Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Poaching threatens savannah ecosystems

12.02.2014
White rhinoceros may be extinct in twenty years with the current poaching rates. The loss of this megaherbivore is in itself a tragedy, but it may also have tremendous effects on the ecosystems they now live in.

Rhino
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

The white rhino (Ceratotherium simum), and other megaherbivores, are key drivers of ecosystem functioning because they´re not controlled by predation.

A new study by Joris Cromsigt and Mariska te Beest, published in Journal of Ecology, highlights the role of the white rhino in the savannah ecosystems.

Earlier empirical studies on the ecosystem impact of megaherbivores are strongly biased to African elephant with very little contemporary evidence for other megaherbivore species. Cromsigt and te Beest quantifies how rhino recolonized Kruger National Park (KNP) following their re-introduction in the 1960s to create a unique ‘recolonization experiment’ and tests how this megagrazer is affecting the structure of savanna grasslands.

The researchers identified landscapes that rhino recolonized long time ago versus landscapes that were recolonized more recently. The assumption was that time since colonization represents a proxy for extent of rhino impact. Grassland heterogeneity on 40 transects covering a total of 30 kilometer were recorded. Short grass cover was clearly higher in the high rhino impact than low rhino impact landscape. Moreover, they encountered about 20 times more grazing lawns, a specific grassland community, in the high rhino impact landscape.

The conclusion is that white rhinoceros may have started to change the structure and composition of KNP’s savanna grasslands. The amount of short grass in savannas has important consequences for other species, but also components of ecosystem functioning such as fire regimes. The results highlight that this poaching crisis not only affects the species but threatens the potentially key role of this megaherbivore as a driver of savannah functioning.

Restoration of a megaherbivore: landscape-level impacts of white rhinoceros in Kruger National Park, South Africa

The article is published online in Journal of Ecology 12 feb 2014,
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12218 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2745.12218/abstract
Contact information: Assistant Professor Joris Cromsigt, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies, joris.cromsigt@slu.se

+27 727547596

Pressofficer: Olof Bergvall, +46 90-786 82 11, olof.bergvall@slu.se

Weitere Informationen:
http://www.slu.se/en/departments/wildlife-fish-environmental-studies/staff/list/cromsigt-joris/

Joris Cromsigt personal webpage

Olof Bergvall | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservation scientists asking wrong questions on climate change impacts on wildlife
31.07.2014 | Wildlife Conservation Society

nachricht Boat noise impacts development and survival of sea hares
31.07.2014 | University of Bristol

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Counting down to FEBS-EMBO 2014 in Paris, France

29.07.2014 | Event News

9th European Wood-Based Panel Symposium 2014 – meeting point for the wood-based material branch

24.07.2014 | Event News

“Lens on Life” - Artists and Scientists Explore Cell Divison

08.07.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

Igniting a supernova explosion

01.08.2014 | Physics and Astronomy

When Particles Fall Left and Right at the Same Time

01.08.2014 | Physics and Astronomy

Quick blood test for malaria

01.08.2014 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>