Giving Compass' Take:

• In this story from Pacific Standard, author Kate Wheeling discusses the consequences that the extinction of large carnivores would have on ecosystems,

• What options do nonprofits and conservation advocates have to address the declining populations of large carnivores? What additional research could be done to better understand the problem and decide the most effective next steps?

• For a a full guide on environmental issues, click here.

In 2015, researchers studying antelope behavior in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park noticed that some bushbucks were acting strangely. Typically a forest-dwelling antelope species, the herbivores rely on tree cover to hide from predators that stalk grassy, open landscapes during the dry season. But some bold bushbucks were now wandering out into the treeless floodplain of Lake Urema to forage.

The park's wildlife populations had plummeted during Mozambique's civil war, a 16-year conflict that ended in 1992. While herbivore species have returned to the park since then, large carnivores—like leopards, wild dogs, hyenas, and lions—have yet to bounce back to their pre-conflict populations. In a new study, published in Science, the researchers found that reintroducing top predators to the park might lead the herbivores to fear the floodplain once again.

The researchers also found that the expansion of bushbuck territory into the floodplain could be shaping the ecosystem's plant communities. The team identified a species of waterwort that few other plains-dwelling herbivores consumed—Bergia mossambicensis—and set up wire-mesh cages around some of the plants on the floodplain. The caged plants thrived, while the uncaged plants nearby were devoured by the bushbuck. According to [Princeton Professor Justine] Atkins, their findings underscore the cascading effects that the loss of large carnivores can have on ecosystems, beyond the animals they kill for food.

Read the full article about large carnivores by Kate Wheeling at Pacific Standard