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Serengeti Fire Research Project

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Uncovering the variable roles of fire in savannah ecosystems

The dynamics of savannah ecosystems are the result of complicated interactions between herbivory, nutrient availability, rainfall and fire.  Individual processes and specific study areas are now well known and ripe for global synthesis.  In this project a new, large-scale experiment using fire in the Serengeti ecosystem will provide the forum for a network of internationally renowned biologists to combine knowledge of the savannah ecosystem at different sites in Africa.  The Project will generate a new understanding of the processes that shape African savannahs, understanding that will have both fundamental science benefits and practical implications for savannah management.

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Workshop 1:

Workshop 1:  Mwiba and Maswa, November 2014 

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The Network members and other invited participants gathered for the first workshop in the Mwiba / Maswa region of the Serengeti.  This initial meeting gave members of the Network time to familiarise themselves with the area and allowed them to present and discuss each individuals area of research and the contribution they could make to the project.  It aided the Network in identifying gaps and questions that could be redressed by the project.

Although several members of the Network had not been able to attend this initial workshop, the objectives set were achieved.  Individual talks covered a wide range of issues from global patterns in Savannah ecology to the specifics of how animals use burnt patches on a fine scale.  A particular recurrent theme of the discussions was the mechanisms that lead fire and herbivory to generate highly productive grazing "lawns", an idea we expect to pursue in further field trips. 

This initial workshop was aided by Serengeti Select Safaris.


Leverhulme – Network members

  • Colin Beale – University of York
  • Kate Parr – University of Liverpool
  • Colin Courtney-Mustaphi – University of York
  • Jason Donaldson - University of Stellenbosch.
  • Gareth Hempson - Universityof the Witwatersrand
  • Tom Morrison - Wake Forest University
  • James Probert – University of Liverpool / University of York

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Workshop 2:

Workshop 2:  Grumeti, July 2015

The second meeting took place in July 2015. As before we split our time three ways:

1. With network participants who had not made the first workshop presenting their research interests

2. With field visits and fieldwork

3. With analyses and writing time

 Field trips

We undertook a number of full day field trips to different corners of Serengeti, visiting field sites for the various network members. One full day toured the western corridor, taking in fire and herbivory exclosure experiments installed by James Probert following the discussions from the first workshop, a second day took us to the short grass plains and the larger long­term herbivore exclosures in this area and a final full day took us to the north­central plains and woodlands to see the Wake Forest exclosures and seedling experiments. Other shorter trips enabled various members to gather data on a range of taxa, from Acacia drepanolobium structure and ant diversity to leaf area indices, charcoal samples and bird diversity.

Workshop 3:

Workshop 3: November 23 - December 4 2015

Workshop 4:

Workshop 4: TBA

Workshop 5:

Workshop 5: TBA

TAWIRI Conference

TAWIRI Conference December 2015


The Conference will be held from 2nd -4th December 2015 at Naura Spring Hotel -Arusha.


The future of Wildlife Conservation in the face of Increasing Anthropogenic Demands

Sub themes:

1. Human-wildlife interaction.

2. Wildlife Diseases/ecosystem and population health

3. Ethno-botany and vegetation ecology.

4. Wildlife ecology and Ecological interactions.

5. Water Resources and wetland Conservation.

6. Climate Change and Ecosystem dynamics (Impacts, Mitigation and


7. Beekeeping, bee ecology, bee products and pollination services

8. Natural Resources Governance and Infrastructure Development

Call for Abstracts

Call for abstract submission was closed on 30th June 2015

Full paper submission

 Details for the manuscript contents and submission are well illustrated at TAWIRI website; deadline for submission of full papers will be on 30th September 2015.