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Sample records for african savanna ecosystems

  1. Spatial pattern enhances ecosystem functioning in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Robert M; Doak, Daniel F; Brody, Alison K; Jocqué, Rudy; Palmer, Todd M

    2010-05-25

    The finding that regular spatial patterns can emerge in nature from local interactions between organisms has prompted a search for the ecological importance of these patterns. Theoretical models have predicted that patterning may have positive emergent effects on fundamental ecosystem functions, such as productivity. We provide empirical support for this prediction. In dryland ecosystems, termite mounds are often hotspots of plant growth (primary productivity). Using detailed observations and manipulative experiments in an African savanna, we show that these mounds are also local hotspots of animal abundance (secondary and tertiary productivity): insect abundance and biomass decreased with distance from the nearest termite mound, as did the abundance, biomass, and reproductive output of insect-eating predators. Null-model analyses indicated that at the landscape scale, the evenly spaced distribution of termite mounds produced dramatically greater abundance, biomass, and reproductive output of consumers across trophic levels than would be obtained in landscapes with randomly distributed mounds. These emergent properties of spatial pattern arose because the average distance from an arbitrarily chosen point to the nearest feature in a landscape is minimized in landscapes where the features are hyper-dispersed (i.e., uniformly spaced). This suggests that the linkage between patterning and ecosystem functioning will be common to systems spanning the range of human management intensities. The centrality of spatial pattern to system-wide biomass accumulation underscores the need to conserve pattern-generating organisms and mechanisms, and to incorporate landscape patterning in efforts to restore degraded habitats and maximize the delivery of ecosystem services.

  2. Spatial Pattern Enhances Ecosystem Functioning in an African Savanna

    PubMed Central

    Pringle, Robert M.; Doak, Daniel F.; Brody, Alison K.; Jocqué, Rudy; Palmer, Todd M.

    2010-01-01

    The finding that regular spatial patterns can emerge in nature from local interactions between organisms has prompted a search for the ecological importance of these patterns. Theoretical models have predicted that patterning may have positive emergent effects on fundamental ecosystem functions, such as productivity. We provide empirical support for this prediction. In dryland ecosystems, termite mounds are often hotspots of plant growth (primary productivity). Using detailed observations and manipulative experiments in an African savanna, we show that these mounds are also local hotspots of animal abundance (secondary and tertiary productivity): insect abundance and biomass decreased with distance from the nearest termite mound, as did the abundance, biomass, and reproductive output of insect-eating predators. Null-model analyses indicated that at the landscape scale, the evenly spaced distribution of termite mounds produced dramatically greater abundance, biomass, and reproductive output of consumers across trophic levels than would be obtained in landscapes with randomly distributed mounds. These emergent properties of spatial pattern arose because the average distance from an arbitrarily chosen point to the nearest feature in a landscape is minimized in landscapes where the features are hyper-dispersed (i.e., uniformly spaced). This suggests that the linkage between patterning and ecosystem functioning will be common to systems spanning the range of human management intensities. The centrality of spatial pattern to system-wide biomass accumulation underscores the need to conserve pattern-generating organisms and mechanisms, and to incorporate landscape patterning in efforts to restore degraded habitats and maximize the delivery of ecosystem services. PMID:20520846

  3. Carbon, Water and Energy Fluxes in an African Savanna Ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hanan, N. P.; Scholes, R. J.; Privette, J. L.

    2001-12-01

    Eddy covariance measurements of the turbulent fluxes of CO2, water and energy, and associated micrometeorological and biophysical measurements, have been made at a site in the Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa, since April 2000. The study site is located in the southern region of KNP in a gently undulating landscape on granite substrate, with drainage lines 2-3 km apart and ridge tops 30-40 meters above the valley floors. The climate is semi-arid subtropical, with hot, rainy summers, warm dry winters and annual average rainfall of 550-650 mm. The soils of the catena vary between coarse-textured sand near the ridge-tops and finer-textured loamy-sand on the mid-slope and valley floors. The vegetation also differs along the catena, with broad-leaved tree species and low palatability grasses on the sandy soil and bi-pinnate tree species and more palatable grasses on the loam soils. The natural disturbance regime of the site includes fire, at return intervals of 3-8 years, as well as grazing and browsing by numerous species of wild ungulate. Results from the first 18 months of flux measurements are presented, contrasting an unusually wet growing season (1999-2000), followed by a dry-season fire, and a growing season with more average rainfall (2000-2001). The functional and phenological differences between broad-leaf and fine-leaf savanna are explored, and the carbon and water dynamics of the savanna systems interpreted in the context of seasonal weather variation, soil type and nutrient status.

  4. Nutrient vectors and riparian nutrient processing in African semiarid savanna ecosystems

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Jacobs, Shayne M.; Bechtold, J.S.; Biggs, Harry C.; Grimm, N. B.; McClain, M.E.; Naiman, R.J.; Perakis, Steven S.; Pinay, G.; Scholes, M.C.

    2007-01-01

    This review article describes vectors for nitrogen and phosphorus delivery to riparian zones in semiarid African savannas, the processing of nutrients in the riparian zone and the effect of disturbance on these processes. Semiarid savannas exhibit sharp seasonality, complex hillslope hydrology and high spatial heterogeneity, all of which ultimately impact nutrient fluxes between riparian, upland and aquatic environments. Our review shows that strong environmental drivers such as fire and herbivory enhance nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment transport to lower slope positions by shaping vegetative patterns. These vectors differ significantly from other arid and semiarid ecosystems, and from mesic ecosystems where the impact of fire and herbivory are less pronounced and less predictable. Also unique is the presence of sodic soils in certain hillslopes, which substantially alters hydrological flowpaths and may act as a trap where nitrogen is immobilized while sediment and phosphorus transport is enhanced. Nutrients and sediments are also deposited in the riparian zone during seasonal, intermittent floods while, during the dry season, subsurface movement of water from the stream into riparian soils and vegetation further enrich riparian zones with nutrients. As is found in mesic ecosystems, nutrients are immobilized in semiarid riparian corridors through microbial and plant uptake, whereas dissimilatory processes such as denitrification may be important where labile nitrogen and carbon are in adequate supply and physical conditions are suitablea??such as in seeps, wallows created by animals, ephemeral wetlands and stream edges. Interaction between temporal hydrologic connectivity and spatial heterogeneity are disrupted by disturbances such as large floods and extended droughts, which may convert certain riparian patches from sinks to sources for nitrogen and phosphorus. In the face of increasing anthropogenic pressure, the scientific challenges are to provide a basic

  5. The Impact of Fire on Energy Balance in Southern African Savanna Ecosystems: Implications of Climate Change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dintwe, K.; Okin, G. S.; Saha, M.; Scanlon, T. M.; D'Odorico, P.; De Sales, F.; Xue, Y.

