The landscape-scale drivers of herbivore assemblage distribution on the central basalt plains of Kruger National Park

Cyanne Young, Hervé Fritz, Erica A.H. Smithwick, Jan A. Venter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The distribution and abundance of herbivores in African savannas are constrained by interactions between abiotic and biotic factors. At the species-level, herbivores face trade-offs among foraging requirements, vegetation structure and the availability of surface water that change over spatial and temporal scales. Characterizing herbivore requirements is necessary for the management of the environment in which they occur, as conservation management interventions such as fencing and artificial water provision consequently have effects on how herbivores address these trade-offs. We tested the effects of environmental attributes on the probability of presence of herbivore functional types at different distances to water in the Satara section of Kruger National Park over the period of a year. Hypotheses about species' relative distribution and abundance were developed through a literature review of forage and water availability constraints on feeding preference and body size of herbivore. We expected strong seasonal relationships between vegetation biomass and quality, and biomass of water-dependent herbivores with increasing distance to water. Our analyses of herbivore distribution across the region confirmed broad-scale descriptions of interactions between forage requirements and water availability across a set of species which differ in functional traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-28
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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