Tim Caro

image of Tim Caro

Professor of Wildlife Biology


Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Center for Population Biology

Offices and Labs

1088 Academic Surge Building

Profile Introduction

Animal coloration, biodiversity conservation in the tropics, linking behavioral ecology and conservation biology.


1979 PhD Zoology/Psychology University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom

Research Contribution

I am trying to understand the evolution of coloration in mammals. We learn about the colors of animals as children - giant pandas, zebras, and polar bears - but biologists still do not understand why these color patterns evolved. I use simple field experiments, phylogenetic analyses and comparative data to understand the function of coat color in species ranging from zebras to giant anteaters. I am trying to uncover the best ways of conserving biodiversity and large mammal abundance in the tropics, often focusing on Tanzania where I work for a third of the year. I therefore compare different sorts of legal protection, monitor large mammal populations over time, and work with authorities to find a way to preserve important habitats.

Research Interests

Coloration, Behavior, and Conservation Biology

Evolution of coloration in animals; antipredator strategies in birds and mammals; methods of conserving tropical diversity, linking animal behavior and conservation biology; interspecific predation in mammals.


Fellow of the Linnaen Society

Department and Center Affiliations

Center for Population Biology
Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology


International Society for Behavioral Ecology
Animal Behavior Society
Society for Conservation Biology

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Animal Behavior
Population Biology

Specialties / Focus

Animal Behavior
  • Behavior Ecology and Sociobiology
  • Behavior and Conservation

Graduate Groups not Housed in CBS

Ecology Graduate Group

Field Sites


Teaching Interests

I teach Animal Coloration, and Behavioral Ecology. I conduct research with undergrads on datasets that examine the function of coloration from a comparative standpoint.


WFC 141 Behavioral Ecology (Winter)
WFC 160 Animal Coloration (Spring)

Personal Interests

I am interested in taking on graduate students who want to understand the evolution of coloration, those wanting to work on contemporary conservation problems in the tropics, and those who are minorities.


1/25/2011 8:02:39 PM
  • Caro, T. 2016.  Zebra Stripes. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

  • Caro T. 2010. Conservation by Proxy: Indicator, Umbrella, Keystone, Flagship, and Other Surrogate Species. Island Press, Washington DC. 374pp.
  • Caro T. 2005. Antipredator Defenses in Birds and Mammals. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 572pp.

  • Caro T. 1998. Behavioral Ecology and Conservation Biology. Oxford University Press, New York, 582 pp.

  • Caro TM. 1994. Cheetahs of the Serengeti Plains: Group Living in an Asocial Species. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 478 pp.