High elephant impact is capable of converting tall mopane woodland to shrubland in the South East Lowveld of Zimbabwe

 

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dc.contributor.advisor Midgley, Jeremy J en_ZA
dc.contributor.advisor Clegg, Bruce en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Ferguson, Angela Joan en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2015-05-06T14:23:30Z
dc.date.available 2015-05-06T14:23:30Z
dc.date.issued 2014 en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Ferguson, A. 2014. High elephant impact is capable of converting tall mopane woodland to shrubland in the South East Lowveld of Zimbabwe. University of Cape Town. en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/11427/12767
dc.description Includes bibliographical references. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract African elephants are known to be important agents of structural and compositional changes in several vegetation types in southern Africa. This is of concern for biodiversity conservation and management of wildlife areas in the region. This study assesses how increasing elephant numbers have already altered and are likely to continue to modify the structure and composition of mopane woodlands in the south-eastern lowveld of Zimbabwe. Several features of vegetation structure and composition were quantified and compared across areas under three different elephant densities: low, intermediate and high. We assessed the degree, nature and patterns of damage incurred by woody plants within these woodlands to determine how elephants are both driving and responding to the changes in the vegetation. Increasing elephant densities were associated with increased losses of tall trees and the resultant development of a coppiced shrub layer. As elephant densities increased from low to intermediate levels, so did the level of damage to both shrubs and trees. However, elephants appeared to exhibit a functional response such that the increase in damage to the shrub layer was proportionately higher than to trees, probably because the coppiced shrub layer was a preferable food source. Nevertheless if elephant density increases further to high levels, damage to trees is likely to continue increasing suggesting that tree losses are likely to continue. In particular, the high level of bark damage to emergent trees is predicted to contribute greatly to further tree losses. This study provides evidence to suggest that increasing elephant impact is capable of completely converting tall mopane woodlands to shrublands. This is likely to have indirect effects on the ecosystem functioning and diversity of these areas as well as tourism, and is consequently of concern for local management. Continued monitoring of these woodlands and management of elephant abundance is advisable if a total conversion to shrubland is to be avoided. en_ZA
dc.language.iso eng en_ZA
dc.subject.other Conservation Biology en_ZA
dc.title High elephant impact is capable of converting tall mopane woodland to shrubland in the South East Lowveld of Zimbabwe en_ZA
dc.type Bachelor Thesis
uct.type.publication Research en_ZA
uct.type.resource Thesis en_ZA
dc.publisher.institution University of Cape Town
dc.publisher.faculty Faculty of Science en_ZA
dc.publisher.department Department of Biological Sciences en_ZA
dc.type.qualificationlevel Honours
dc.type.qualificationname BSc (Hons) en_ZA
uct.type.filetype Text
uct.type.filetype Image
dc.identifier.apacitation Ferguson, A. J. (2014). <i>High elephant impact is capable of converting tall mopane woodland to shrubland in the South East Lowveld of Zimbabwe</i>. (Thesis). University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Science ,Department of Biological Sciences. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/11427/12767 en_ZA
dc.identifier.chicagocitation Ferguson, Angela Joan. <i>"High elephant impact is capable of converting tall mopane woodland to shrubland in the South East Lowveld of Zimbabwe."</i> Thesis., University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Science ,Department of Biological Sciences, 2014. http://hdl.handle.net/11427/12767 en_ZA
dc.identifier.vancouvercitation Ferguson AJ. High elephant impact is capable of converting tall mopane woodland to shrubland in the South East Lowveld of Zimbabwe. [Thesis]. University of Cape Town ,Faculty of Science ,Department of Biological Sciences, 2014 [cited yyyy month dd]. Available from: http://hdl.handle.net/11427/12767 en_ZA
dc.identifier.ris TY - Thesis / Dissertation AU - Ferguson, Angela Joan AB - African elephants are known to be important agents of structural and compositional changes in several vegetation types in southern Africa. This is of concern for biodiversity conservation and management of wildlife areas in the region. This study assesses how increasing elephant numbers have already altered and are likely to continue to modify the structure and composition of mopane woodlands in the south-eastern lowveld of Zimbabwe. Several features of vegetation structure and composition were quantified and compared across areas under three different elephant densities: low, intermediate and high. We assessed the degree, nature and patterns of damage incurred by woody plants within these woodlands to determine how elephants are both driving and responding to the changes in the vegetation. Increasing elephant densities were associated with increased losses of tall trees and the resultant development of a coppiced shrub layer. As elephant densities increased from low to intermediate levels, so did the level of damage to both shrubs and trees. However, elephants appeared to exhibit a functional response such that the increase in damage to the shrub layer was proportionately higher than to trees, probably because the coppiced shrub layer was a preferable food source. Nevertheless if elephant density increases further to high levels, damage to trees is likely to continue increasing suggesting that tree losses are likely to continue. In particular, the high level of bark damage to emergent trees is predicted to contribute greatly to further tree losses. This study provides evidence to suggest that increasing elephant impact is capable of completely converting tall mopane woodlands to shrublands. This is likely to have indirect effects on the ecosystem functioning and diversity of these areas as well as tourism, and is consequently of concern for local management. Continued monitoring of these woodlands and management of elephant abundance is advisable if a total conversion to shrubland is to be avoided. DA - 2014 DB - OpenUCT DP - University of Cape Town LK - https://open.uct.ac.za PB - University of Cape Town PY - 2014 T1 - High elephant impact is capable of converting tall mopane woodland to shrubland in the South East Lowveld of Zimbabwe TI - High elephant impact is capable of converting tall mopane woodland to shrubland in the South East Lowveld of Zimbabwe UR - http://hdl.handle.net/11427/12767 ER - en_ZA


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