Fourteen Goshen College biology students spent three weeks studying wildlife ecology, fire ecology and conservation biology in the Laikipia Plateau of Kenya. The course, taught by Ryan Sensenig, included daily research excursions to examine the various field methods used in savanna ecology, including a prescribed burn. In the latter third of the course students visited landowners across the region to explore the challenges and opportunities in managing the land for both wildlife and human use (including livestock).
Four students (Jacob Penner, Peter Meyer Reimer, Jessica Davila & Cortney Quick) remained after the course for 3 weeks of research to further explore the interactions between fire, elephants, and acacia-ant mutualists. Ants reside in the acacia tree and help defend the tree from foraging by elephants. We are exploring how the ants respond after prescribed fires and measuring whether this influences elephant foraging on trees in the burned sites. Check out the course blog here.