Alec Getraer, 2019, Undeclared
This summer, I assisted the Pringle Lab in their ongoing field research at the E.O. Wilson Lab in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. Gorongosa National Park is currently in the midst of an ambitious restoration and conservation project, aimed at revitalizing local communities and returning the park to its former glory, following its near ecological collapse durring the recent civil war. The Pringle Lab is focusing on studies that further our understanding of community ecology within African savannas, including specific phenomena relating to the restoration of Gorongosa. Alongside three graduate students, I investigated the impacts of fire and termite-driven heterogeneity on savanna vegetation through vegetation surveys, and collected and subsampled ungulate feces to determine dietary niches and study seed dispersal. I also examined the impact of waterbuck abundance on plants and animals in a critical wetland ecosystem. In addition to gaining experience conducting field research and learning an immense amount about African ecosystems, I also witnessed firsthand many of the issues that impact modern conservation and humanitarian efforts in developing countries. My experience this summer has cemented my decision to study ecology and evolutionary biology and my desire to pursue conservation-minded field research of my own.