The spatial and temporal ecology of the large mammal populations and vegetation of Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Oates, L 2012, The spatial and temporal ecology of the large mammal populations and vegetation of Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve and is home to tens of thousands of large mammals. This study documents the historical ecology of the crater from 1892 to 2012 based on an analysis of the published literature and it investigates the potential effects of vegetation change on the dynamics of large mammal populations using remote sensing and GIS techniques. Primary drivers of changes in the crater appear to be disease, vegetation change and poaching. Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) have declined and been replaced by buffalo (Syncerus coffer) as the dominant herbivore in terms of biomass primarily due to vegetation change, while black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) have reduced to population-threatening numbers due to poaching. Satellite imagery indicates that the woody shrub Gutenbergia cordifolia covered a large portion of the crater's grasslands in 2001, however by 2008 the species had almost disappeared. There is no evidence that the distributions of five large herbivore species (wildebeest, zebra (Equus burchellii), Grant's gazelle (Nanger granti), Thomson's gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii) and warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus}} are negatively affected by the presence of G. cordifolia and the species may therefore not be a significant threat to the large mammal community, in spite of anecdotal evidence to the contrary. The Lerai Forest, a previously important black rhinoceros calving refuge, has declined in area since the 1970s. However, in recent years the loss of trees has slowed and some regeneration appears to be occurring. In the future the most important driver of change in the crater is likely to be climate change due to its potential negative effect on the availability of fresh water in the crater.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Rees, P (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2021 13:17
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:56
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/61370

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