One of the big questions in ecology is how do similar animals coexist in the same place. Dr. Robert Pringle and his team are using new technologies to better understand the ways in which three different species of African antelope partition niches within their habitat. The research team places collars on the animals to track their movements via GPS technology, allowing them to see that each species specializes in a slightly different part of the savanna habitat. The team also collects dung from the animals. They then use a technique called metabarcoding in which plant DNA isolated from the dung samples is used to construct a diet profile of exactly which plant species each animal eats. Together, the spatial data and the diet profiles are giving scientists a better understanding of how animals coexist by avoiding direct competition.
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