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Elephants, woodlands and biodiversity in southern Africa.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Matina C. Kalcounis-Rüppell, Associate Professor (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: When elephant densities exceed approximately 0.5 per km[2], savanna woodlands are generally converted to shrub-lands or grasslands. The impact of such elephant-mediated habitat change on biodiversity in African game reserves has seldom been measured. We examined species richness of woody plants, birds, bats, mantises and ants in reserves where elephants had destroyed the miombo woodland and in adjacent but intact miombo woodlands outside the reserves. Species richness of woodland birds and ants was significantly lower where elephants had removed the tree canopy. Our findings may have important policy implications for conserving biodiversity in many African reserves in the face of rapidly growing elephant populations (approximately 5% per annum). The problem is further compounded by international public pressures against reducing elephant densities within game reserves while, outside these protected areas, savanna woodlands and their associated faunas are being lost to agriculture. Where then will refugia for habitat-sensitive species exist if not within the region's largest protected areas?

Additional Information

Publication
South African Journal of Science 93: 231-236
Language: English
Date: 1997
Keywords
Elephants, Woodlands, Biodiversity, Southern Africa