Model highlights likely long-term inﬂuences of mesobrowsers versus those of elephants on woodland dynamics
O'Kane, Christopher A. J.
Duffy, Kevin Jan
Page, Bruce R.
Macdonald, David W.
MetadataShow full item record
The potential long-term inﬂuences of mesobrowsers versus those of savannah elephants on woodland dynamics have not been explored. This may be a critical omission especially in southern African savannahs, where efforts to preserve existing woodlands are typically directed at elephant man-agement. We describe a simple browse–browser model, parameterized from an extensive review of the literature and our own data, including quantitative assessment of impala impact, from the study site, iMfolozi Park, South Africa. As there is a paucity of species-speciﬁc demographic data on savannah woody species, we modelled, in a novel approach, functional groups of plant species typical of Acacia wood-lands. Outputs suggest that over the long term (100 years), low-to-moderate densities of impala will have a similar impact on woodland structure, in terms of density of adult trees, as low-to-moderate densities of elephant. Further, the outputs highlight the apparently strong synergistic effect impala and elephant impacts combined have on woodland dynamics, suggesting that reduction or removal of either impala or elephant will radically reduce long-term destruc-tion of savannah woodlands. Recorded changes in adult tree numbers in iMfolozi broadly supported the model’s outputs.
O'Kane, C. A. J.; Duffy, K. J.; Page, B. R. and Macdonald, D. W. 2014. Model highlights likely long-term inﬂuences of mesobrowsers versus those of elephants on woodland dynamics. African Journal of Ecology. 52 (2) : 192–208.