Savannas cover at least 40 percent of the global tropics and support a fifth of the world’s population, thus efforts to better understand biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in these systems are essential for climate change mitigation and effective policy formulation. Using our Airborne Observatory’s light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology, the diverse scope of our research in South Africa has ranged from revealing the mathematical patterns underlying tree distribution to unraveling complex relationships between vegetation and megafauna such as elephants and lions. This research enables the development of predictive models to forecast how savannas will respond to global change, helps to inform protection strategies for threatened species, and leads to smarter conservation and management of these ecosystems.
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The National Science Foundation
Texas A & M University
University of Witwatersrand
South African National Parks Service