Okaukuejo, Namibia
Okaukuejo, Namibia

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Turner W.C.,University of Oslo | Turner W.C.,University of California at Berkeley | Kausrud K.L.,University of Oslo | Krishnappa Y.S.,University of Oslo | And 12 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2014

Parasites can shape the foraging behaviour of their hosts through cues indicating risk of infection. When cues for risk co-occur with desired traits such as forage quality, individuals face a trade-off between nutrient acquisition and parasite exposure.We evaluated how this trade-off may influence disease transmission in a 3-year experimental study of anthrax in a guild ofmammalian herbivores in Etosha National Park, Namibia. At plains zebra (Equus quagga) carcass sites we assessed (i) carcass nutrient effects on soils and grasses, (ii) concentrations of Bacillus anthracis (BA) on grasses and in soils, and (iii) herbivore grazing behaviour, compared with control sites, using motion-sensing camera traps. We found that carcass-mediated nutrient pulses improved soil and vegetation, and that BA is found on grasses up to 2 years after death. Host foraging responses to carcass sites shifted from avoidance to attraction, and ultimately to no preference, with the strength and duration of these behavioural responses varying among herbivore species. Our results demonstrate that animal carcasses alter the environment and attract grazing hosts to parasite aggregations. This attraction may enhance transmission rates, suggesting that hosts are limited in their ability to trade off nutrient intake with parasite avoidance when relying on indirect cues. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Polansky L.,Colorado State University | Polansky L.,University of California at Davis | Kilian W.,Etosha Ecological Institute | Wittemyer G.,Colorado State University
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2015

Spatial memory facilitates resource acquisition where resources are patchy, but how it influences movement behaviour of wide-ranging species remains to be resolved. We examined African elephant spatial memory reflected in movement decisions regarding access to perennial waterholes. State–space models of movement data revealed a rapid, highly directional movement behaviour almost exclusively associated with visiting perennial water. Behavioural change point (BCP) analyses demonstrated that these goal-oriented movements were initiated on average 4.59 km, and up to 49.97 km, from the visited waterhole, with the closest waterhole accessed 90% of the time. Distances of decision points increased when switching to different waterholes, during the dry season, or for female groups relative to males, while selection of the closest waterhole decreased when switching. Overall, our analyses indicated detailed spatial knowledge over large scales, enabling elephants to minimize travel distance through highly directional movement when accessing water. We discuss the likely cognitive and socioecological mechanisms driving these spatially precise movements that are most consistent with our findings. By applying modern analytic techniques to high-resolution movement data, this study illustrates emerging approaches for studying how cognition structures animal movement behaviour in different ecological and social contexts. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


PubMed | Etosha Ecological Institute, University of California at Davis and Colorado State University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings. Biological sciences | Year: 2015

Spatial memory facilitates resource acquisition where resources are patchy, but how it influences movement behaviour of wide-ranging species remains to be resolved. We examined African elephant spatial memory reflected in movement decisions regarding access to perennial waterholes. State-space models of movement data revealed a rapid, highly directional movement behaviour almost exclusively associated with visiting perennial water. Behavioural change point (BCP) analyses demonstrated that these goal-oriented movements were initiated on average 4.59 km, and up to 49.97 km, from the visited waterhole, with the closest waterhole accessed 90% of the time. Distances of decision points increased when switching to different waterholes, during the dry season, or for female groups relative to males, while selection of the closest waterhole decreased when switching. Overall, our analyses indicated detailed spatial knowledge over large scales, enabling elephants to minimize travel distance through highly directional movement when accessing water. We discuss the likely cognitive and socioecological mechanisms driving these spatially precise movements that are most consistent with our findings. By applying modern analytic techniques to high-resolution movement data, this study illustrates emerging approaches for studying how cognition structures animal movement behaviour in different ecological and social contexts.


