Links between 3D vegetation structure, biodiversity and land-use in Maasai Mara

Our research in the area aims to understand the roles of large mammals, including wild herbivores, livestock and humans, in shaping savanna structure and processes. We are particularly interested in how animals and humans affect vegetation structure, which is strongly related to biodiversity and important ecosystem processes such as fire spread and carbon dynamics. Vegetation structure also determines the availability and quality of pasture, an important ecosystem service in the Maasai Mara.

We combine high-tech field-based data collection using terrestrial laser scanning with low-tech approaches such as vegetation surveys and allometric measurements. By coupling the field data with modern satellite imagery, we aim to map vegetation structure at the landscape scale.

Landscape-level information on vegetation structure and dynamics is essential to understand the feedbacks between vegetation structure, disturbance (fire and megafauna) and external drivers (climate and atmospheric CO2). In turn, this understanding is essential in planning a biodiverse future with compatible human livelihood development in the Maasai Mara.



Robert Buitenwerf

Jens-Christian Svenning

Anne Blach Overgaard

Michael Munk