    2015-12-01

    Savannas are the most fire prone ecosystems in the world accounting for more than 75% of annual global fires. Wildfires in savannas consume large quantities of biomass releasing CO2 and aerosols while leaving ash and char residues. The residues form black-grey patches on the soil surface, and together with newly exposed bare soil patches, they play a significant role in altering surface reflectance and vegetation condition. We investigated the impact of fire on savanna albedo and vegetation greenness (from Enhanced Vegetation Index, EVI) from 2000-2014 using data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) for Africa south of the Equator. Preliminary results indicate that more mesic savannas near the Equator have the highest fire frequencies, with fire frequency generally decreasing with aridity. Immediately after fires, the average change in albedo and EVI is -5% and -10%, respectively, with the magnitude of the change increasing with aridity. The time for albedo to recover to values similar to unburned areas varied by latitude, with more mesic savannas recovering much faster (24 days vs. 65 days for dry savannas). The time for vegetation condition to recover did not vary strongly by latitude (about 65 days). The upward shortwave energy in burnt areas in mesic savannas is 53 W m-2 compared to 95 W m-2 for unburnt areas, indicating a positive forcing of about 42 W m-2 associated with mesic savanna fires locally. Approximately 7% of the (primarily savanna) land in southern Africa burns each year, suggesting an overall forcing in Africa south of the Equator of ~1-2 W m-2 associated with savanna fires. This large forcing indicates clearly the important interplay between ecosystem processes (fire) and climate (radiative forcing) in this region. With changing climate, this region is expected to become significantly drier, suggesting that the forcing due to fire might decrease in the coming decades and indicating that fire-induced albedo changes potentially

  6. The impact of land use on the net ecosystem CO2 exchanges in the West African Sudanian Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mauder, Matthias; Quansah, Emmanuel; Annor, Thompson; Balogun, Ahmed A.; Amekudzi, Leonard K.; Bliefernicht, Jan; Heinzeller, Dominikus; Kunstmann, Harald

    2016-04-01

    The land surface in West Africa has been considerably changed within the past decade due to various anthropogenic measures such as an increased agricultural activity. However, the impact of these land use changes on land-atmosphere exchange processes such as net ecosystems exchange is not well known for this highly vulnerable region. To tackle this problem, the effects of land use on the net ecosystem exchange of CO2 (NEE) along a transect of three contrasting ecosystems have been investigated on seasonal and annual time scales using the Eddy Covariance method. The ecosystems were grassland (GL), a mixture of fallow and cropland (CR) in the Upper East Region of Ghana, and a nature reserve (NR) near Pô in the Nahouri Province of Burkina Faso. The results for January to December 2013 showed that the ecosystems of the three sites served as net sinks of CO2 during the rainy season (May to October) and net sources of CO2 during the dry season (November to April). However, NR was a net sink of CO2 during the wet to dry transition period (November to December). On an annual timescale, only NR served as a net sink of CO2 from the atmosphere into the ecosystem, while the others were net sources of CO2 into the atmosphere. Furthermore, the study revealed that the three contrasting ecosystems responded to environmental and physiological factors based on the ecosystem functional types. This suggests that land use and land use management may play a significant role in the diurnal to annual sequestration and efflux patterns of NEE and its composite fluxes, gross primary production (GPP) and ecosystem respiration (ER), over the West African Sudanian Savannas.

  7. The pulsed response of soil respiration to precipitation in an African savanna ecosystem: a coupled measurement and modeling approach

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fan, Z.; Neff, J. C.; Hanan, N. P.

    2014-12-01

    Savannas cover 60% of the African continent and play an essential role in the global carbon (C) cycle. To better characterize the physical controls over soil respiration in these settings, half-hourly observations of volumetric soil-water content, temperature, and the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) at different soil depths were continually measured from 2005 to 2007 under trees ("sub-canopy") and between trees ("inter-canopy") in a savanna vegetation near Skukuza, Kruger National Park, South Africa. The measured soil climate and CO2 concentration data were assimilated into a process-based model that estimates the CO2 production and flux with coupled dynamics of dissolved organic C (DOC) and microbial biomass C. Our results show that temporal and spatial variations in CO2 flux were strongly influenced by precipitation and vegetation cover, with two times greater CO2 flux in the sub-canopy plots (~2421 g CO2 m-2 yr-1) than in the inter-canopy plots (~1290 g CO2 m-2 yr-1). Precipitation influenced soil respiration by changing soil temperature and moisture; however, our modeling analysis suggests that the pulsed response of soil respiration to precipitation [known as "Birch effect (BE)"] is a key control on soil fluxes at this site. At this site, BE contributed to approximately 50% and 65% of heterotrophic respiration or 20% and 39% of soil respiration in the sub-canopy and inter-canopy plots, respectively. These results suggest that pulsed response of respiration to precipitation is an important component of the C cycle of savannas and should be considered in both measurement and modeling studies of carbon exchange in similar ecosystems.

  8. Drivers of Intensity and Prevalence of Flea Parasitism on Small Mammals in East African Savanna Ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Young, Hillary S; Dirzo, Rodolfo; McCauley, Douglas J; Agwanda, Bernard; Cattaneo, Lia; Dittmar, Katharina; Eckerlin, Ralph P; Fleischer, Robert C; Helgen, Lauren E; Hintz, Ashley; Montinieri, John; Zhao, Serena; Helgen, Kristofer M

    2015-06-01

    The relative importance of environmental factors and host factors in explaining variation in prevalence and intensity of flea parasitism in small mammal communities is poorly established. We examined these relationships in an East African savanna landscape, considering multiple host levels: across individuals within a local population, across populations within species, and across species within a landscape. We sampled fleas from 2,672 small mammals of 27 species. This included a total of 8,283 fleas, with 5 genera and 12 species identified. Across individual hosts within a site, both rodent body mass and season affected total intensity of flea infestation, although the explanatory power of these factors was generally modest (<10%). Across host populations in the landscape, we found consistently positive effects of host density and negative effects of vegetation cover on the intensity of flea infestation. Other factors explored (host diversity, annual rainfall, anthropogenic disturbance, and soil properties) tended to have lower and less consistent explanatory power. Across host species in the landscape, we found that host body mass was strongly positively correlated with both prevalence and intensity of flea parasitism, while average robustness of a host species to disturbance was not correlated with flea parasitism. Cumulatively, these results provide insight into the intricate roles of both host and environmental factors in explaining complex patterns of flea parasitism across landscape mosaics.

  9. Patterns and Implications of Plant-Soil C and N Isotopic Compositions in African Savanna Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wang, L.; Macko, S. A.; D'Odorico, P.; Ries, L.

    2007-12-01

    Southern African savannas are mixed plant communities where C3 trees co-exist with C4 grasses. Owing to differences in their morphology and physiology, trees and grasses have different access to nutrients and water and different efficiency in the use of these resources. It is still unclear how climate variables such as the mean annual precipitation may affect the relative efficiency of grasses and trees in the use of water and soil nutrients such as nitrogen. In this study, the foliar δ15N and δ13C were used as indicators of nitrogen uptake and of water use efficiency, respectively, to investigate the effect of the rainfall regime on the use of nitrogen and water by herbaceous and woody plants. To this end, patterns of foliar δ15N and δ13C for both C3 and C4 plants as well as patterns of soil δ15N and δ13C in canopy and intercanopy areas were investigated both in the dry and in the wet season along the Kalahari megatransect, where a distinct rainfall gradient exists on a homogeneous soil substrate. Foliar δ15N signatures increased as aridity heightened for both C3 and C4 plants in both seasons, although the magnitude of the increase was different for these two plant functional types. Soil δ15N also significantly increased with aridity. Foliar δ13C signatures increased with aridity for C3 plants in the wet season but not in the dry season, while in C4 plants the relation between foliar δ13C signatures and aridity was more complex and non-linear in both seasons. The consistent higher foliar δ15N for C3 plants suggests that C4 plants are superior competitor for N. The different foliar δ13C relationships with rainfall for the C3 plants and C4 plants may indicate that the C3 plants have an advantage over C4 plants when competing for water resources. The differences in water and nitrogen use between C3 and C4 plants likely collectively contribute to the tree-grass coexistence in savannas.

  10. Determinants of woody cover in African savannas

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Sankaran, M.; Hanan, N.P.; Scholes, R.J.; Ratnam, J.; Augustine, D.J.; Cade, B.S.; Gignoux, J.; Higgins, S.I.; Le, Roux X.; Ludwig, F.; Ardo, J.; Banyikwa, F.; Bronn, A.; Bucini, G.; Caylor, K.K.; Coughenour, M.B.; Diouf, A.; Ekaya, W.; Feral, C.J.; February, E.C.; Frost, P.G.H.; Hiernaux, P.; Hrabar, H.; Metzger, K.L.; Prins, H.H.T.; Ringrose, S.; Sea, W.; Tews, J.; Worden, J.; Zambatis, N.

