Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Alejandro Fierro

Second Advisor

Dr. Daniele Provenzano

Third Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Pruitt


The invasion of woody plants into grassland communities, or shrub encroachment, is a worldwide phenomenon usually attributed to anthropogenic interference. Most studies have focused on temperate and arctic biomes. Less is known about how shrub encroachment is affecting humid tropical grasslands, which have different climates, higher levels of biodiversity and different histories of human land use. This project quantifies the rate of woody vegetation change in a humid tropical grassland of Venezuela using remote sensing over the past quarter century and ground based measurements of selected individual species. Results of remote sensing indicate high rates of conversion of grasslands to shrubland. Ground-based measurements of density of a common woody invasive shrub, and five species of forbs common to pristine grasslands were compared across a gradient of shrub encroachment. Shrub density underwent an order of magnitude increase, resulting in a local impoverishment of grassland plants.


Copyright 2017 Soraya A. Delgado. All Rights Reserved.

Included in

Biology Commons