Associate Professor of Biological & Environmental Science, ES Program Director
BS, Eastern Mennonite University, 1992
CT, James Madison University, 1998
PHD, University of California Davis, 2007
VISIT MY PERSONAL WEB-PAGE
Fire-Grazing Interactions in Kenya
I continue to examine grazing-fire interactions in the Laikipia savannas of Kenya. In the spring of 2013 I burned a series of 18 small plots in collaboration with Truman Young from U.C. Davis and Duncan Kimuyu from University of Nairobi (funded in part by a National Geographic Grant). During the summer of 2013 I will also be teaching BIOL 375 Conservation Biology and Research Methods in Savannas, a class for Goshen College and Kenyan undergraduates to jointly explore the conservation opportunities in Kenyan savannas. We will be based at Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia, Kenya.
This work builds on previous research in Kenya. During the summer of 2011, four Goshen College students spent 6 weeks working with me on a continuation of the S.A.F.E. Project (Scale and Fire Ecology) begun in 2003. Students helped collect data to address how prescribed burning of grasslands affects habitat for wildlife such as zebra, elephant, gazelle and a host of other large herbivores.
Tallgrass Prairie Restoration
Since 2008, students helped initiate a project which examines the effect of white tail deer browsing on Tallgrass prairie forb dynamics in a restored prairie at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center. We are using multiple 20 m X 20 m eight ft tall deer exclosures to quantify which forbs deer preferentially select as forage. In 2010, we completed a pilot project to examine how domestic grazers (steers and goats) forage in native tallgrass prairie environments.
Lectures & Presentations
Sensenig, R.L., E.A. Laca, and M.W. Demment. 2011. Body size and fire-grazing interactions in an East African savanna. Ecological Society of America, Austin Texas.
Gerig, A., J. Good, and R.L. Senseing. 2009. The effects of deer herbivory on Tallgrass prairie forbs. Indiana Academy of Sciences annual meeting, Bloomington, IN.
Sensenig, R.L. 2008. Integrating allometric scaling, landscape ecology, and fire ecology to explain the coexistence of East African grazers, Indiana University South Bend.
Sensenig, R.L., E.A. Laca, and M.W. Demment. 2006. Spatial ecology of fire in an East African savanna: effects of burn size and patchiness on the foraging ecology of grazers of varying body size. Society for Conservation Biology International Convention, San Jose, CA (Student Award Finalist).
Kimuyu, D.K., R.L. Sensenig, C. Riginos, K.E. Veblen and T.P. Young. 2014. Wild and domestic browsers and grazers reduce fuels, fire temperatures, and acacia ant mortality in an African savanna. Ecological Applications, in press. See video of the burns here.
Riginos, R., L.M. Porensky, K.E. Veblen, W.O. Odadi, R.L. Sensenig, F. Keesing, D. Kimuyu, M.L. Wilkerson, and T.P. Young. 2012. Lessons on the relationship between pastoralism and biodiversity from the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE). Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 2012 2:10.
Sensenig, R.L., E.A. Laca, and M.W. Demment. 2010. Spatial ecology of fire in an East African savanna: effects of burn size and patchiness on the foraging ecology of grazers of varying body size. Ecology 91:2898–2907.
Gregory, N.C., R.L. Sensenig, and D.S. Wilcove, 2010. Effects of controlled fire and livestock grazing on bird communities in East African savannas. Conservation Biology 24(6):1606-1616.
Demment, M.W., M.M. Young, and R.L. Sensenig. 2003. Providing micronutrients through food-based solutions: A key to human and national development. Journal of Nutrition 133 (11): 3879S-3885S.
Honors & Awards
- Elkhart County Soil & Water Conservation District Educator of the Year
- Achievement Reward for College Scientists, Northern California Chapter ($7,500)
- Student Award Finalist, Society for Conservation Biology 20th Annual Meeting, San Jose, CA, Spatial ecology of fire in an East African savanna: effects of burn size and patchiness on the foraging ecology of grazers of varying body size.
- National Educator Award, Milken Family Foundation, (Chosen as one of 172 teachers from across the nation to receive a $25,000 teaching award by the Milken Family Foundation and the Virginia Department of Education)
- Earth Science Teacher of the Year, Virginia Association of Science Teachers
- Ray A. Kroc Teacher Achievement Award, Chosen by the 1999 Ray A. Kroc Student Scholar, Mr. Hanley Chiang, as the teacher most influential in his education.
- Teacher of the Year, Regional winner, Virginia National Teacher Training Institute
- Teacher of the Year, American Association of University Women regional teacher of the year, Virginia.
Grants & Fellowships
2013 Goshen College Mininger Grant, Fire-Grazing Ecology in Kenya. ($2000).
2012 National Geographic Society, “Ants, Elephants and Fire: a synergistic examination of savanna tree densities.” Co-PI with Truman Young ($26,950.00)
2012 Goshen College Mininger Grant, Grazing Ecology in Kenya. ($2000).
2011 Goshen College Mininger Grant, Grazing Ecology in Kenya. ($2000).
2010 Goshen College Mininger Grant, Multi-species grazing in tallgrass prairies. ($2000).
2008 Indiana Academy of Science Research Grant, The influence of white-tailed deer on establishment and long-term composition of plant communities in tallgrass prairie restorations, ($2950)
2006-07 Switzer Foundation Environmental Fellowship ($13,000) (Selected as one of six PhD students from California) http://www.switzernetwork.org/fellowships.taf
2006-07 UC Davis Chancellor’s Teaching Fellowship (Selected as one of five UCD graduate students to co-teach a university course with a faculty mentor.)
2006-07 Office of the President’s Dissertation Year Fellowship University of California, Davis (declined)
2004 National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant, Spatial Ecology of Fire in an East African Savanna: Effects of Burn Size and Patchiness on the Foraging Ecology of Herbivores of Varying Body Size ($13,000)
2003-06 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Spatial Ecology of Fire in an East African Savanna: Effects of Burn Size and Patchiness on the Foraging Ecology of Herbivores of Varying Body Size ($89,000 stipend 3 years, plus tuition)
2001-03 Research Assistantship Agronomy & Range Science Department, University of California, Davis ($36,000 plus tuition)
2002-04 UC Davis Grants: Jastro Shields research grants, (2002, 2003, & 2004 total: $7,500)
1999 Toshiba American Foundation Grant, Planting for the Future Greenhouse Project,