Maria Stahl ’20
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Dynamics of the Restoration of an African Savanna
I assisted a graduate student with his research regarding the effects of large mammalian herbivores on the vegetation of Gorongosa National Park. This area was recently the site of a destructive civil war, which has had dramatic lasting impacts on the species composition of the park. The Pringle Lab is studying interspecific relationships and how these interactions between species might help restore Gorongosa to its pre-war levels of biodiversity. The research we conducted included collecting ungulate fecal samples for dietary analysis, surveying and maintaining plots simulating herbivore activity on the floodplain, sorting through camera-trap photos, and recording which species most frequently graze the land. Through this internship, I not only learned about ecology in an exciting and unique setting, but I also gained insight into what it means to be a field biologist, including how to set up, carry out and learn from experiments. The experience I had in Mozambique helped me develop the necessary skills to continue studying ecology and evolutionary biology, and it taught me how to incorporate conservation into other aspects of my studies.
* This internship is connected to the PEI Development Grand Challenges project, “Ecosystem Spatial Pattern and Development Opportunities in African Rangelands.”
Biodiversity and Conservation
Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
Robert Pringle, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology