The affects of artificial water availability on large herbivore ranging patterns in savanna habitats: a new approach based on modelling elephant path distributions

Shannon, Graeme and Matthews, Wayne S. and Page, Bruce R. and Parker, Guy E. and Smith, Robert J. (2009) The affects of artificial water availability on large herbivore ranging patterns in savanna habitats: a new approach based on modelling elephant path distributions. Diversity and Distributions, 15 (5). pp. 776-783. ISSN 1366-9516. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Aim|Artificial water points are often used in protected savanna ecosystems to maintain populations of large herbivores. However, these interventions lead to increased ranging and foraging pressure and can negatively impact important habitats and species. This study investigated the influence of artificial water provision on the foraging and movement paths of an African elephant population and modelled the impact of changing water availability on sensitive habitat types.|Location|Tembe Elephant Park (TEP), KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.|Methods|We mapped and classified 414 km of elephant movement and foraging paths in a 300-km(2) fenced protected area. The data were analysed to determine the relationship between path size, distribution and distance to water. We also used a logistic modelling approach to explore the predicted effects of removing artificial water points on path distribution.|Results|Elephant paths were unevenly distributed throughout the habitats of TEP and the most established and heavily used paths were found closest to water. We also discovered a number of elephant 'rest areas' along the paths, which were distinct clearings that tended to be close to water and in sand forest habitat. Our model predicted that the removal of artificial water points would reduce the area crossed by elephant paths by 79%, leading to an 89% reduction in the presence of elephant paths in sand forest.|Main conclusions|Our study provides further evidence that manipulating surface water availability can be a useful tool for managing large herbivore impacts on vegetation and acts as the basis for further research on the trade-offs between conservation objectives.

Item Type: Article
Additional information: Cited References Count:39
Uncontrolled keywords: Herbivore Loxodonta africana savanna surface water Tembe Elephant Park vegetation impacts wildlife management KRUGER-NATIONAL-PARK SOUTH-AFRICA LANDSCAPE HETEROGENEITY SEXUAL SEGREGATION LOXODONTA-AFRICANA GAME RESERVE HOME-RANGE POPULATION MANAGEMENT MAPUTALAND
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Bob Smith
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2011 13:17
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2014 10:47
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