Mckenna Brownell ’20, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Certificate(s): Spanish Language and Culture

I conducted research to determine how the presence of dung affects the foraging behavior of Grévy’s and plains zebra. In ideal conditions, zebra will graze on the most nutrient-dense grass. The presence of dung helps to fertilize surrounding grass. Dung, however, contains parasites to which zebra are susceptible, specifically Strongyle nematodes. My team and I observed zebra grazing behavior by setting up artificial “plots” that controlled for the amount and location of dung. Camera traps recorded zebras grazing and from those data we were able to determine whether the animals take dung as a cue to graze elsewhere. A typical day in the field consisted of maintaining the plots, collecting fresh dung, and observing zebra as they grazed. This exciting internship opened doors for me in terms of pursuing research as a career, and it helped me apply the science I have learned in the classroom.