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Ishimwe, Celine [1], van der Hoek, Yntze [2], Kaplin, Beth [1], DeVore, Melanie [3].

Relative Consumption of C3 and C4 Grasses and Sedges by Buffalo in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.

Volcanoes National Park (VNP), Rwanda, is known for its populations of mountain gorillas. However, there are other large herbivores present, including African buffalo (Syncerus caffer). Buffalo are predominantly grazers, and their diet consists largely of Poaceae and Cyperaceae, which in the largely forested VNP is mainly found in small clearings such as wetlands. We wanted to determine the consumption of grasses and sedges and that of C3 and C4 by buffalo and to know the effect of seasonality on buffalo diets in wetland of VNP as C3 and C4 plants respond to seasonality. We collected fecal samples from multiple wetlands in VNP during both the dry season and the start of the rainy season to examine the availability and intake of plants by buffalo in VNP. The scope of this study was to: 1) Collect data on the relative consumption of C3 and C4 species by buffalo in VNP; 2) Obtain standard vegetation parameters (relative abundance, density, and frequency) for plant families available to buffalo in VNP’s wetlands; and 3) Assess how wetland plant composition changed with elevation (2546m to 3413m). We found that Cyperaceae were most abundant in VNP and made up the majority of the buffalo diet, regardless of season, and that C3 plants were consumed at disproportionally high amounts. Wetlands in VNP provide ample food resources for buffalo. Yet, future studies will need to address whether these resources are sufficient to sustain future populations of buffalo and to continue studies of the hydrology and wetland ecology of marshes needed to sustain healthy wetlands and to carefully be aware of agricultural practices which may impact wetlands. We also believe that buffalo will not be as strongly impacted by upward shifting of altitudinal zones (distribution of C3 and C4 plants) in response to increasingly warmer mean annual temperatures

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1 - University of Rwanda, Center of Excellence in Biodiversity & Natl Res Managements (CoEB), Huye, Rwanda
2 - The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Musanze, Rwanda
3 - Georgia College & State University, Biological And Environmental Sciences, Campus Box 081, Milledgeville, GA, 31061, United States

fecal sample
Volcanoes National Park
C3 Plant
C4 Plant

Presentation Type: Poster
Session: P1, Ecology Posters
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Monday, July 19th, 2021
Time: 5:00 PM(EDT)
Number: P1EC022
Abstract ID:500
Candidate for Awards:None

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