Emma samples the South African savanna!

Elephants blending quickly into the mopane woodland

Elephants blending quickly into the mopane woodland

Emma using the licor

Emma using the licor to measure Amax

Emma recently returned home to South Africa to complete a field trip in the Phalaborwa region of the Kruger National Park. She collected leaf and wood trait data which will be analysed in conjunction with growth data collected by Tony Swemmer of the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON). Emma is interested in growth-trait relations, and the data will contribute to the second chapter of her PhD.

Great help in the field: Mightman and Elijah

Great help in the field: Mightman and Elijah

Constance sampling biomass in the field

Constance sampling biomass in the field

Emma was helped by some fantastic SAEON field assistants, who provided vital tree identification skills and willing smiles.

A rare sighting of wild dog play fighting in the road

A rare sighting of wild dog play fighting in the road

Female and male lion lounging in the shade

Female and male lion lounging in the shad

Besides the usual challenges of collecting leaf physiology data in the field, the Kruger Park offers the unique chance of bumping into an elephant, a rhino, or even lion, all while trying to measure maximum photosynthetic rate using the fairly unwieldy LI-6400. Thankfully nothing dangerous bothered them while working, but they did see some interesting animals driving to and from the sites.

A young male leopard keeping watch from the shade

A young male leopard keeping watch from the shade

A giraffe strolling through the savanna, well adapted to get the tasty leaves at the top of the trees

A giraffe strolling through the savanna, well adapted to reach the tasty leaves at the top of the trees

The vegetation in the study sites ranged from dense mopane woodland to open acacia savanna. Due to a drought this rainy season the grassy layer has taken a beating, but thankfully trees were still photosynthesising.

A typical flat topped acacia savanna scene, except featuring Albizia harveyi and Dichrostachys cinerea

A typical flat topped acacia savanna scene, except featuring Albizia harveyi and Dichrostachys cinerea

All in all it was a successful trip and should provide some very interesting data from an arid savanna.

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