate human-wildlife coexistencein the Netherlands. 


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 in collaboration with Nelson Mandela University

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

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

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)


Emilia Staegemann, Resources and risk as drivers of white rhino landscape use, 2027, main supervisor, Nelson Mandela University

Bas Michielsen, Co-creating smart technological solutions for facilitating human-wildlife coexistence, 2027, main supervisor, Utrecht University & SLU

Michelle Louw, Impact of land use on plant diversity and carbon storage in African grassy biomes, 2026, co-supervisor, Utrecht University

Anna Widén, Interacting land uses and impacts of ungulate communities in Sweden, 2023, main supervisor, SLU

Karin Larsson, Grazing and fire – key processes for tree and flowering plant succession, 2023, co- 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, 2023, co-supervisor, University of Groningen

Steven McGregor, Effects of endemic grazers on soil organic carbon in South African Afromontane grasslands, 2023, co-supervisor, Nelson Mandela University



Dr. Lavhelesani Simba, 2021-2023, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa

Dr. Fanilo Andrianisaina, 2022, University of Antananarivo (Madagascar) & SLU

Dr. Robert Spitzer, 2020-2022, SLU

Dr. Sheila Holmes, 2019-2021, SLU

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

Dr. Tim Hofmeester, 2017 – 2019, SLU

Publications list: