Title

Woody Plant and Grass Species Associations in the Ngoronogoro Crater, Tanzania

Presenter

Kelly Kopczynski

Abstract

The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania has recently experienced severe overgrazing by wild and domesticated herbivores, and colonization by non-native plants. The main aim of my study was to identify the introduced woody plants and determine which native grass species they are associated with. A secondary aim was to find links between these plant associations and changes in populations of grazing mammals. Using transects within the crater, I measured the size of each woody plant patch and the distance from its center to the nearest grass species. I found that the most dominant grass species, Cynodon dactylon, often grew within patches of woody plants, while other grass species, such as Pennisetum sphacelatum, grew almost exclusively on the edge of patches. This suggests that certain grass species grow better when they are in close proximity to introduced woody species, which might also be disrupting the grazing habits of some native mammals.

Faculty Sponsor

Heidi Dobson

Sponsor Department/Programs

Biology

Tracks

Poster Session

Terms of Use

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Location

Cordiner Hall

Presentation Type

Poster

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Apr 19th, 1:00 PM Apr 19th, 2:00 PM

Woody Plant and Grass Species Associations in the Ngoronogoro Crater, Tanzania

Cordiner Hall

The Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania has recently experienced severe overgrazing by wild and domesticated herbivores, and colonization by non-native plants. The main aim of my study was to identify the introduced woody plants and determine which native grass species they are associated with. A secondary aim was to find links between these plant associations and changes in populations of grazing mammals. Using transects within the crater, I measured the size of each woody plant patch and the distance from its center to the nearest grass species. I found that the most dominant grass species, Cynodon dactylon, often grew within patches of woody plants, while other grass species, such as Pennisetum sphacelatum, grew almost exclusively on the edge of patches. This suggests that certain grass species grow better when they are in close proximity to introduced woody species, which might also be disrupting the grazing habits of some native mammals.

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