Introduction To Ecology

Tanner Allen


Why I chose Zebra:

The zebra is a very unique breed of animal. That is one of the main reasons I chose to research this animal. When picking this animal I knew that I would likey enjoy finding facts and expanding my knowledge of this specific breed. As you know, the zebra has some unique features about them. Unlike a horse they have stripied fur. That is another reason why I chose this animal; it stood out to me. So far I have already found things out about the zebra I never knew.An example of that is how I found out that underneath the zebra's striped fur, their skin is acutally black. It is interesting to find new facts about an animal that you thought you knew pretty well already. Through this unit I hope to become a master at understanding, recognizing,and explaining my knowledge about this animal in a way where the audience understands and wants to learn themselves.

Zebra Food Web:


This is Tanner reporting live from South African grasslands! Today I will be observing the zebras climate and environment. It is very warm here today, most like all other days. You see, the grasslands are fairly warm all year long. That is because the equator runs directly through the continent on Africa, which means it runs close to South Africa. It can get down to freezing temperatues in the winter months at night.

Besides zebras, you may expect to see other animals such as giraffes, elephants, anitlope, lions, hyenas, and many more. As for reptiles you may expect to see crocodiles, african python, and the cape cobra.

As for terrian and climate, you see a lot of rolling hills and valleys with very high and low altitudes. Grassland is pretty much what it sounds like. Medium to longer grass is common here. Also small shrubs and trees. As for weather you tend to see long, hot, warm and wet summers, and short cold, dry, frosty winters. Rain is typical here in the warm months, you can probably excpect to see an annual rain fall total of 646mm, which is a lot compared to the world total of 860mm.

This is showing where th main areas of grasslands are in Africa
This map is showing the actual reagion on South Africa.

Observation Journal:

Day 1: Animal Adaptions

As you can see, it's not hard to miss seeing a zebra in the wild. Lets's start out with the stripes. Zebra's tend to stay in packs with other zebras. They use their eye-catching stripes to blend into eachother creating a barrier between a specific zebra. Like many animals in the horse family, they have big ears. The mostly use their ears let the heat out of their bodies. They also have great sense of hearing, so most times they can hear what is going on around the grasslands at a far distance. Aside from the black stripes, they have white fur. White is a shade that reflects the hot rays of the sun; regulating the body temperature. Another way they can keep cool is with their skin. The zebra's skin is thin and light; keeping the zebra well protected from harmful rays. In this picture, you can see the zebra has fairly long legs. They use those legs to sprint away from preditors. The zebra can reach speeds of 40 miles per hour. You can see now how the zebra is well suited for its surrounding environment.

Day 2- Basic needs:

The zebra wakes up on its grassy bed on a warm summer day; hungry and waiting. Water can be an issue in the zebras environment, but the zebra get thirsty a lot. So it craves water regularly. The zebra drinks water from a watering hole where other animals cool off and have a drink. If the zebra can't find much water, they will dig to find water. The zebra sees a fresh patch of grass and doesn't hesitate to have a meal. The ebras diet mostly contains of grasses and small shrubs and leaves. The zebras digestive systems allow them to feed on grass, but still get all the nutrients they need to survive. Zebras are grazers, which mean that they will pretty much eat all day long. They will comsume about 20 or more pounds on grass a day. They will also drink about 10 gallons of water a day. Since zebras tend to sleep 8-10 hours a day. You might see some napping during the day. But you often only see them eating, drinking, and roaming.

Day 3- Animal Behavior:

Zebras do range in many behaviors. Today I have obsevered a few of those behaviors. Just today I say a baby foal being born. When a foal is born, the mother zebra keeps every other zebras away from it for 2 to 3 days! She event keeps it away from family members! I'm guessing she may do this to have a special connection to her young before it ventures off and becomes more independant. To go along with this behavior is how if the foal is a male, he will leave with his father and a group of bachelor zebras until he can start his own family. They will end up leaving for 1-4 years.
I'm mostly studying one group of zebras, and that would be the Plains Zebra. But there are more than one type, and one of those types of zebra called the Grevy's Zebra. Grevy's zebras are two times as big as the Plains Zebra. The Grevy's zebra is much more territorial than the Plains Zebra. The males will be very agressive to incoming animals. They like to stick thier family unit together and stay in a pack.
It can get hot in the summer in Africa! So...How to the zebra clean and cool off? Mud would be the answer. Water can be scarce in some parts on Africa, so when the zebras get the chance, they go for it! The zebra will roll around in the watering hole to cool off. The mud also can prevent bugs from flying and bothering the zebra. They also use the watering hold to clean themselfs. Also another way the clean them selves is by rolling in dust and sand. I'm guessing it gets off the extra hair they shed and keepd their coat nice and thin.

