David Flagel Assistant Professor of the Practice

Cascading effects of mammalian consumers
David Flagel

Research Interests:

My research focuses on the cascading effects of mammalian consumers, specifically how overabundant herbivores and mesopredators (mid-sized predators) affect community structure and biodiversity in forest ecosystems. Humans have eliminated large top predators from much of the world, and in their absence ungulates have become important drivers in the reduction of biodiversity and plant cover through sustained and intensified selective foraging. The loss of top predators has also released several mesopredators from top-down regulation, which has lowered the abundance and biodiversity of small prey species. I am also particularly interested in the use of healthy top predator populations as management tools for mitigating and/or reversing these abundance and biodiversity losses through the generation of trophic cascades. Much of this work is ongoing as part of a long-term research study at UNDERC-East, and I am expanding some of this work to UNDERC-West.



  • Assistant Director of UNDERC-West 2015-Present
  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Science, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, OH 2014–2015
  • Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame 2015
  • B.S., Biology w/ Emphasis on Ecology and Organismal Studies, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh 2008


Recent Papers:

  • Flagel, D.G. 2018. Recovering the ecology of fear: Cascading effects of gray wolf predation and competition in a Great Lakes Basin forest. Pp. 75-87 in Biology, Conservation, and Environmental Management in the Great Lakes Basin (E. Freedman and M. Neuzil, eds.). Routledge, London, U.K.
  • Flagel, D.G., G.E. Belovsky, M.J. Cramer, D.E. Beyer, Jr., and K.E. Robertson. 2017. Fear and loathing in a Great Lakes forest: cascading effects of competition between wolves and coyotes. Journal of Mammalogy 98(1):77-84.
  • Flagel, D.G., G.E. Belovsky, and D.E. Beyer, Jr. 2016. Natural and experimental tests of trophic cascades: Gray wolves and white-tailed deer in a Great Lakes forest. Oecologia 180(4):1183-1194.
  • Flagel, D.G., G.E. Belovsky, and W.E. West. 2016. Digging further into wolf-deer interactions: Food web effects on soil nitrogen availability in a Great Lakes forest. American Midland Naturalist 176(1):147-151.
  • Flagel, D.G., G.H. Adler, and T.D. Lambert. 2009. Influence of seed height on removal rates by rodents in central Panama. Mammalia 73:76-77.