Parasite-mediated competition between BurcheU's zebras and an endangered population of Grevy's zebras in two different regions of Kenya
Stockdale, Lauren A.
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Three different species of zebra are found on the continent of Africa. Of these three species, two are found in Kenya and only one is endangered. This endangered species is called Grevy's zebra. There are many reasons for which this species is endangered but one factor that has not been widely considered is parasite-mediated competition between these zebras and the non-endangered BurcheIrs zebras, which inhabit some of the same areas. Parasite-mediated competition between the two species of zebra was the issue studied in this experiment. The research for this study was conducted in central Kenya at two different locations known as Lewa and Wamba. Herds of zebras in both areas were observed and fecal samples from ninety individual zebras were collected for laboratory analysis. Parasite loads were determined by counting and identifying parasite eggs found in the fecal samples and calculating the total number of eggs per gram. Thirty of these samples were taken from Grevy's zebras in Wamba, thirty were from Grevy's zebras in Lewa, and thirty were from Burchelfs zebras in Lewa. No samples were collected from Burchelfs zebras in Wamba because there are so few of them although they are abundant in Lewa. We determined that the Burchelfs zebras are negatively impacting the Grevy's zebra population in Lewa through the spread of parasite-mediated disease and thus parasite-mediated competition is a possible factor in the decline of Grevy's zebra numbers.