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Nairobi, Kenya

Dublin H.T.,Wasaa Conservation Center | Ogutu J.O.,University of Hohenheim | Ogutu J.O.,Kenya International Livestock Research Institute
Wildlife Research | Year: 2015

Context The processes regulating ungulate populations have been the focus of numerous studies. For the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer Sparrman) population inhabiting the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, rinderpest was the primary regulatory factor up to the mid-1960s. Following reduction of rinderpest and buffalo population increase, interspecific competition for food, notably with cattle and wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus Burchell), was thought to be the primary regulatory factor in the ecosystem. Aims We analysed buffalo population trends and the relationship between buffalo population growth and rainfall and density dependence in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem and discuss the findings in the context of the key ecosystem processes governing buffalo population dynamics in African savannas, namely, food limitation, competition, predation, disease and land use changes. Methods We analysed buffalo population dynamics in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem in relation to rainfall and density dependence feedback between 1984 and 2010. Key results Buffalo population growth was both significantly density-dependent and positively correlated with the dry season rainfall after, but not before, a severe drought in 1993. Buffalo numbers crashed by 48.6% in 1984-85 and by 76.1% in 1993-94 during severe droughts when food availability was lowest and competition with the more numerous cattle and wildebeest was highest. Conclusions Recovery of buffalo numbers to pre-drought levels took 8-9 years after the 1984-85 drought but was much slower, with buffaloes numbering merely 36% of their 1993 population (12895 animals) 18 years after the 1993-94 drought despite intermittent periods of high rainfall, probably due to demographic and/or reproductive factors, heightened competition with livestock, land use changes in the adjoining pastoral ranches, lion predation and recurrent severe droughts. Implications Our findings demonstrate how food limitation caused by droughts associated with the hemispheric El Niño-Southern Oscillation can cause severe declines in and threaten the persistence of large ungulate populations. The findings also portray how density-dependent food limitation, competition, predation, land use changes and other factors can accentuate the effect of droughts and greatly prolong population recovery. © 2015 CSIRO.

Reed M.S.,University of Aberdeen | Fazey I.,University of St. Andrews | Stringer L.C.,University of Leeds | Raymond C.M.,University of South Australia | And 28 more authors.
Land Degradation and Development | Year: 2013

It is increasingly recognised that land degradation monitoring and assessment can benefit from incorporating multiple sources of knowledge, using a variety of methods at different scales, including the perspectives of researchers, land managers and other stakeholders. However, the knowledge and methods required to achieve this are often dispersed across individuals and organisations at different levels and locations. Appropriate knowledge management mechanisms are therefore required to more efficiently harness these different sources of knowledge and facilitate their broader dissemination and application. This paper examines what knowledge is, how it is generated and explores how it may be stored, transferred and exchanged between knowledge producers and users before it is applied to monitor and assess land degradation at the local scale. It suggests that knowledge management can also benefit from the development of mechanisms that promote changes in understanding and efficient means of accessing and/or brokering knowledge. Broadly, these processes for knowledge management can (i) help identify and share good practices and build capacity for land degradation monitoring at different scales and in different contexts and (ii) create knowledge networks to share lessons learned and monitoring data among and between different stakeholders, scales and locations. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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