    2005-01-01

    Savannas are globally important ecosystems of great significance to human economies. In these biomes, which are characterized by the co-dominance of trees and grasses, woody cover is a chief determinant of ecosystem properties 1-3. The availability of resources (water, nutrients) and disturbance regimes (fire, herbivory) are thought to be important in regulating woody cover1,2,4,5, but perceptions differ on which of these are the primary drivers of savanna structure. Here we show, using data from 854 sites across Africa, that maximum woody cover in savannas receiving a mean annual precipitation (MAP) of less than ???650 mm is constrained by, and increases linearly with, MAP. These arid and semi-arid savannas may be considered 'stable' systems in which water constrains woody cover and permits grasses to coexist, while fire, herbivory and soil properties interact to reduce woody cover below the MAP-controlled upper bound. Above a MAP of ???650 mm, savannas are 'unstable' systems in which MAP is sufficient for woody canopy closure, and disturbances (fire, herbivory) are required for the coexistence of trees and grass. These results provide insights into the nature of African savannas and suggest that future changes in precipitation 6 may considerably affect their distribution and dynamics. ?? 2005 Nature Publishing Group.

  11. The relationship between satellite-derived indices and species diversity across African savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mapfumo, Ratidzo B.; Murwira, Amon; Masocha, Mhosisi; Andriani, R.

    2016-10-01

    The ability to use remotely sensed diversity is important for the management of ecosystems at large spatial extents. However, to achieve this, there is still need to develop robust methods and approaches that enable large-scale mapping of species diversity. In this study, we tested the relationship between species diversity measured in situ with the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and the Coefficient of Variation in the NDVI (CVNDVI) derived from high and medium spatial resolution satellite data at dry, wet and coastal savanna woodlands. We further tested the effect of logging on NDVI along the transects and between transects as disturbance may be a mechanism driving the patterns observed. Overall, the results of this study suggest that high tree species diversity is associated with low and high NDVI and at intermediate levels is associated with low tree species diversity and NDVI. High tree species diversity is associated with high CVNDVI and vice versa and at intermediate levels is associated with high tree species diversity and CVNDVI.

  12. Seasonal Variation and Ecosystem Dependence of Emission Factors for Selected Trace Gases and PM2.5 for Southern African Savanna Fires

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Korontzi, S.; Ward, D. E.; Susott, R. A.; Yokelson, R. J.; Justice, C. O.; Hobbs, P. V.; Smithwick, E. A. H.; Hao, W. M.

    2003-01-01

    In this paper we present the first early dry season (early June-early August) emission factor measurements for carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), methane (Ca), nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHC), and particulates with a diameter less than 2.5 microns (pM2.5) for southern African grassland and woodland fires. Seasonal emission factors for grassland fires correlate linearly with the proportion of green grass, used as a surrogate for the fuel moisture content, and are higher for products of incomplete combustion in the early part of the dry season compared with later in the dry season. Models of emission factors for NMHC and PM(sub 2.5) versus modified combustion efficiency (MCE) are statistically different in grassland compared with woodland ecosystems. We compare predictions based on the integration of emissions factors from this study, from the southern African Fire-Atmosphere Research Initiative 1992 (SAFARI-92), and from SAFARI-2000 with those based on the smaller set of ecosystem-specific emission factors to estimate the effects of using regional-average rather than ecosystem-specific emission factors. We also test the validity of using the SAFARI-92 models for emission factors versus MCE to predict the early dry season emission factors measured in this study. The comparison indicates that the largest discrepancies occur at the low end (0.907) and high end (0.972) of MCE values measured in this study. Finally, we combine our models of MCE versus proportion of green grass for grassland fires with emission factors versus MCE for selected oxygenated volatile organic compounds measured in the SAFARI-2000 campaign to derive the first seasonal emission factors for these compounds. The results of this study demonstrate that seasonal variations in savanna fire emissions are important and should be considered in modeling emissions at regional to continental scales.

  13. Seasonal Distribution of African Savanna Fires

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cahoon, Donald R.; Stocks, Brian J.; Levine, Joel S.; Cofer, Wesley R., III; O'Neill, Katherine P.

    1992-01-01

    Savannas consist of a continuous layer of grass interspersed with scattered trees or shrubs, and cover approx. 10 million square kilometers of tropical Africa. African savanna fires, almost all resulting from human activities, may produce as much as a third of the total global emissions from biomass burning. Little is known, however, about the frequency and location of these fires, and the area burned each year. Emissions from African savanna burning are known to be transported over the mid-Atlantic, south Pacific and Indian oceans; but to study fully the transport of regional savanna burning and the seasonality of the atmospheric circulation must be considered simultaneously. Here we describe the temporal and spatial distribution of savanna fires over the entire African continent, as determined from night-time satellite imagery. We find that, contrary to expectations, most fires are left to burn uncontrolled, so that there is no strong diurnal cycle in the fire frequency. The knowledge gained from this study regarding the distribution and variability of fires will aid monitoring of the climatically important trace gases emitted from burning biomass.

  14. NO x emissions from African savanna fires

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lacaux, J. P.; Delmas, R.; Jambert, C.; Kuhlbusch, T. A. J.

    1996-10-01

    Fire of Savanna/Dynamique et Chimie Atmosphèrique en Forêt Equatoriale (FOS/DECAFE-91) and Southern African Fire-Atmosphere Research Initiative (SAFARI-92) were two multidisciplinary experiments organized in Africa to determine the gas and aerosol emissions due to prescribed savanna fires. These two experiments took place in two types of savannas which have very different ecological properties: Lamto, Ivory Coast (FOS/DECAFE-91), in the Guinean area, is wet (80% moisture content) and dense (9 to 10 t ha-1) and has little litter (2 to 5% of total biomass); Kruger Park, in South Africa (SAFARI-92), on the contrary, is dry (10 to 20% moisture) and has a low biomass (3 to 6 t ha-1) and 40% of its total biomass in the form of litter. The experimental strategy used to determine the emission ratios ΔCO/ΔCO2 and ΔNOx/ΔCO2 was to measure at ground level, in the same volume of the plume above the fire, the CO, CO2 and NOx concentrations. The mean carbon content of the two savannas was similar (about 43%), and the ΔCO/ΔCO2 ratio, the indicator of the burning process, was comparable in back and head fires with mean ratios between 4.5 and 6.1%. These ΔCO/ΔCO2 ratios were characteristic of intense flaming combustion with the formation of mainly fully oxidized compounds for both savannas. The ΔCO/ΔCO2 ratio for the head fires can be divided into two distinct phases: a flaming period and a smoke period which immediately follows. Nitrogen concentration of the two savannas varied from as low as 0.3% in Lamto to 0.80% of dry mass in the Kruger Park in the Faai plot. In this study we could clearly identify a linear dependency between the nitrogen concentration of the dry and wet savannas of Africa and the NOx/CO2 emission ratio, ΔNOx/ΔCO2 = 0.66 N% - 0.01, with a correlation coefficient of 0.93, statistically significant at a confidence level better than 99%. This result enables the quantification of the emissions of NOx from African savanna burning by measuring the

  15. Seasonal distribution of African savanna fires

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cahoon, Donald R., Jr.; Stocks, Brian J.; Levine, Joel S.; Cofer, Wesley R., III; O'Neill, Katherine P.

