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Craig Packer

Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Director - Lion Research Center


Support conservation and research efforts at the Lion Research Center

Craig Packer was born in Texas and received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1972. While still at Stanford, Packer went to Tanzania to study baboons with Jane Goodall at the Gombe Stream Research Centre. He then went to the University of Sussex to complete his Ph.D. research on the Gombe baboons. After a study of Japanese macaques in Hakusan National Park, Packer returned to Tanzania in 1978 to head the Serengeti lion project. He subsequently held a post-doctoral position at the University of Chicago and joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1983, returning to the Serengeti for several months each year. Packer received a J.S. Guggenheim Fellowship in 1990, became a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in 1997, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. He is the author of “Into Africa,” which won the 1995 John Burroughs medal, and more than 100 scientific articles, most of which are about lions. His research has been supported primarily by grants from the National Science Foundation.

Graduate Faculty Memberships

Ecology, Evolution and Behavior


Packer, C. 1994. Into Africa. University of Chicago Press.

Selected Publications
  • 2020    Beaudrot, L., Palmer, M., Anderson, T. & C. Packer. Mixed-species groups of Serengeti grazers: A test of the stress gradient hypothesis. Ecology. (in press).
  • 2019    Packer, C., S. Shivakumar, M.E. Craft, H. Dhanwatey, P. Dhanwatey, B. Gurung, A. Joshi, H. Kushnir, V. Athreya, J.D.C. Linnell & N.M. Fountain-Jones.  Species-specific spatiotemporal patterns of leopard, lion and tiger attacks on humans. J. Applied Ecology 56: 585– 593. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13311
  • 2018    Palmer, M.S., A. Swanson M. Kosmala, T. Arnold & C. Packer. Evaluating relative abundance indices for terrestrial herbivores from large‐scale camera trap surveys. African Journal of Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/aje.12566
  • 2017    Tilman, D., M. Clark, D.R. Williams, K. Kimmel, S. Polasky, C. Packer. Future threats to biodiversity and pathways to their prevention. Nature 546, 73-81. doi:10.1038/nature22900 
  • 2016    Anderson, T.M. Staci White, B. Davis, R. Erhardt, M. Palmer, M. Kosmala, A. Swanson, Craig Packer The spatial and temporal distribution of African savannah herbivores: species associations and habitat occupancy in a landscape context. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 371: DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0314
  • 2015    Bauer, H., K. Nowell, P. Henschel, P. Funston, G. Chapron, L. Hunter, D.W. Macdonald & C. Packer.  Lion (Panthera leo) populations are declining rapidly across Africa, except in intensively managed areas. PNAS 112(48) 14894-14899.  
  • 2014    Swanson, A., T. Caro, H. Davies-Mostert, M.G.L. Mills, D.W. Macdonald, M. Borner, E. Masenga & C. Packer. Cheetahs and wild dogs show contrasting patterns of suppression by lions. Journal of Animal Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12231
Additional Links

Whole Village Project

Lion Research Center

612-625-5729 Fax: 612-624-6777

506 Ecology
1987 Upper Buford Circle
St. Paul, MN 55108