Savanna fires govern community structure of ungulates in Bénoué National Park, Cameroon

L.F. Klop, J. Goethem

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18 Citations (Scopus)


We studied the effects of savanna fires on the structure of local ungulate communities in a West African woodland savanna. The distribution of 11 ungulate species over 9¿15 burned sites (the number of which increased as burning activity continued during the dry season) and 7¿13 unburned sites was compared with a variety of null models or randomized `virtual communities¿. Five different parameters of community structure were examined: body mass distribution, co-occurrence patterns, species richness, species density and guild dominance. Overall, ungulate species were not randomly distributed over burned and unburned sites. The regular spacing of body masses in the set of species recorded on burned and unburned sites indicated competition, since species similar in body mass are more likely to compete than species of different size. However, co-occurrence patterns on burned sites were random, indicating absence of competition at fine spatial scales due to differential habitat use within the burned landscape. Although the attractiveness of the regrowth on burned sites resulted in higher numbers of ungulates compared with unburned sites, species richness was not different. Grazers were the dominant guild on burned sites, but there were no differences in species richness or species density between grazers and browsers on unburned sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • species cooccurrence patterns
  • herbivore assemblages
  • resource competition
  • african savanna
  • ant assemblages
  • desert rodents
  • santa-rosalia
  • south-africa
  • null model
  • body-size

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