Lindsay Martinez, 2019, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
I spent my summer internship living and working at the Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia County, Kenya. Mpala is home to many species of both wild and domesticated animals. While working on the parasite project, I focused on observing plains zebras, the rare Grévy’s zebras, and domestic donkeys. The parasite of interest in the project is the strongyle, a nematode found in the gastrointestinal track of the aforementioned equines whose numbers I quantified by analyzing dung via the McMaster technique. The goal of the project is to determine parasite loads for individual animals and then see how other variables such as the animal’s sex, group or body condition relate to its parasite load. Because parasite loads have health implications for the animals, this research is important to those working on zebra conservation, as well as ranchers or pastoralists who want to raise healthy donkeys. As both an ecology and evolutionary biology student and an aspiring wildlife conservationist, I look forward to returning to Mpala next summer to continue learning and to begin senior-thesis research that will develop the skills I learned.
* This internship is connected to the PEI Development Grand Challenges project, “Water, Savannas and Society.”