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Humboldt State University

Publication Date

Fall 2014

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology

Abstract

Within the country of Tanzania lies a vast ecosystem known as the Serengeti. This unique landscape, primarily of grasslands and woodlands, shapes the seasonal feeding habits of the abundant wildlife that call the area home. While these feeding habits on a large spatial scale are well understood, such behavior within a specie’s specific environment remains of interest. With the theory of optimal foraging in mind, which considers how animals should look for and select food (Green, 1990), I studied the foraging habits of resident Burchell’s zebra (Equus burchelli) by observing if they move and forage among distinct resource patches within their environment of the greater Serengeti region. To do so, I conducted 84 hours of data collection in which I followed herds of zebra, of whom were selected through nonrandom opportunistic sampling. During such follows the herd’s GPS position was noted every five minutes and behavioral scans of the majority of the group were done simultaneously. The data was then mapped into five separate zones within the study area and was analyzed using a chi-squared goodness of fit test with a Poisson distribution. The test yielded significant results (p = < .01), supporting the noticeably uneven distribution of the herds’ foraging positions within each zone. These results, thus, support the idea of distinct resource patches within the Equus burchelli’s environment.

Disciplines

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Natural Resource Economics | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Other Forestry and Forest Sciences

 

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