    1992-01-01

    The temporal and spatial distribution of savanna fires over the entire African continent, as determined from nighttime satellite imagery, is described. It is found that, contrary to expectations, most fires are left to burn uncontrolled, so that there is no strong diurnal cycle in the fire frequency. The knowledge gained from this study regarding the distribution and variability of fires is helpful in the monitoring of climatically important trace gases emitted from burning biomass.

  16. Contributions of woody and herbaceous vegetation to tropical savanna ecosystem productivity: a quasi-global estimate.

    PubMed

    Lloyd, Jon; Bird, Michael I; Vellen, Lins; Miranda, Antonio Carlos; Veenendaal, Elmar M; Djagbletey, Gloria; Miranda, Heloisa S; Cook, Garry; Farquhar, Graham D

    2008-03-01

    To estimate the relative contributions of woody and herbaceous vegetation to savanna productivity, we measured the 13C/12C isotopic ratios of leaves from trees, shrubs, grasses and the surface soil carbon pool for 22 savannas in Australia, Brazil and Ghana covering the full savanna spectrum ranging from almost pure grassland to closed woodlands on all three continents. All trees and shrubs sampled were of the C3 pathway and all grasses of the C4 pathway with the exception of Echinolaena inflexa (Poir.) Chase, a common C3 grass of the Brazilian cerrado. By comparing the carbon isotopic compositions of the plant and carbon pools, a simple model relating soil delta 13C to the relative abundances of trees + shrubs (woody plants) and grasses was developed. The model suggests that the relative proportions of a savanna ecosystem's total foliar projected cover attributable to grasses versus woody plants is a simple and reliable index of the relative contributions of grasses and woody plants to savanna net productivity. Model calibrations against woody tree canopy cover made it possible to estimate the proportion of savanna productivity in the major regions of the world attributable to trees + shrubs and grasses from ground-based observational maps of savanna woodiness. Overall, it was estimated that 59% of the net primary productivity (Np) of tropical savannas is attributable to C4 grasses, but that this proportion varies significantly within and between regions. The C4 grasses make their greatest relative contribution to savanna Np in the Neotropics, whereas in African regions, a greater proportion of savanna Np is attributable to woody plants. The relative contribution of C4 grasses in Australian savannas is intermediate between those in the Neotropics and Africa. These differences can be broadly ascribed to large scale differences in soil fertility and rainfall. PMID:18171668

  17. Pyromineralization of soil phosphorus in savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hartshorn, A.; Coetsee, C.; Chadwick, O.

    2007-12-01

    The weathering of rock supplies phosphorus (P) to ecosystems. Phosphorus limitation of ecosystems can be severe in thicker or older soils, where soil production rates from rock and therefore release of P is slower than in thinner or younger soils. Limitation may be especially pronounced in drier ecosystems that are experiencing increasing N deposition. Our savanna field sites in Kruger National Park, South Africa meet all three of these criteria: soil residence times average 250 ky, the climate is semiarid, and N inputs average 20 kg ha-1 y-1. Not all soil P is plant-available, and because our field sites experience occasional fires, our objectives were to quantify the importance of pyromineralization of soil P, the transfer by fire of soil P from recalcitrant to labile (HCO3- extractable) pools. We quantified these soil P pools using a modified Hedley scheme (an array of chemical extractants). Three sets of soils were fractionated: 1. soils from 10 profiles along an intensively studied hillslope, bracketing a pronounced structural and functional ecotone; 2. surface soils from these 10 profiles after a simulated burn; and 3. surface soils from the Shabeni Experimental Plots, where 4 fire treatments have been maintained for decades: no fire, annual fire in the dry season, triennial fire in the dry season, and triennial fire in the wet season. Total P for hillslope soils ranged from 45 to 135 g m-2 (to 50 cm depth) and from 8 to 15 g m-2 (to 5 cm depth). Total soil P was lowest in midslope soils, where upslope sandy soils dominated by broad-leafed vegetation shift abruptly to downslope clayey soils with fine-leafed vegetation. Simulated fire for the hillslope soils reduced total P slightly, but boosted labile P by 1.7 g m-2 (to 5 cm), representing 17% of total P in the surface 5 cm. This pyromineralization effect was not uniform across the hillslope: downslope soils gained about 50% more labile P than midslope soils with simulated burning. With a fire return interval

  18. Seasonal variation in the relative dominance of herbivore guilds in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Davies, Andrew B; van Rensburg, Berndt J; Robertson, Mark P; Levick, Shaun R; Asner, Gregory P; Parr, Catherine L

    2016-06-01

    African savannas are highly seasonal with a diverse array of both mammalian and invertebrate herbivores, yet herbivory studies have focused almost exclusively on mammals. We conducted a 2-yr exclosure experiment in South Africa's Kruger National Park to measure the relative impact of these two groups of herbivores on grass removal at both highly productive patches (termite mounds) and in the less productive savanna matrix. Invertebrate and mammalian herbivory was greater on termite mounds, but the relative importance of each group changed over time. Mammalian offtake was higher than invertebrates in the dry season, but can be eclipsed by invertebrates during the wet season when this group is more active. Our results demonstrate that invertebrates play a substantial role in savanna herbivory and should not be disregarded in attempts to understand the impacts of herbivory on ecosystems.

  19. Seasonal variation in the relative dominance of herbivore guilds in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Davies, Andrew B; van Rensburg, Berndt J; Robertson, Mark P; Levick, Shaun R; Asner, Gregory P; Parr, Catherine L

    2016-06-01

    African savannas are highly seasonal with a diverse array of both mammalian and invertebrate herbivores, yet herbivory studies have focused almost exclusively on mammals. We conducted a 2-yr exclosure experiment in South Africa's Kruger National Park to measure the relative impact of these two groups of herbivores on grass removal at both highly productive patches (termite mounds) and in the less productive savanna matrix. Invertebrate and mammalian herbivory was greater on termite mounds, but the relative importance of each group changed over time. Mammalian offtake was higher than invertebrates in the dry season, but can be eclipsed by invertebrates during the wet season when this group is more active. Our results demonstrate that invertebrates play a substantial role in savanna herbivory and should not be disregarded in attempts to understand the impacts of herbivory on ecosystems. PMID:27459791

  20. Restoring a disappearing ecosystem: the Longleaf Pine Savanna.

    SciTech Connect

    Harrington, Timothy B.; Miller, Karl V.; Park, Noreen

    2013-05-01

    Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannas of the southeastern United States contain some of the worlds most diverse plant communities, along with a unique complement of wildlife. Their traditionally open canopy structure and rich understory of grasses and herbs were critical to their vigor. However, a long history of land-use practices such as logging, farming, and fire exclusion have reduced this once-widespread ecosystem to only 3 percent of its original range. At six longleaf pine plantations in South Carolina, Tim Harrington with the Pacific Northwest Research Station and collaborators with the Southern Research Station used various treatments (including prescribed burns, tree thinning, and herbicide applications) to alter the forest structure and tracked how successful each one was in advancing savanna restoration over a 14-year period. They found that typical planting densities for wood production in plantations create dense understory shade that excludes many native herbaceous species important to savannas and associated wildlife. The scientists found that although tree thinning alone did not result in sustained gains, a combination of controlled burning, thinning, and herbicide treatments to reduce woody plants was an effective strategy for recovering the savanna ecosystem. The scientists also found that these efforts must be repeated periodically for enduring benefits.

  1. North African savanna fires and atmospheric carbon dioxide

    SciTech Connect

    Iacobellis, S.F.; Frouni, Razafimpaniolo, H.

