Tarleton researchers headed to Africa to study human-wildlife conflict

E-T staff report

Tarleton researchers are headed back to Africa. 

Drs. T. Wayne Schwertner, Heather Mathewson and Jim Muir were recently awarded a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study human-wildlife conflict between livestock producers and wild predators (lions, leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and hyenas) in western Botswana, with the goal of identifying and implementing strategies that foster coexistence of humans and wildlife, according to a social media post from TSU's Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences.

The three-year grant will fund two MS students and four undergraduate researchers from Tarleton, as well as a doctorate student from Texas A&M.

In addition to their African research, students will also participate in a three-month internship in the United States with USDA-Wildlife Services.

Schwertner is an assistant professor at Tarleton and is a research wildlife biologist with Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He has extensive experience conducting research and management of game bird populations, including doves. Prior to coming to Tarleton, Schwertner had a 12-year career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, including duties as the Statewide White-winged Dove Program leader.

Mathewson is an assistant professor at Tarleton. Her research interests include avian ecology, population dynamics, and wildlife habitat relationships, according to the TSU website.

Muir, a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, is Regent’s Professor and Research Scientist with Tarleton and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He is a grassland ecologist focusing on the plant/animal interface. He has research currently ongoing in South Sudan, South Africa, Swaziland, Brazil, and throughout Texas. 

Additional partners on the grant include Dr. Erin Pearce with Tarleton’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Amanda Stronza from Texas A&M University AgriLife Research, and Dr. John Tomecek from Texas A&M University Extension.