Andrew Davies Lab Awarded Star-Friedman Challenge

April 29, 2021
Davies Lab Elephant on the African Savannas

Congratulations to Professor Andrew Davies​ and postdoctoral fellow Tyler Coverdale​ awarded Harvard's Star-Friedman Challenge for Promising Scientific Research for their proposal, “Anthropocene Savannas: The Future of Humans, Wildlife & Livestock".

African savannas are among the world’s last ecosystems to support historical densities and diversities of wild, large herbivores, which are central to the ecology and economy of the continent. These same savannas are increasingly being called upon to support growing human and livestock populations which threaten the persistence of these wild animals. Across Africa, the replacement of wildlife with livestock, local extinctions of wild megaherbivores, and active restoration efforts have created a patchwork of “no-analog” megafauna communities unique in the history of the continent​, meaning there is no extinct composition for comparison. The impacts of this​ on savanna ecosystems​ ​remain largely unknown.


With support from the Star-Friedman Challenge, ​Davies & Coverdale plan to investigate the effects of rapidly changing herbivore communities in a Kenyan savanna using an ambitious combination of large-scale megaherbivore manipulations and high-resolution, drone-based remote sensing technology.


The Star-Friedman Challenge for Promising Scientific Research provides seed funding to interdisciplinary high-risk, high-impact projects in the life, physical, and social sciences. Each year, award recipients are invited to refine their projects and discuss their ideas with an interdisciplinary group of scholars at a Challenge event. The 2021 event will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, June 16, from 3:30 to 4:45 pm EDT. Visit the Star-Friedman site for more information:

Image courtesy of Davies Lab