    1994-04-20

    The effect of north African savanna fires on atmospheric CO{sub 2} is investigated using a tracer transport model. The model uses winds from operational numerical weather prediction analyses and provides CO{sub 2} concentrations as a function of space and time. After a spin-up period of several years, biomass-burning sources are added, and model experiments are run for an additional year, utilizing various estimates of CO{sub 2} sources. The various model experiments show that biomass burning in the north African savannas significantly affects CO{sub 2} concentrations in South America. The effect is more pronounced during the period from January through March, when biomass burning in South America is almost nonexistent. During this period, atmospheric CO{sub 2} concentrations in parts of South America typically may increase by 0.5 to 0.75 ppm at 970 mbar, the average pressure of the lowest model layer. These figures are above the probable uncertainty level, as model runs with biomass-burning sources estimated from independent studies using distinct data sets and techniques indicate. From May through September, when severe biomass burning occurs in South America, the effect of north African savanna fires over South America has become generally small at 970 mbar, but north of the equator it may be of the same magnitude or larger than the effect of South American fires. The CO{sub 2} concentration increase in the extreme northern and southern portions of South America, however, is mostly due to southern African fires, whose effect may be 2-3 times larger than the effect of South American fires at 970 mbar. Even in the central part of the continent, where local biomass-burning emissions are maximum, southern African fires contribute to at least 15% of the CO{sub 2} concentration increase at 970 mbar. 20 refs., 15 figs., 1 tab.

  2. Landscape-scale effects of herbivores on treefall in African savannas.

    PubMed

    Asner, Gregory P; Levick, Shaun R

    2012-11-01

    Herbivores cause treefalls in African savannas, but rates are unknown at large scales required to forecast changes in biodiversity and ecosystem processes. We combined landscape-scale herbivore exclosures with repeat airborne Light Detection and Ranging of 58 429 trees in Kruger National Park, South Africa, to assess sources of savanna treefall across nested gradients of climate, topography, and soil fertility. Elephants were revealed as the primary agent of treefall across widely varying savanna conditions, and a large-scale 'elephant trap' predominantly removes maturing savanna trees in the 5-9 m height range. Treefall rates averaged 6 times higher in areas accessible to elephants, but proportionally more treefall occurred on high-nutrient basalts and in lowland catena areas. These patterns were superimposed on a climate-mediated regime of increasing treefall with precipitation in the absence of herbivores. These landscape-scale patterns reveal environmental controls underpinning herbivore-mediated tree turnover, highlighting the need for context-dependent science and management.

  3. Fires in tropical savanna ecosystems -- The need for mitigation?

    SciTech Connect

    Ward, D.E.; Shea, R.; Hao, W.M.

    1994-12-31

    Fires in savanna ecosystems are usually considered to be ``natural`` in that the ecosystems where fire is present generally have evolved in the presence of fire. In the past several decades, with large increases in population in most of the tropical countries, there has been an accelerated demand for fuel wood, charcoal, building materials, and agriculture. The overall effect has been to reduce the above-ground biomass and to cycle the carbon more frequently. The authors discuss the mitigation strategies for reducing the release of carbon from charcoal production and shifting cultivation.

  4. Large-scale impacts of herbivores on the structural diversity of African savannas.

    PubMed

    Asner, Gregory P; Levick, Shaun R; Kennedy-Bowdoin, Ty; Knapp, David E; Emerson, Ruth; Jacobson, James; Colgan, Matthew S; Martin, Roberta E

    2009-03-24

    African savannas are undergoing management intensification, and decision makers are increasingly challenged to balance the needs of large herbivore populations with the maintenance of vegetation and ecosystem diversity. Ensuring the sustainability of Africa's natural protected areas requires information on the efficacy of management decisions at large spatial scales, but often neither experimental treatments nor large-scale responses are available for analysis. Using a new airborne remote sensing system, we mapped the three-dimensional (3-D) structure of vegetation at a spatial resolution of 56 cm throughout 1640 ha of savanna after 6-, 22-, 35-, and 41-year exclusions of herbivores, as well as in unprotected areas, across Kruger National Park in South Africa. Areas in which herbivores were excluded over the short term (6 years) contained 38%-80% less bare ground compared with those that were exposed to mammalian herbivory. In the longer-term (> 22 years), the 3-D structure of woody vegetation differed significantly between protected and accessible landscapes, with up to 11-fold greater woody canopy cover in the areas without herbivores. Our maps revealed 2 scales of ecosystem response to herbivore consumption, one broadly mediated by geologic substrate and the other mediated by hillslope-scale variation in soil nutrient availability and moisture conditions. Our results are the first to quantitatively illustrate the extent to which herbivores can affect the 3-D structural diversity of vegetation across large savanna landscapes.

  5. Carbon balance of grazed savanna grassland ecosystem in Welgegund, South Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Räsänen, Matti; Aurela, Mika; Vakkari, Ville; Beukes, Paul; Van Zyl, Pieter; Josipovic, Micky; Venter, Andrew; Jaars, Kerneels; Siebert, Stefan; Laurila, Tuomas; Tuovinen, Juha-Pekka; Rinne, Janne; Laakso, Lauri

    2016-04-01

    Tropical savannas and grasslands are estimated to contribute significantly to the global primary production of all terrestrial vegetation. It is suggested that semi-arid ecosystems dominate the inter-annual variation of the global land carbon sink. Most of the previous carbon flux measurements of African savannas have focused on the areas around national parks or nature reserves. However, large parts of African savannas and grasslands are used for agriculture or cattle grazing and there is a lack of measurements from these areas. In this study, we present carbon dioxide fluxes measured with the eddy covariance method for three years at a grazed savanna grassland in South Africa. The tree cover around the Welgegund measurement site (26°34'10"S, 26°56'21"E, 1480 m.a.s.l.; www.welgegund.org) was around 15% and it was grazed by cattle and sheep. Weekly monitoring of the measurements produced high quality flux measurements and only 33% of the measured flux values were missing or discarded due to e.g. too small turbulence. The inter-annual variation of yearly carbon balance was high. The carbon balance for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 were -73, 82 and 167 gC m-2 y-1, respectively. The yearly variation in GPP and respiration followed the changes in precipitation, whereas the yearly variation in NEE was not explained by the changes in annual precipitation, the length of rainy season or peak NDVI. However, the number of days when soil was wet, seems to relate to the annual sum of NEE.

  6. Source compositions of trace gases released during African savanna fires

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cofer, Wesley R.; Levine, Joel S.; Winstead, Edward L.; Cahoon, Donald R.; Sebacher, Daniel I.; Pinto, Joseph P.; Stocks, Brian J.

    1996-10-01

    Measurements of biomass burn-produced trace gases were made using low-altitude helicopter penetrations of smoke plumes above burning African savanna during the Southern African Fire-Atmosphere Research Initiative (SAFARI-92). Smoke from two large prescribed fires conducted in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, on September 18 and 24, 1992, was sampled at altitudes ranging from 20 to 100 m above ground level during flaming and smoldering phases of combustion. Carbon dioxide (CO2) normalized emission ratios (dX/dCO2 (vol/vol), where X denotes a trace gas) for carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), total nonmethane hydrocarbons (TNMHC), and nitrous oxide (N2O) were determined. The emission ratios were used in conjunction with fuel consumption estimates to calculate emission factors (grams of product per gram of fuel) for these gases. Emission factors for CO2, CO, CH4, and N2O of 1.61, 0.055, 0.003, and 1.6 × 10-4 g/g fuel, respectively, were determined. The fires advanced rapidly through the savanna (primarily grass) fuels with minimal amounts of smoldering combustion. The relatively low emission ratios determined for these fires indicated excellent combustion efficiency. About 93% of the carbon released into the atmosphere as a result of these fires was in the form of CO2.

