Madeleine Dietrich ’20


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project Title

Plant Traits and Animal Diet on the African Savanna

Certificate(s): Environmental Studies

I worked as part of a research team looking at the relationship between animal diets and plant traits in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique. Gorongosa is a fascinating place to work due to the range of biodiversity and the park’s complicated history. Many of the park’s species — including large herbivores such as elephants and antelopes — were almost wiped out during Mozambique’s long civil war (1977- 1992). Thanks to the Gorongosa Restoration Project, wildlife is returning to the park, creating a dynamic and unique research opportunity. Our research this summer explored why herbivores eat what they eat. We collected, analyzed and processed hundreds of different plant samples every day, looking at a wide range of physical and chemical properties that might help explain why a plant was or was not part of an animal’s diet. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it was an incredible experience to play a role in answering this complicated question.

Internship Year


Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation


Pringle Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University- Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique


Robert Pringle, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Arjun Potter, Ph.D. candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology