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The research paper that I chose was Rainfall and Soils Modify Plant Community Response to Grazing in Serengeti National Park by T. Michael Anderson, Mark E. Ritchie, and Samuel J. McNaughton: Ecology, 88(5), 2007, pp. 1191-1201. The main goal of the paper was to run an experiment to see what kind of effects excluding ungulate herbivores had on plant species richness and composition and also on the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the soils. To test this, they set up the experiment at eight different grassland sites in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Each of the sites had different amounts of rainfall and levels of soil nitrogen and phosphorous. Within each site, six 4 X 4 m plots were set up about 10 meters from each other. Three plots from each site were randomly selected and were enclosed with a 2 m tall chain link fence. The other three plots were left unfenced. Soil nutrients and plant biomass were measured seven times during the growing season during a two year span for all of the plots within the eight different grassland sites. There were three hypothesizes for this experiment. First, that the removal of the herbivores would have separate effects on plant species richness and composition and that the effects of these would depend on the amount of available resources for each plot. Second, that the effect of excluding the ungulate herbivores would change from positive to negative with more available resources. Third, that the herbivore would affect the amount of nutrients available, which can be associated with the changes in plant species richness and composition. It was found that excluding herbivores decreased plant species richness at all of the eight different grassland sites, and it also decreased the number of plant species by an average of 5.4 species for all plots. They also found that the plots that were not grazed with a medium amount of rainfall had a greater decrease in plant species richness compared to the sites with the highest and lowest amount of rain. Excluding herbivores caused the strongest relative decrease in plant species richness in areas with lower rainfall and where the lack of herbivores caused an increase of phosphorous in the soil. They stated that herbivore effects on phosphorous in the soil may be an important, and previously overlooked, way that herbivores help influence plant diversity in tropical grasslands. In terms of methods and materials for the conducted experiment, I felt that the authors did a good job of planning and executing the experiment. Most variables were tracked and accounted for, and they even made sure that no animals entered the fenced areas by checking for feces, which is something that I found very clever. If given the task to replicate the experiment, there are not many, if any at all, things that I would change from the original. Overall, I felt that the paper studied an interesting topic and was well written. Upon reading the Abstract of the paper, I was quickly interested in finishing the article to find out what the results were. I think that the information gathered from the experiments mentioned in the paper could be very useful now and in the future. Since the endangerment level of animals is becoming increasingly higher and higher, the data from this experiment may be needed in the future if there is ever a sudden decrease in the amount of herbivores in the Serengeti. Maybe this study was a hint for what would happen to the grasslands if poaching and the likes continue to run rampant in areas like the Serengeti. One of the things that I disliked about the paper was the amount of data that was presented in non-laymans terms. I felt that if I wanted to fully and complete understand the entirety of the data presented in the results, I would have had to look up and familiarize myself with many methods of calculations that were strange to me. However, this is one of the first

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times that I have read and analyzed a scientific study from a written paper, so my confusion may be from the lack of experience I have in this particular area.