  7. Micrometeorological and leaf-level measurements of isoprene emissions from a southern African savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harley, Peter; Otter, Luanne; Guenther, Alex; Greenberg, James

    2003-07-01

    In February 2001, as part of the Southern African Regional Science Initiative (SAFARI 2000), isoprene fluxes were measured for 8 days using the relaxed eddy accumulation technique from a 21-m tower in a Combretum-Acacia savanna in Kruger National Park, 13 km from Skukuza, RSA. Despite warm and sunny conditions, midday isoprene concentrations were low, averaging 0.39 nL/L. Fluxes of isoprene increased through the morning hours, with midday fluxes averaging 0.34 mg m-2 h-1 and a maximum measured flux of approximately 1.0 mg m-2 h-1. Consistent with these low fluxes, leaf enclosure measurements of woody species within the tower footprint determined that only one isoprene-emitting species, Acacia nigrescens, was present in significant numbers, comprising less than 10% of the woody biomass. Combining enclosure data with species composition and leaf area index data from the site, we estimated that the isoprene emission capacity of the vegetation within the vicinity of the tower was very low, approximately 0.47 mg m-2 h-1, and patchy. Under these circumstances, low and variable fluxes are expected. Additional leaf enclosure measurements, for a total of 121 species, were made at other locations, and approximately 35% of the species was found to emit significant amounts of isoprene. Important isoprene emitting plant families included Caesalpinaceae, Mimosaceae, Papilionaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Moraceae, and Myrtaceae. Twelve members of the important savanna genus Acacia were measured, of which five species, all belonging in Subgenus Aculeiferum, Section Aculeiferum, were found to emit significant amounts of isoprene. In contrast, the plant family, Combretaceae, dominant in many savanna ecosystems, was found to contain no species which emit isoprene.

  8. CO2 fluxes in converting a tropical savanna to a managed ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bristow, Mila; Hutley, Lindsay; Beringer, Jason; Livesley, Stephen; Arndt, Stefan

    2013-04-01

    emissions to the atmosphere, totalling 31.4 t C ha-1 (or 115.4 t CO2-e ha-1). The overall difference between uncleared and cleared savanna sites was equivalent to 12 years of carbon sequestration in this ecosystem. Our study clearly demonstrates that the conversion of savanna to agriculture could lead to much greater C losses from the ecosystem that previously assumed. If implemented the clearing of tropical savannas in Australia will come at a large C cost that will have major implications for the national greenhouse gas budget.

  9. Climate and the landscape of fear in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Riginos, Corinna

    2015-01-01

    Herbivores frequently have to make trade-offs between two basic needs: the need to acquire forage and the need to avoid predation. One manifestation of this trade-off is the 'landscape of fear' phenomenon - wherein herbivores avoid areas of high perceived predation risk even if forage is abundant or of high quality in those areas. Although this phenomenon is well established among invertebrates, its applicability to terrestrial large herbivores remains debated, in part because experimental evidence is scarce. This study was designed to (i) experimentally test the effects of tree density - a key landscape feature associated with predation risk for African ungulates - on herbivore habitat use and (ii) establish whether habitat use patterns could be explained by trade-offs between foraging opportunities and predation risk avoidance. In a Kenyan savanna system, replicate plots dominated by the tree Acacia drepanolobium were cleared, thinned or left intact. Ungulate responses were measured over four years, which included years of moderate rainfall as well as a severe drought. Under average rainfall conditions, most herbivores (primarily plains zebra, Grant's gazelle and hartebeest) favoured sites with fewer trees and higher visibility - regardless of grass production - while elephants (too large to be vulnerable to predation) favoured sites with many trees. During the drought, however, herbivores favoured sites that had high grass biomass, but not high visibility. Thus, during the drought, herbivores sought areas where food was more abundant, despite probable higher risk of predation. These results illustrate that the 'landscape of fear', and the associated interactions between top-down and bottom-up effects, is not static, but rather shifts markedly under different conditions. Climate thus has the potential to alter the strength and spatial dynamics of behaviourally mediated cascades in large herbivore systems.

  10. Climate and the landscape of fear in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Riginos, Corinna

    2015-01-01

    Herbivores frequently have to make trade-offs between two basic needs: the need to acquire forage and the need to avoid predation. One manifestation of this trade-off is the 'landscape of fear' phenomenon - wherein herbivores avoid areas of high perceived predation risk even if forage is abundant or of high quality in those areas. Although this phenomenon is well established among invertebrates, its applicability to terrestrial large herbivores remains debated, in part because experimental evidence is scarce. This study was designed to (i) experimentally test the effects of tree density - a key landscape feature associated with predation risk for African ungulates - on herbivore habitat use and (ii) establish whether habitat use patterns could be explained by trade-offs between foraging opportunities and predation risk avoidance. In a Kenyan savanna system, replicate plots dominated by the tree Acacia drepanolobium were cleared, thinned or left intact. Ungulate responses were measured over four years, which included years of moderate rainfall as well as a severe drought. Under average rainfall conditions, most herbivores (primarily plains zebra, Grant's gazelle and hartebeest) favoured sites with fewer trees and higher visibility - regardless of grass production - while elephants (too large to be vulnerable to predation) favoured sites with many trees. During the drought, however, herbivores favoured sites that had high grass biomass, but not high visibility. Thus, during the drought, herbivores sought areas where food was more abundant, despite probable higher risk of predation. These results illustrate that the 'landscape of fear', and the associated interactions between top-down and bottom-up effects, is not static, but rather shifts markedly under different conditions. Climate thus has the potential to alter the strength and spatial dynamics of behaviourally mediated cascades in large herbivore systems. PMID:24942250

  11. Spiny plants, mammal browsers, and the origin of African savannas.

    PubMed

    Charles-Dominique, Tristan; Davies, T Jonathan; Hempson, Gareth P; Bezeng, Bezeng S; Daru, Barnabas H; Kabongo, Ronny M; Maurin, Olivier; Muasya, A Muthama; van der Bank, Michelle; Bond, William J

    2016-09-20

    Savannas first began to spread across Africa during the Miocene. A major hypothesis for explaining this vegetation change is the increase in C4 grasses, promoting fire. We investigated whether mammals could also have contributed to savanna expansion by using spinescence as a marker of mammal herbivory. Looking at the present distribution of 1,852 tree species, we established that spinescence is mainly associated with two functional types of mammals: large browsers and medium-sized mixed feeders. Using a dated phylogeny for the same tree species, we found that spinescence evolved at least 55 times. The diversification of spiny plants occurred long after the evolution of Afrotherian proboscideans and hyracoids. However, it is remarkably congruent with diversification of bovids, the lineage including the antelope that predominantly browse these plants today. Our findings suggest that herbivore-adapted savannas evolved several million years before fire-maintained savannas and probably, in different environmental conditions. Spiny savannas with abundant mammal herbivores occur in drier climates and on nutrient-rich soils, whereas fire-maintained savannas occur in wetter climates on nutrient-poor soils.

