Phylogenetic analysis of plant community assemblages in the Kruger National Park, South Africa
- Authors: Yessoufou, Kowiyou
- Date: 2012-08-16
- Subjects: Plant communities , Kruger National Park (South Africa) , Cladistic analysis , Savanna ecology , Herbivores
- Type: Thesis
- Identifier: uj:9574 , http://hdl.handle.net/10210/5998
- Description: D.Phil. , What underlies species distribution and species coexistence has long been of key interest in community ecology. Several methods and theories have been used to address this question. However, it still remains a controversial debate. The recent development of plant DNA barcodes with possibility of merging phylogeny with ecology brings high expectation in uncovering the processes underlying community assemblages. Previous works that used molecular approach in community ecology focused mainly on rainforests. Using a phylogenetic approach, this study brings novel understandings about savanna ecology, especially regarding how megaherbivores impact plant community composition. The Kruger National Park (KNP) is one of the world’s largest reserves, but less studied from a phylogenetic perspective. A DNA database of 445 DNA sequences (plant DNA barcodes, rbcLa + matK) was generated for the woody plants of the KNP. This database proves reliable in reconstructing the phylogeny of Angiosperms of the park. Based on this phylogeny, the present study characterised plant community composition, and investigated how megaherbivores influence this composition. Results indicate that plant communities in the KNP are not neutral, i.e. they are more clustered than expected under various null models. This suggests that ecological forces, most likely habitat filtering may be playing key role in dictating community structure in the KNP. The KNP is well-known for its richness in megaherbivores. The contribution of these animals to the current shape of plant community structures was therefore further investigated. Where megaherbivores have been excluded, plant diversity decreases, but shifts in plant community structure are contingent upon the initial community composition, suggesting that herbivory might be important filter that drives the clustering pattern observed.
- Full Text:
Review of the ecological implications of artificial waterhole closures in the Kruger National Park and the effect thereof on tourism
- Authors: Van Wyk, Louise
- Date: 2011-06-22T10:45:30Z
- Subjects: Watering troughs , Savanna ecology , Tourists attitudes , Kruger National Park (South Africa)
- Type: Thesis
- Identifier: http://ujcontent.uj.ac.za8080/10210/388491 , uj:7117 , http://hdl.handle.net/10210/3710
- Description: M.Sc. , Boreholes in the Kruger National Park (KNP) was at first developed to increase the number of animals that were at low densities because of poaching, diseases, fencing and low permanent water availability. This development of artificial waterholes without managerial measures or knowledge of possible consequence led to negative impacts on the environment. These included that the higher concentration of herbivores around artificial waterholes led to a change in vegetation; secondary vegetation growth did not support the feeding habits of water dependent species; the infiltration rate of water in the soil surrounding waterholes changed and animal distribution patterns also changed, in turn changing the predatory base. Due to the above the KNP developed a new water policy. The policy states that all artificial waterholes that are open should be part of natural ecosystem principles. This led to the closure of many artificial waterholes that did not conform to the requirements of the new water policy. This study aimed to determine the ecological implications of artificial waterholes and whether tourism will be affected by the closure of these artificial waterholes. The following two hypothesis were thus tested in this project: i) Artificial waterholes have ecological implications on the environment. ii) The closure of artificial waterholes will have a negative response from tourists and thus affect tourism to the KNP. The results from this project indicated that both these hypothesises can be accepted as the available literature clearly showed that artificial waterholes do have a negative impact on the environment and that the majority of the tourist questioned asked for the waterholes to be opened again. The latter reaction was mainly due to the tourist‟s concern that the animals will suffer and die without water. Furthermore the visitors are concerned they won‟t see animals anymore. This result can partly be due to the low awareness of the visitors on the subject. No effort was made to communicate these decisions, and the reasons it‟s based on, to the public. Although a certain number of artificial waterholes were closed according to the new KNP policy, it is still important to keep a number open due to fact that KNP is not a natural system. It is suggested however that the closure of the artificial waterholes take place differently, following a principle of rotational opening and closing of patches of waterholes to allow recovery of vegetation and facilitate migration between waterholes.
- Full Text: