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Elephants and Savanna Woodland Ecosystems: A Study from Chobe National Park, Botswana

Elephants and Savanna Woodland Ecosystems: A Study from Chobe National Park, Botswana

Christina Skarpe (Editor), Johan T. du Toit (Editor), Stein R. Moe (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-470-67176-4

Jun 2014, Wiley-Blackwell

324 pages

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£77.50

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Description

During the nineteenth century, ivory hunting caused a substantial decrease of elephant numbers in southern Africa. Soon after that, populations of many other large and medium-sized herbivores went into steep decline due to the rinderpest pandemic in the 1890s. These two events provided an opportunity for woodland establishment in areas previously intensively utilized by elephants and other herbivores. The return of elephants to currently protected areas of their former range has greatly influenced vegetation locally and the resulting potential negative effects on biodiversity are causing concern among stakeholders, managers, and scientists.

This book focuses on the ecological effects of the increasing elephant population in northern Botswana, presenting the importance of the elephants for the heterogeneity of the system, and showing that elephant ecology involves much wider spatiotemporal scales than was previously thought. Drawing on the results of their research, the authors discuss elephant-caused effects on vegetation in nutrient-rich and nutrient-poor savannas, and the potential competition between elephants on the one hand and browsers and mixed feeders on the other.

Ultimately this text provides a comprehensive review of ecological processes in African savannas, covering long-term ecosystem changes and human-wildlife conflicts. It summarises new knowledge on the ecology of the sub-humid African savanna ecosystems to advance the general functional understanding of savanna ecosystems across moisture and nutrient gradients.

List of Contributors xi

Foreword xiii
Norman Owen-Smith

Preface xvii

Part I The Chobe Ecosystems 1

1. Introduction 3
Christina Skarpe and Stein R. Moe

2. The Chobe Environment 7
Christina Skarpe and Susan Ringrose

3. Elephant-Mediated Ecosystem Processes in Kalahari-SandWoodlands 30
Johan T. du Toit, Stein R. Moe and Christina Skarpe

Part II The Substrate 41

4. Historical Changes of Vegetation in the Chobe Area 43
Christina Skarpe, Håkan Hytteborn, Stein R. Moe and Per Arild Aarrestad

5. Vegetation: Between Soils and Herbivores 61
Per Arild Aarrestad, Håkan Hytteborn, Gaseitsiwe Masunga and Christina Skarpe

Part III The Agent 89

6. Guns, Ivory and Disease: Past Influences on the Present Status of Botswana’s Elephants and their Habitats 91
Mark. E. Vandewalle and Kathy. A. Alexander

7. The Chobe Elephants: One Species, Two Niches 104
Sigbjørn Stokke and Johan T. du Toit

8. Surface Water and Elephant Ecology: Lessons from a Waterhole-Driven Ecosystem, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe 118
Simon Chamaillé-Jammes, Marion Valeix, Hillary Madzikanda and Hervé Fritz

Part IV Controllers 133

9. Soil as Controller of and Responder to Elephant Activity 135
Christina Skarpe, Gaseitsiwe Masunga, Per Arild Aarrestad and Peter G.H. Frost

10. Impala as Controllers of Elephant-Driven Change within a Savanna Ecosystem 154
Stein R. Moe, Lucas Rutina, HåkanHytteborn and Johan T. du Toit

11. Buffalo and Elephants: Competition and Facilitation in the Dry Season on the Chobe Floodplain 172
Duncan J. Halley, Cyril Taolo and Stein R. Moe

Part V Responders 187

12. Plant–Herbivore Interactions 189
Christina Skarpe, Roger Bergström, Shimane Makhabu, Tuulikki Rooke, Håkan Hytteborn and Kjell Danell

13. Elephants and the Grazing and Browsing Guilds 207
Christina Skarpe, Stein R. Moe, MärthaWallgren and Sigbjørn Stokke

14. Cascading Effects on Smaller Mammals and Gallinaceous Birds of Elephant Impacts on Vegetation Structure 229
Sigbjørn Stokke, Sekgowa S. Motsumi,Thato B. Sejoe and Jon E. Swenson

15. The Chobe Riverfront Lion Population: A Large Predator as Responder to Elephant-Induced Habitat Heterogeneity 251
Harry P. Andreassen, Gosiame Neo-Mahupeleng, Øystein Flagstad and PerWegge

Part VI Elephants in Social-Ecological Systems 269

16. Human Dimensions of Elephant Ecology 271
Eivin Røskaft, Thor Larsen, Rapelang Mojaphoko, A. H. M. Raihan Sarker and Craig Jackson

17. Elephants and Heterogeneity in Savanna Landscapes 289
Johan T. du Toit, Christina Skarpe and Stein R. Moe

Index 299

“The volume points to the value of careful analysis of ecosystems whenever management policies are being developed: the authors present convincing evidence of elephants’ beneficial impacts to the Chobe ecosystem.”  (The Quarterly Review of Biology, 1 December 2015)