Cristina Eisenberg has emerged as a leading voice for large predator conservation in North America. Her research has investigated on trophic cascades and the effects of predators on landscape health and biodiversity. Currently a post-doctoral fellow in Oregon State’s School of Forestry, she is a frequent speaker and writer on predator conservation. She is the author of two books, most recently The Carnivore Way: Coexisting with and Conserving North America’s Predators, published this year by Island Press.
GR: Not knowing how ecosystems work, we can’t predict the consequences of our “management” actions. We introduce animals and plants that we discover are destructive invaders of local habitats. We invent pest control chemicals that we discover kill the species that maintain ecosystem productivity. We eradicate dangerous predators and then discover that we needed the predators to regulate prey populations. We learn so very slowly because we do these things and rarely study the consequences.
Predator-prey cycles are an old story (e.g., Leopold 1949). Managers often ignore the little we do know out of fear and avarice, the regulators of bureaucracy.