  12. Spiny plants, mammal browsers, and the origin of African savannas.

    PubMed

    Charles-Dominique, Tristan; Davies, T Jonathan; Hempson, Gareth P; Bezeng, Bezeng S; Daru, Barnabas H; Kabongo, Ronny M; Maurin, Olivier; Muasya, A Muthama; van der Bank, Michelle; Bond, William J

    2016-09-20

    Savannas first began to spread across Africa during the Miocene. A major hypothesis for explaining this vegetation change is the increase in C4 grasses, promoting fire. We investigated whether mammals could also have contributed to savanna expansion by using spinescence as a marker of mammal herbivory. Looking at the present distribution of 1,852 tree species, we established that spinescence is mainly associated with two functional types of mammals: large browsers and medium-sized mixed feeders. Using a dated phylogeny for the same tree species, we found that spinescence evolved at least 55 times. The diversification of spiny plants occurred long after the evolution of Afrotherian proboscideans and hyracoids. However, it is remarkably congruent with diversification of bovids, the lineage including the antelope that predominantly browse these plants today. Our findings suggest that herbivore-adapted savannas evolved several million years before fire-maintained savannas and probably, in different environmental conditions. Spiny savannas with abundant mammal herbivores occur in drier climates and on nutrient-rich soils, whereas fire-maintained savannas occur in wetter climates on nutrient-poor soils. PMID:27601649

  13. Distinguishing forest and savanna African elephants using short nuclear DNA sequences.

    PubMed

    Ishida, Yasuko; Demeke, Yirmed; van Coeverden de Groot, Peter J; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Leggett, Keith E A; Fox, Virginia E; Roca, Alfred L

    2011-01-01

    A more complete description of African elephant phylogeography would require a method that distinguishes forest and savanna elephants using DNA from low-quality samples. Although mitochondrial DNA is often the marker of choice for species identification, the unusual cytonuclear patterns in African elephants make nuclear markers more reliable. We therefore designed and utilized genetic markers for short nuclear DNA regions that contain fixed nucleotide differences between forest and savanna elephants. We used M13 forward and reverse sequences to increase the total length of PCR amplicons and to improve the quality of sequences for the target DNA. We successfully sequenced fragments of nuclear genes from dung samples of known savanna and forest elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Namibia. Elephants at previously unexamined locations were found to have nucleotide character states consistent with their status as savanna or forest elephants. Using these and results from previous studies, we estimated that the short-amplicon nuclear markers could distinguish forest from savanna African elephants with more than 99% accuracy. Nuclear genotyping of museum, dung, or ivory samples will provide better-informed conservation management of Africa's elephants.

  14. An overview of nitrogen cycling in a semiarid savanna: some implications for management and conservation in a large African park.

    PubMed

    Coetsee, Corli; Jacobs, Shayne; Govender, Navashni

    2012-02-01

    Nitrogen (N) is a major control on primary productivity and hence on the productivity and diversity of secondary producers and consumers. As such, ecosystem structure and function cannot be understood without a comprehensive understanding of N cycling and dynamics. This overview describes the factors that govern N distribution and dynamics and the consequences that variable N dynamics have for structure, function and thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) for management of a semiarid southern African savanna. We focus on the Kruger National Park (KNP), a relatively intact savanna, noted for its wide array of animal and plant species and a prized tourist destination. KNP's large size ensures integrity of most ecosystem processes and much can be learned about drivers of ecosystem structure and function using this park as a baseline. Our overview shows that large scale variability in substrates exists, but do not necessarily have predictable consequences for N cycling. The impact of major drivers such as fire is complex; at a landscape scale little differences in stocks and cycling were found, though at a smaller scale changes in woody cover can lead to concomitant changes in total N. Contrasting impacts of browsers and grazers on N turnover has been recorded. Due to the complexity of this ecosystem, we conclude that it will be complicated to draw up TPCs for most transformations and pools involved with the N cycle. However, we highlight in which cases the development of TPCs will be possible. PMID:22057696

  15. An Overview of Nitrogen Cycling in a Semiarid Savanna: Some Implications for Management and Conservation in a Large African Park

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Coetsee, Corli; Jacobs, Shayne; Govender, Navashni

    2012-02-01

    Nitrogen (N) is a major control on primary productivity and hence on the productivity and diversity of secondary producers and consumers. As such, ecosystem structure and function cannot be understood without a comprehensive understanding of N cycling and dynamics. This overview describes the factors that govern N distribution and dynamics and the consequences that variable N dynamics have for structure, function and thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) for management of a semiarid southern African savanna. We focus on the Kruger National Park (KNP), a relatively intact savanna, noted for its wide array of animal and plant species and a prized tourist destination. KNP's large size ensures integrity of most ecosystem processes and much can be learned about drivers of ecosystem structure and function using this park as a baseline. Our overview shows that large scale variability in substrates exists, but do not necessarily have predictable consequences for N cycling. The impact of major drivers such as fire is complex; at a landscape scale little differences in stocks and cycling were found, though at a smaller scale changes in woody cover can lead to concomitant changes in total N. Contrasting impacts of browsers and grazers on N turnover has been recorded. Due to the complexity of this ecosystem, we conclude that it will be complicated to draw up TPCs for most transformations and pools involved with the N cycle. However, we highlight in which cases the development of TPCs will be possible.

  16. An overview of nitrogen cycling in a semiarid savanna: some implications for management and conservation in a large African park.

    PubMed

    Coetsee, Corli; Jacobs, Shayne; Govender, Navashni

    2012-02-01

    Nitrogen (N) is a major control on primary productivity and hence on the productivity and diversity of secondary producers and consumers. As such, ecosystem structure and function cannot be understood without a comprehensive understanding of N cycling and dynamics. This overview describes the factors that govern N distribution and dynamics and the consequences that variable N dynamics have for structure, function and thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) for management of a semiarid southern African savanna. We focus on the Kruger National Park (KNP), a relatively intact savanna, noted for its wide array of animal and plant species and a prized tourist destination. KNP's large size ensures integrity of most ecosystem processes and much can be learned about drivers of ecosystem structure and function using this park as a baseline. Our overview shows that large scale variability in substrates exists, but do not necessarily have predictable consequences for N cycling. The impact of major drivers such as fire is complex; at a landscape scale little differences in stocks and cycling were found, though at a smaller scale changes in woody cover can lead to concomitant changes in total N. Contrasting impacts of browsers and grazers on N turnover has been recorded. Due to the complexity of this ecosystem, we conclude that it will be complicated to draw up TPCs for most transformations and pools involved with the N cycle. However, we highlight in which cases the development of TPCs will be possible.

  17. Uncovering cryptic species diversity of a termite community in a West African savanna.

    PubMed

    Hausberger, Barbara; Kimpel, Dorothea; van Neer, Abbo; Korb, Judith

    2011-12-01

    To uncover the termite species diversity of a natural African savanna ecosystem, we combined morphological analyses and sequencing of three gene fragments (cytochrome oxidase I, cytochrome oxidase II and 28SrDNA, total length about 2450 bp) to infer putative species from phylogenetic trees. We identified 18 putative species clusters with high support values and which we retrieved consistently. Samples from two genera (Ancistrotermes and Microcerotermes) were excluded from the mitochondrial phylogenetic analyses as they might represent nuclear mitochondrial sequences (NUMTs). In total, our data suggest a species richness of at least 20 species, all but one belonging to the Termitidae (higher termites), and among them the fungus-growing Macrotermitinae were most prevalent with at least nine putative species. Within the fungus-growers the most species-rich genus was Microtermes and its four putative species were all cryptic species. Their abundance in the samples suggests that they play an important ecological role which is completely unstudied also due to the lack of reliable identification means. Our study shows that morphological traits are unreliable means of species identification for several termite taxa. Yet reliable and consistent identification is necessary for studying the functional role of termites in ecosystem and global processes.

  18. Fuel moisture content estimation: a land-surface modelling approach applied to African savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ghent, D.; Spessa, A.; Kaduk, J.; Balzter, H.