Day 4- Symbiotic Relationships:

Today I saw a relationship between a zebra and a bird. But not any bird. It was the oxpecker! I saw the zebra grazing freely in the grassland when all other the sudden a bird flew up and landed right on the zebra's neck! As I saw this, I grew to realize that the zebra didn't even mind it was there! I was going to call this commentialistic relationship but then I saw what was happening. I saw that the oxpecker was actually picking at flies and bugs that were on the zebra! So I thought for a second and I came to the conlusion that this was a mutualistic relationship because the Oxpecker was getting a meal, and the zebra was getting cleaned from the bugs it had on it!

Wildlife Monitoring Technique-

There are many ways to track animals in the wild. Tracking collars, tags, and GPS chips are just 3 out of the many ways you can keep track of an animal. What researchers are trying to find out about the animals is how they act in their environment. They can also keep track of population and find the preditors affectnig a population of animals.

Here is an example of what a tracking collar may look like in the wild. This is a lemur.

How do they work?
A traking collar works by two radio towers. The towers work together to find the exact point of the animal. One tower sends out its signal to find the animal. Then the 2nd tower send out its signal as well. When both signals cross together, that is where the animal is. Its pretty simple. The tower also send back beeps. The beeps tell the researchers what action the animal is doing. Faster beeps may mean that the animal is awake and active. Meduim beeps mean the animal is sitting and resting. Slow beeps could mean the animal is dead.
Another way this works is a hand held tower device. Researchers can use these to actually see the animal in action. The researchers will venture off into the wild with the device. The closer they are the stronger the beeps will be. ( NOT QUITE COMPLETED, ONE THING TO ADD)

Fellow Researcher Profile-

James Bradley:
As I was looking for researcher that studies zebras, I stumbled upon James Bradley. James Bradley is apart of the team "Makgadikgadi Zebra Migration Research Project". James has studied at the Univercity of Bristol in England to get his zoology degree. Bradley is the leader of the Makgadikgadi Zebra Migration Research project which was started about 10 years ago. The main question they were trying to answer was: "Would an eight-foot-high electrified fence stretching 150 miles across the zebra's territory disrupt their migration?". I know what you are thinking. What kind of question is that?! The main goal for the project is to understand the effect of fencing policies on wildlife. They are trying to see how the zebra are reacting to the many fences and roads that interupt Africa's ecosystem.

My point of view-
I think what that team is doing is an excellent way to show that humanity can effect how a population of animals. In this case it is effecting the zebra population. Not in numbers you may say, but more in the terms of living and migrating space.

To compare this to what I am doing is a lot of a differences and a lot of similarities. One way I similar to this group is by observing how animals react to their environment. Looking an the behavior shown and actions shown when something may be added or taken away from the environment. A difference is that i am not focusing my attention on the humanity side of interaction between species. I am really looking at the zebra's themselves. Taking a look at what they do. Not what humans to to affect them.

Using the Research-Limiting factors-

The zebra population is at a stead level in the present day. But there still are a lot of things that affect its population. This short video will tell you some of the main things that affect the zebra.
Limiting factor for plains zebra <-------- link for short video describing how the plains zebra is affected.

The Grevy's Zebra population is endangered. This video explains how we are helping.
Saving grevy zebra <----------------------Link for short video describing how the grevy's zebra is being helped

( I made both of the videos myself)


"AWF Wildlife Solutions." AWF: Conserving Wildlife: Grevy's Zebras. African Wildlife Foundation. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.
"Error 404." 404. Makgadikgadi Zebra Migration Research, 2009. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.
Keene-Young, Robyn. "Nothing Can Stop the Zebra." Smithsonian Magazine. 15 Mar. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.
"Zebra." Animal Planet. Animal, 2012. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.
"Animals." Zebra Facts For Kids: Zebra Pictures, Zebras Facts. San Diego Zoo, 2012. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.
"Zebra - Animal Facts." Switch Zoo. Switcheroo Zoo, 2010. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.
National Geographic. "Zebra." National Geographic. Nat Geo Wild, 2012. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.

(Credits to for the videos)