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Monday, April 9 • 4:15pm - 4:30pm
SYMPOSIA-06: Sharing the Savanna: Patterns of Hardwood Resource Utilization by Humans and Elephants in Northern Botswana

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AUTHORS: Erin Buchholtz*, Texas A&M University, Ecoexist Project; Lauren Redmore, Texas A&M University, Ecoexist Project; Susanne Vogel, University of Oxford, Ecoexist Project; Lee Fitzgerald, Texas A&M University; Amanda Stronza, Ecoexist Project, Texas A&M University; Anna Songhurst, Ecoexist Project, University of Oxford, Texas A&M University; Graham McCulloch, Ecoexist Project, University of Oxford, Texas A&M University

ABSTRACT: When humans and wildlife both rely on the same natural resources, it becomes important to understand their interactions ecologically as well as for issues of conservation, conflict, and coexistence. Our research focuses on hardwood trees in the Eastern Okavango Panhandle of Botswana as a way to study the demands for natural resources in a social-ecological system. Hardwoods are a staple of elephant diet and are heavily relied on for firewood by people in the region, however, spatial and temporal proximity to each other can be risky for both species. Our research will calculate an index of selection for elephants, based on proportional frequency of browsing and availability of hardwood species encountered. Data on human hardwood collection will be analyzed for use preference and availability as well, and this selection index compared with that of the elephants. Our anticipated results will be that there will be overlap in hardwood species selection among humans and elephants and that variation in preference will be related to nutritional content (for elephants) and burning characteristics (for humans). We will also analyze spatial overlap of human firewood collection pathways and elephant movement based on participatory mapping and elephant GPS collar data. Although risky, we anticipate high spatial overlap between the two because elephant browsing damages trees and creates dry wood that is harvested by humans. These analyses of hardwood use may reveal important risk-reward dynamic interactions that have not been evident in previous human-elephant conflict work focused on agricultural crop-raiding. Overall, this will result in a better understanding of the linked social-ecological system revolving around resource use where humans and elephants share the landscape.

Monday April 9, 2018 4:15pm - 4:30pm CDT
Grant Park Parlor

Attendees (8)