Functional significance of ungulate diversity in African savannas and the ecological implications of the spread of pastoralism

Author(s)J.T. Du Toit and D.H.M. Cumming
Year Published1999
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Page Numbers1643-1661
Size136.47 KB
Abstract:

The African savanna biome supports a higher diversity of ungulate species than is found in any other biome or continent. This exceptional faunal diversity and herbivore biomass density is directly linked to the high spatial heterogeneity of African savanna ecosystems. The dependence of herbivore dietary tolerance on body size translates into important size-related differences between savanna ungulate species in terms of habitat specificity, geographical range, and the share of community resources exploited. Intact savanna ungulate communities, with species distributed across body size classes and feeding guilds (grazer/browser), have strong regulatory influences on savanna ecosystem structure and function. Replacement with livestock systems of low diversity and high biomass density within a narrow body size range has occurred through the removal of competitors, pathogens, and predators, and the widespread provisioning of water. Overgrazing by livestock, coupled with episodic droughts, has caused widespread rangeland degradation and loss of floristic and faunal diversity which, by current models, is unlikely to recover to ‘climax’ conditions even with destocking. In selected regions where potential still exists, African savanna biodiversity and human economic development will both be best served by the integration of sustainable wildlife utilization into multispecies animal production systems.

Keywords: African savannas, biodiversity, conservation, multispecies animal production
Authors: J.T. Du Toit and D.H.M. Cumming
Journal: Biodiversity and Conservation 


FileAction
1999-Du-Toit_Functional-significance-of-ungulate-diversity-in-African-savannas-and-the-ecological-implications-of-the-spread-of-pastoralism.pdfDownload 
Terms and Conditions: Any PDF files provided by the GRC are for personal use only and may not be reproduced. The files reflect the holdings of the GRC library and only contain pages relevant to giraffe study, and may not be complete. Users are obliged to follow all copyright restrictions.