May 10, 2014

Assessing grazer use of glades

Thursday May 8th, 2014IMG_6381

We spent the day out in a glade,

Where much good eating grass is made.

We sampled dung so we could see,

Where different grazers like to be.

Elephant, zebra, giraffe, and hare,

All left their droppings so we could stare,

And feel their scat with our bare hands,

Surprisingly, no bad smells reached our glands.

We couldn’t have done it without our teacher,

Identifying dung is his defining feature.

The lesson we learned today, this is it,

Ryan really knows his… poop.

Glades (open, grazed areas with few trees) were the focus of the day, as we attempted to answer the question of whether or not animals preferentially forage in glades. The best way to gather data for this was to count and touch piles of scat and assign them to the correct species. It’s worth mentioning just how mind-boggling it is to see a piece of elephant dung the size of your head!

During class in the afternoon, we discussed predation and the many ways in which predators can directly and indirectly affect other wildlife in an ecosystem. We left class wanting to see one of these predators (lions) more than ever. A football (soccer) game broke out in the afternoon, after much persistence from Isaac. We even got some of the river camp staff to join us, which made the game even more exciting. We spent the rest of the evening in a typical fashion, doing homework, chatting, and dodging (or in Henry’s case, eating) all sorts of gigantic, mildly terrifying bugs. Just another day in grand old Kenya!

Jacob Penner – GC Environmental Science/Ecology, 2017

»

«

Comments (1)

  1. From Kevin Stewart –

    Glad to read that my son Henry is keeping well-fed.

    In connection with the subject of Jacob’s May 10 blog post—grazer scat in glades—I understand that if you fry some up (not the scat), dung beetles (adults? grubs?) are “quite tasty”: http://edibug.wordpress.com/list-of-edible-insects/

    But for a completely different perspective on the lowly dung beetle, I also encourage readers to take a look at this neat article about their navigational prowess: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/01/24/dung-beetles-navigate-via-the-milky-way-an-animal-kingdom-first/

    And for a more general treatment, I recommend the interesting variety of topics at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dung_beetle
    The students, with their new-found skills in working with dung, would have a worthy mascot.

    Kevin Stewart

    rlsensenig May 20, 2014 |