Ecosystem Dynamics

The ecosystem dynamics program encompasses the full range of disciplines in ecology including vegetation and wetland ecology, fisheries science, rangeland science, herbivore ecology, landscape ecology and carnivore ecology. We collaborate with researchers in other programs at ORI, such as social scientists, hydrologists, geochemists, and development specialists, to better understand how wetland-dryland ecosystems and their associated local communities of people function, with an objective of informing policy and sustainable conservation and management. The program also aims to develop capacity in Botswana by training postgraduate students in various fields of ecology through MPhil and PhD degrees.

Current Projects

  1. Rangeland research in Ghanzi region (Richard Fynn)
  2. Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods (ProSuLi) in the eastern Okavango Panhandle (Richard Fynn and Moseki Motsholapheko)
  3. Habu community livestock herding project (Richard Fynn)
  4. Modelling scenarios of development impacts on Okavango wetland ecosystems (Murray-Hudson)
  5. Investigating potential impacts of nutrient enrichment on Okavango wetland ecosystems (Murray-Hudson)
  6. Ecophysiology of blue wildebeest and plains zebra in arid landscapes (Bennitt)
  7. Factors contributing to population declines in Kalahari springbok (Bennitt)
  8. Effects of seasonality in wild prey availability on human-wildlife conflict (Bennitt)
  9. Current and potential distribution of alien invasive plant species in Ngamiland and Chobe districts (Kashe).
  10. Weed species composition and diversity in flood recession (molapo) farming (Kashe)
  11. Enhacement of diversity, population structure and regeneration of woody species through area exclosure (Kashe).
Name Position Department
Dr. Emily Bennitt Senior Research Fellow Okavango Research Institute
Dr. Richard Warwick Sinclair Fynn Associate Professor Okavango Research Institute
Dr. Keotshephile Kashe Research Fellow Okavango Research Institute
Dr. Nonofo Constance Losike-Sedimo Senior Lecturer Educational Foundations
Dr. Gaseitsiwe Smollie Masunga Research Scholar Okavango Research Institute
Dr. Mike Murray-Hudson Senior Research Fellow Okavango Research Institute

Selected Publications

  1. Wolski, P., M. Murray-Hudson, K. Thito, and L. Cassidy. 2017. Keeping it simple: Monitoring flood extent in large data-poor wetlands using MODIS SWIR data. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 57:224-234
  2. Tsheboeng, G., M. Murray-Hudson, and K. Kashe. 2017. Regeneration status of riparian tree species in two sites that differ in land-use in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Journal of Forestry Research 28:1073-1082
  3. Schoelynck, J., J. Schaller, M. Murray-Hudson, P. J. Frings, D. J. Conley, D. van Pelt, K. Mosimane, M. Gondwe, P. Wolski, P. Meire, and E. Struyf. 2017. The trapping of organic matter within plant patches in the channels of the Okavango Delta: a matter of quality. Aquatic Sciences 79:661-674.
  4. Fynn, R.W.S., Kirkman, K & Dames, R.  (2017). Optimal Grazing Management Strategies: Evaluating Key Concepts. African Journal of Range and Forage Science 34: 87-98.
  5. Sianga, K., van Telgen, M., Vrooman, J., Fynn, R.W.S. & van Langevelde, F., (2017). Spatial Refuges Buffer Landscape Against Homogenization and Degradation by Large Herbivore Population and Facilitate Vegetation Heterogeneity. Koedoe. 59(2),  a1434. https://doi. org/10.4102/koedoe. v59i2.1434
  6. Selebatso, M., Bennitt, E., Maude, G., & Fynn, R. W.S. (2017). Water provision alters wildebeest adaptive habitat selection and resilience in the Central Kalahari. African Journal of Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/aje.12439
  7. Burkepile, D.E., Fynn, R.W.S., Thompson, D.I., Lemoine, N.P., Koerner, S.E., et al. (2017). Herbivore Size Matters for Productivity—Richness Relationships in African Savannas. Journal of Ecology 105: 674-686.
  8. Fynn, R.W.S., Augustine, D.J., Peel, M.J.S. & de Garine-Wichatitsky, M. (2016). Strategic Management of Livestock to Improve Biodiversity Conservation in African Savannas: A Conceptual Basis for Wildlife-livestock Co-existence. Journal of Applied Ecology. 53:388-397.
  9. Wilson, A.M., Hubel, T.Y., Wilshin, S.D., Lowe, J.C., Lorenc, M., Dewhirst, O.P., Bartlam-Brooks, H.L.A., Diack, R., Bennitt, E., Golabek, K.A., Woledge, R.C., McNutt, J.W., Curtin, N.A. & West, T.G. 2018. Biomechanics of predator–prey arms race in lion, zebra, cheetah and impala. Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature25479
  10. Bennitt, E., Bonyongo, M.C., and Harris, S. 2017. Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer) social dynamics in a flood-pulsed environment. Behavioral Ecology, doi: 10.1093/beheco/arx138.
  11. Bennitt, E., Bonyongo, M.C. and Harris, S. 2016. Effects of divergent migratory strategies on access to resources for Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer). Journal of Mammalogy 97 (6), 1682-1698. doi: 10.1093/jmammal/gyw134
  12. Christensen, C., Kern, J., Bennitt, E. and Radford, A. 2016. Rival group scents induce changes in dwarf mongoose immediate behaviour and subsequent movement. Behavioral Ecology. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arw092
  13. Zeale, M. R. K., E. Bennitt, S.E. Newson, C. Packman, W.J. Browne, S. Harris, G. Jones, E. Stone. 2016. Mitigating the impact of bats in historic churches: the response of Natterer’s bats Myotis nattereri to artificial roosts and deterrence. PLoS One 11(1): e0146782

In pursuit of academic excellence