We encourage research in a variety of disciplines. Due to its native biodiversity, its diverse habitat types, the dynamics of its recovering wildlife populations, and its complex human history, Gorongosa National Park offers unique opportunities for biological, ecological, hydrological, and social research.
While encouraging all fields of research, the following are of particular management and/or academic interest:
- The balance of large herbivores has changed from pre-war conditions with species such as waterbuck and warthog having a larger relative (and possibly absolute) contribution to overall biomass. Will other species be able to increase back to historical levels or will current numbers and ratio of waterbuck inhibit such change?
- Is the grazing succession being gradually re-established with the increase in buffalo numbers? Is this a patch phenomenon (grazing lawns) and at what scale is it happening? Can the spatial restoration of the grazing succession be modeled across the Park?
- How has the decline in herbivore numbers impacted primary productivity and ensuing wildfires? Are timing, extent, intensity and spatial pattern of wildfires different from those under higher herbivore numbers? Has this impacted negatively or positively on woody regeneration and growth?
- Elephant numbers were drastically reduced from the original 2,500 animals. Currently the elephant population appears to be recovering well with an estimated 300 to 400 elephants in the Park. Many other Parks where there is currently debate about the ‘elephant problem’, did not have monitoring systems in place to assess their true impact on biodiversity. What monitoring systems can be set up in Gorongosa to track vegetation and biodiversity changes as the elephant population increases?
- What are the impacts of hippo from a grazing, fertilizing and mechanical perspective (e.g. channels in the aquatic systems and paths on land)? How has this changed since the decline in hippo numbers? Should additional hippo be introduced?
- What was the ‘historical’ extent of rainforest on Mount Gorongosa? Can soil patterns, rain shadow and fire shadow extent and relict forest trees in conjunction with habitat information be used to model past forest cover?
- What is / could be the role of riparian corridors between Mount Gorongosa and Gorongosa Park? Should such corridors be reestablished, and in what manner, to mitigate the effects of climate change?
- Can fine-scale topographical information (LIDAR) be used to model floodplain dynamics at both a fine and intermediate scale to better understand desiccation of portions of the floodplain through accelerated erosion, tree invasion, etc.?
- How are changing land use patterns outside the Park, and the loss of grazing areas that were historically available to wildlife, impacting upon seasonal distribution patterns, resulting in forage bottlenecks and overall limiting wildlife numbers in the Park? What connections / dispersal areas should be restored and/or maintained.
- How are changing patterns of land use and increased water abstraction outside of the park affecting the flooding regime of the Gorongosa valley?
- The alien invasive plant, Mimosa pigra, has long been present in the Park, but seems to have been kept in check by the high number of herbivores. What is the impact of changed numbers and ratios of herbivore species on Mimosa pigra? Will recovering wildlife populations control Mimosa pigra or has the species become more widespread and too well established to be controlled even by high number of browsing animals?
- Understanding and modeling fodder flows (both in terms of quantity and nutritional quality for herbivores) in relation to rainfall, pulse-flooding, fire and herbivory.
For anyone interested in undertaking research in Gorongosa National Park, please send an e-mail to science (at) gorongosa.net. Please provide us with a short outline of who you are, what your objectives are, and what you would like to do in the park. We will talk to you about your project idea and assist you with developing a formal project proposal in order for you to secure a research permit.
Applicants should be mindful that research in Gorongosa that deals with animal and plant specimens and/or diseases might require special treatment (legally and ethically). Researchers should allow time for us to work with you on your proposal ideas and may be asked to schedule their research according to other work being conducted in the park. This could mean that a researcher is only allowed to conduct their research several months after they apply for a research permit. Please make special note of this if your research is time-sensitive or seasonal.