Kanime N.,Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture & Technology | Kanime N.,Etosha Ecological Institute | Kaushal R.,Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture & Technology | Kaushal R.,Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute | And 4 more authors.
Forests Trees and Livelihoods | Year: 2013

Biomass, carbon storage and carbon dioxide mitigation potential of plantations of Populus deltoides, Eucalyptus tereticornis, Dalbergia sissoo, Mangifera indica, Litchi chinensis and Prunus salicina were assessed. Being economically viable, such tree plantations are grown by farmers on a large scale in north India. The maximum total biomass (94.8Mgha-1) was observed in a 10-year-old D. sissoo monoculture plantation, followed by an 8-year-old P. deltoides block plantation (63.0Mg ha-1). Carbon stocks ranged from 4.51Mgha-1 in an 8-year-old P. deltoides boundary plantation to 43.39Mgha-1 in D. sissoo plantation. The carbon sequestration rate for P. deltoides block and boundary plantations was estimated to be 2.75 and 0.43MgCha-1 year-1, respectively. Eucalyptus boundary plantation sequestered 0.84MgCha-1 year-1 while D. sissoo plantation sequestered 2.73MgCha-1 year-1. Among fruit trees, the highest sequestration rate was recorded in M. indica (mango) plantation, with 1.43MgCha21 year-1. © 2013 Taylor &Francis.


Turner W.C.,University of California at Berkeley | Versfeld W.D.,Etosha Ecological Institute | Kilian J.W.,Etosha Ecological Institute | Getz W.M.,University of California at Berkeley | Getz W.M.,University of Pretoria
Journal of Animal Ecology | Year: 2012

1.Seasonality of rainfall can exert a strong influence on animal condition and on host-parasite interactions. The body condition of ruminants fluctuates seasonally in response to changes in energy requirements, foraging patterns and resource availability, and seasonal variation in parasite infections may further alter ruminant body condition. 2.This study disentangles the effects of rainfall and gastrointestinal parasite infections on springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) body condition and determines how these factors vary among demographic groups. 3.Using data from fouryears and three study areas, we investigated (i) the influence of rainfall variation, demographic factors and parasite interactions on parasite prevalence or infection intensity, (ii) whether parasitism or rainfall is a more important predictor of springbok body condition and (iii) how parasitism and condition vary among study areas along a rainfall gradient. 4.We found that increased parasite intensity is associated with reduced body condition only for adult females. For all other demographic groups, body condition was significantly related to prior rainfall and not to parasitism. Rainfall lagged by twomonths had a positive effect on body condition. 5.Adult females showed evidence of a 'periparturient rise' in parasite intensity and had higher parasite intensity and lower body condition than adult males after parturition and during early lactation. After juveniles were weaned, adult females had lower parasite intensity than adult males. Sex differences in parasitism and condition may be due to differences between adult females and males in the seasonal timing of reproductive effort and its effects on host immunity, as well as documented sex differences in vulnerability to predation. 6.Our results highlight that parasites and the environment can synergistically affect host populations, but that these interactions might be masked by their interwoven relationships, their differential impacts on demographic groups, and the different time-scales at which they operate. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Animal Ecology © 2011 British Ecological Society.


Beyer W.,University of Hohenheim | Bellan S.,University of California at Berkeley | Eberle G.,Central Veterinary Laboratory | Ganz H.H.,University of California at Berkeley | And 7 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2012

The recent development of genetic markers for Bacillus anthracis has made it possible to monitor the spread and distribution of this pathogen during and between anthrax outbreaks. In Namibia, anthrax outbreaks occur annually in the Etosha National Park (ENP) and on private game and livestock farms. We genotyped 384 B. anthracis isolates collected between 1983-2010 to identify the possible epidemiological correlations of anthrax outbreaks within and outside the ENP and to analyze genetic relationships between isolates from domestic and wild animals. The isolates came from 20 animal species and from the environment and were genotyped using a 31-marker multi-locus-VNTR-analysis (MLVA) and, in part, by twelve single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers and four single nucleotide repeat (SNR) markers. A total of 37 genotypes (GT) were identified by MLVA, belonging to four SNP-groups. All GTs belonged to the A-branch in the cluster- and SNP-analyses. Thirteen GTs were found only outside the ENP, 18 only within the ENP and 6 both inside and outside. Genetic distances between isolates increased with increasing time between isolations. However, genetic distance between isolates at the beginning and end of the study period was relatively small, indicating that while the majority of GTs were only found sporadically, three genetically close GTs, accounting for more than four fifths of all the ENP isolates, appeared dominant throughout the study period. Genetic distances among isolates were significantly greater for isolates from different host species, but this effect was small, suggesting that while species-specific ecological factors may affect exposure processes, transmission cycles in different host species are still highly interrelated. The MLVA data were further used to establish a model of the probable evolution of GTs within the endemic region of the ENP. SNR-analysis was helpful in correlating an isolate with its source but did not elucidate epidemiological relationships. © 2012 Beyer et al.


