Top-down and bottom-up control of large herbivore populations: a review of natural and human-induced influences

E. Gandiwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The question whether animal populations are top-down and/or bottom-up controlled has motivated a thriving body of research over the past five decades. In this review I address two questions: 1) how do top-down and bottom-up controls influence large herbivore populations? 2) How do human activities and control systems influence the top-down and bottom-up processes that affect large herbivore population dynamics? Previous studies suggest that the relative influence of top-down vs. bottom-up control varies among ecosystems at the global level, with abrupt shifts in control possible in arid and semi-arid regions during years with large differences in rainfall. Humans as super-predators exert top-down control on large wild herbivore abundances through hunting. However, through fires and livestock grazing, humans also exert bottom-up controls on large wild herbivore abundances through altering resource availability, which influences secondary productivity. This review suggests a need for further research, especially on the human-induced top-down and bottom-up control of animal populations in different terrestrial ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-505
JournalTropical conservation science
Volume6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • gonarezhou national-park
  • community structure
  • african savannas
  • food-web
  • wildlife conservation
  • aboriginal overkill
  • trophic cascades
  • southern africa
  • body-size
  • ecosystems

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