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Title: West Side Story: Cattle grazing intensity’s effects on the survival and distribution of parasites in plains zebras (Equus burchelli)
Authors: Healy, Christina A.
Advisors: Rubenstein, Daniel I.
Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: Previous research demonstrates that cattle can facilitate and compete with wildlife that shares the same habitat, depending on seasonal conditions. The purpose of this paper is to determine if cattle grazing intensity has an effect on the grazing behavior and parasite loads of plains zebra (Equus burcelli) that cohabit with cattle herds. In order to do so, we used Hotspotter, a species pattern recognition program developed by Crall et al. in 2013 to identify individual zebras to compare populations that are differently affected by cattle grazing. We found that plains zebras that live with cattle have lower levels of parasites than those that do not live with cattle. We attribute this difference in parasites to the modification of vegetation by cattle. When the cattle graze they alter the composition, density and height of the grass and this has consequences for strongyle worm survival in the environment, which is dependent on conditions such as moisture and temperature. Cattle did not affect grazing behavior. Finally, we found that male zebras benefitted from cattle grazing more than females did. Males that cohabited with cattle had lower parasites than those that did not, while we found no difference for females. We collected this data at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya. The conservancy is both a wildlifeprotected area, as well as a site of livestock production.
Extent: 40 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 1992-2016

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