Riddell E.S.,University of KwaZulu - Natal | Kilian W.,Etosha Ecological Institute | Versfeld W.,Etosha Ecological Institute | Kosoana M.,Etosha Ecological Institute
Koedoe | Year: 2016

The Etosha National Park (ENP) is a large protected area in northern Namibia. While the ENP has received a lot of research attention in terms of terrestrial ecosystem process understanding in recent decades, aquatic and hydrological research has to date been limited to a descriptive form. This study provides a baseline hydrological data set of the spatial representation of Oand H-isotope ratios in the groundwater at a park scale, with a focus on three water point types utilised by game, namely natural artesian and contact springs as well as artificial boreholes. The data are used to infer broad-scale hydrological process from groundwater recharge mechanisms dominated by direct rainfall recharge in the west of the ENP to evaporative controls on surface water recharge pathways in the east of the ENP close to Fishers Pan. The findings are used to recommend further targeted research and monitoring to aid management of water resources in the ENP. Conservation implications: The terrestrial ecosystem, particularly large game, are tightly coupled to the distribution of available surface water in the ENP, notably contact and artesian springs. Within the ENP there is a perceived desiccation of these springs. This study provides a baseline upon which more comprehensive studies should be undertaken to differentiate natural from anthropogenic causes for this phenomenon. © 2016. The Authors.


Krienitz L.,Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries | Krienitz D.,Waldstrasse 20a | Dadheech P.K.,Central University of Rajasthan | Hubener T.,University of Rostock | And 4 more authors.
Hydrobiologia | Year: 2016

Lesser Flamingo, the flagship species of saline wetlands of Africa and India, is a specialised feeder subsisting on microscopic cyanobacteria and algae. To establish the relationship between flamingo occurrence and food algal abundance and quality, an extensive microphyte survey in more than 150 sampling trips to seven countries over a 15-years period (2001–2015) was carried out. The 44 habitat sites included the core soda lakes in eastern Africa (Bogoria, Nakuru, Elmentaita, Oloidien), where the highest numbers of flamingos were observed, and five breeding sites in eastern and southern Africa as well as in north-western India. A reference describing the diversity of microphytes was established including members of three orders of cyanobacteria and nine orders of eukaryotic algae that potentially could act as food source for Lesser Flamingos. Preferred food organisms consisted of filamentous cyanobacteria, mainly Arthrospira, as well as benthic diatoms. Further investigation on the suitability of other microphytes as alternative flamingo diet revealed the food potential of chlorophytes and euglenophytes. This paper discusses a phycological perspective in the feeding ecology of Lesser Flamingos. The survey findings can assist scientists and conservationists in evaluating the potential of wetlands to support flocks of this endangered bird. © 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland


Franz M.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | Franz M.,University of Gottingen | Kramer-Schadt S.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | Kramer-Schadt S.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | And 4 more authors.
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2010

The distribution of surface water affects herbivore-vegetation interactions in arid and semi-arid regions. Limited access to surface water typically results in the emergence of vegetation gradients around natural and artificial water sources. In particular, African elephants can create large-scale gradients of woody vegetation. Understanding the dynamics of these gradients is of particular importance for the conservation of other, less mobile herbivores that depend on woody vegetation in areas close to water. While rainfall is known to be a key determinant of herbivore-vegetation interactions in dry areas, we only have limited understanding on how it impacts woody vegetation gradients around waterholes. To address this problem, we developed a deterministic simulation model that describes the interplay of rainfall, elephants and woody vegetation in the vicinity of waterholes. The model is based on elephant telemetry data and the ecological conditions in Etosha National Park (ENP), Namibia. We found that decreasing amounts of rainfall led to an increased degradation of woody vegetation, which was particularly severe in areas close to water. Based on this result we conclude that low rainfall was an important driver of recently observed patterns of vegetation degradation in ENP. More generally, rainfall appears to be a key factor that determines elephant-vegetation interactions and thus dynamics of woody vegetation gradients around waterholes. Using long-term rainfall data from ENP, we also demonstrate that an increase in the number of water sources during periods of low rainfall can mitigate the destructive impact of elephants in areas close to water. However, more research is required to assess the sustainability and effectiveness of rainfall-adapted strategies of artificial water provisioning in more detail. In particular it is important to investigate potential effects on elephant population dynamics. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

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