Possible causes of decreasing migratory ungulate populations in an East African savanna after restrictions in their seasonal movements

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Abstract

In many areas in Africa, seasonal movements of migratory ungulates are restricted and their population numbers decline, for example in the Tarangire region, Tanzania. Here, agriculture restricts migration of ungulates to their wet season ranges. We investigated whether low forage quality or supply are possible causes of population decline of wildebeest and zebra when access to these wet season ranges is restricted and migratory herds have to reside in the dry season range year-round. We simulated grazing through a clipping experiment in the dry season range during the wet season. Clipping negatively affected forage supply and had a positive effect on forage quality by increasing proportions of live and leaf biomass as well as nutrient concentrations in the leaves. However, increase in forage quality in the dry season range due to grazing was not as such that requirements of wildebeest during the wet season, when females are lactating, could be met. We conclude that low forage quality in the dry season range during the wet season could cause the decrease in migratory ungulate populations in the Tarangire region. With this study, the necessity of protecting wet season ranges from expanding human activities to safeguard migratory systems is supported
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-179
JournalAfrican Journal of Ecology
Volume48
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • serengeti wildebeest
  • mineral-nutrition
  • northern tanzania
  • forage quality
  • mara ecosystem
  • grazing lawns
  • national-park
  • land-use
  • grasslands
  • herbivores

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