    2009-04-01

    Despite the importance of fire to the global climate system, in terms of emissions from biomass burning, ecosystem structure and function, and changes to surface albedo, current land-surface models do not adequately estimate key variables affecting fire ignition and propagation. Fuel moisture content (FMC) is considered one of the most important of these variables (Chuvieco et al., 2004). Biophysical models, with appropriate plant functional type parameterisations, are the most viable option to adequately predict FMC over continental scales at high temporal resolution. However, the complexity of plant-water interactions, and the variability associated with short-term climate changes, means it is one of the most difficult fire variables to quantify and predict. Our work attempts to resolve this issue using a combination of satellite data and biophysical modelling applied to Africa. The approach we take is to represent live FMC as a surface dryness index; expressed as the ratio between the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and land-surface temperature (LST). It has been argued in previous studies (Sandholt et al., 2002; Snyder et al., 2006), that this ratio displays a statistically stronger correlation to FMC than either of the variables, considered separately. In this study, simulated FMC is constrained through the assimilation of remotely sensed LST and NDVI data into the land-surface model JULES (Joint-UK Land Environment Simulator). Previous modelling studies of fire activity in Africa savannas, such as Lehsten et al. (2008), have reported significant levels of uncertainty associated with the simulations. This uncertainty is important because African savannas are among some of the most frequently burnt ecosystems and are a major source of greenhouse trace gases and aerosol emissions (Scholes et al., 1996). Furthermore, regional climate model studies indicate that many parts of the African savannas will experience drier and warmer conditions in future

  19. Evapotranspiration partitioning in a semi-arid African savanna using stable isotopes of water vapor

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Soderberg, K.; Good, S. P.; O'Connor, M.; King, E. G.; Caylor, K. K.

    2012-04-01

    Evapotranspiration (ET) represents a major flux of water out of semi-arid ecosystems. Thus, understanding ET dynamics is central to the study of African savanna health and productivity. At our study site in central Kenya (Mpala Research Centre), we have been using stable isotopes of water vapor to partition ET into its constituent parts of plant transpiration (T) and soil evaporation (E). This effort includes continuous measurement (1 Hz) of δ2H and δ18O in water vapor using a portable water vapor isotope analyzer mounted on a 22.5 m eddy covariance flux tower. The flux tower has been collecting data since early 2010. The isotopic end-member of δET is calculated using a Keeling Plot approach, whereas δT and δE are measured directly via a leaf chamber and tubing buried in the soil, respectively. Here we report on a two recent sets of measurements for partitioning ET in the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE) and a nearby grassland. We combine leaf level measurements of photosynthesis and water use with canopy-scale isotope measurements for ET partitioning. In the KLEE experiment we compare ET partitioning in a 4 ha plot that has only seen cattle grazing for the past 15 years with an adjacent plot that has undergone grazing by both cattle and wild herbivores (antelope, elephants, giraffe). These results are compared with a detailed study of ET in an artificially watered grassland.

  20. Effects of fire on woody vegetation structure in African savanna.

    PubMed

    Smit, Izak P J; Asner, Gregory P; Govender, Navashni; Kennedy-Bowdoin, Ty; Knapp, David E; Jacobson, James

    2010-10-01

    Despite the importance of fire in shaping savannas, it remains poorly understood how the frequency, seasonality, and intensity of fire interact to influence woody vegetation structure, which is a key determinant of savanna biodiversity. We provide a comprehensive analysis of vertical and horizontal woody vegetation structure across one of the oldest savanna fire experiments, using new airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology. We developed and compared high-resolution woody vegetation height surfaces for a series of large experimental burn plots in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. These 7-ha plots (total area approximately 1500 ha) have been subjected to fire in different seasons and at different frequencies, as well as no-burn areas, for 54 years. Long-term exposure to fire caused a reduction in woody vegetation up to the 5.0-7.5 m height class, although most reduction was observed up to 4 m. Average fire intensity was positively correlated with changes in woody vegetation structure. More frequent fires reduced woody vegetation cover more than less frequent fires, and dry-season fires reduced woody vegetation more than wet-season fires. Spring fires from the late dry season reduced woody vegetation cover the most, and summer fires from the wet season reduced it the least. Fire had a large effect on structure in the densely wooded granitic landscapes as compared to the more open basaltic landscapes, although proportionally, the woody vegetation was more reduced in the drier than in the wetter landscapes. We show that fire frequency and fire season influence patterns of vegetation three-dimensional structure, which may have cascading consequences for biodiversity. Managers of savannas can therefore use fire frequency and season in concert to achieve specific vegetation structural objectives.

  1. Effects of fire on woody vegetation structure in African savanna.

    PubMed

    Smit, Izak P J; Asner, Gregory P; Govender, Navashni; Kennedy-Bowdoin, Ty; Knapp, David E; Jacobson, James

    2010-10-01

    Despite the importance of fire in shaping savannas, it remains poorly understood how the frequency, seasonality, and intensity of fire interact to influence woody vegetation structure, which is a key determinant of savanna biodiversity. We provide a comprehensive analysis of vertical and horizontal woody vegetation structure across one of the oldest savanna fire experiments, using new airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology. We developed and compared high-resolution woody vegetation height surfaces for a series of large experimental burn plots in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. These 7-ha plots (total area approximately 1500 ha) have been subjected to fire in different seasons and at different frequencies, as well as no-burn areas, for 54 years. Long-term exposure to fire caused a reduction in woody vegetation up to the 5.0-7.5 m height class, although most reduction was observed up to 4 m. Average fire intensity was positively correlated with changes in woody vegetation structure. More frequent fires reduced woody vegetation cover more than less frequent fires, and dry-season fires reduced woody vegetation more than wet-season fires. Spring fires from the late dry season reduced woody vegetation cover the most, and summer fires from the wet season reduced it the least. Fire had a large effect on structure in the densely wooded granitic landscapes as compared to the more open basaltic landscapes, although proportionally, the woody vegetation was more reduced in the drier than in the wetter landscapes. We show that fire frequency and fire season influence patterns of vegetation three-dimensional structure, which may have cascading consequences for biodiversity. Managers of savannas can therefore use fire frequency and season in concert to achieve specific vegetation structural objectives. PMID:21049875

  2. African Savanna-Forest Boundary Dynamics: A 20-Year Study.

    PubMed

    Cuni-Sanchez, Aida; White, Lee J T; Calders, Kim; Jeffery, Kathryn J; Abernethy, Katharine; Burt, Andrew; Disney, Mathias; Gilpin, Martin; Gomez-Dans, Jose L; Lewis, Simon L

    2016-01-01

    Recent studies show widespread encroachment of forest into savannas with important consequences for the global carbon cycle and land-atmosphere interactions. However, little research has focused on in situ measurements of the successional sequence of savanna to forest in Africa. Using long-term inventory plots we quantify changes in vegetation structure, above-ground biomass (AGB) and biodiversity of trees ≥10 cm diameter over 20 years for five vegetation types: savanna; colonising forest (F1), monodominant Okoume forest (F2); young Marantaceae forest (F3); and mixed Marantaceae forest (F4) in Lopé National Park, central Gabon, plus novel 3D terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) measurements to assess forest structure differences. Over 20 years no plot changed to a new stage in the putative succession, but F1 forests strongly moved towards the structure, AGB and diversity of F2 forests. Overall, savanna plots showed no detectable change in structure, AGB or diversity using this method, with zero trees ≥10 cm diameter in 1993 and 2013. F1 and F2 forests increased in AGB, mainly as a result of adding recruited stems (F1) and increased Basal Area (F2), whereas F3 and F4 forests did not change substantially in structure, AGB or diversity. Critically, the stability of the F3 stage implies that this stage may be maintained for long periods. Soil carbon was low, and did not show a successional gradient as for AGB and diversity. TLS vertical plant profiles showed distinctive differences amongst the vegetation types, indicating that this technique can improve ecological understanding. We highlight two points: (i) as forest colonises, changes in biodiversity are much slower than changes in forest structure or AGB; and (ii) all forest types store substantial quantities of carbon. Multi-decadal monitoring is likely to be required to assess the speed of transition between vegetation types. PMID:27336632

  3. African Savanna-Forest Boundary Dynamics: A 20-Year Study

    PubMed Central

    Cuni-Sanchez, Aida; White, Lee J. T.; Calders, Kim; Jeffery, Kathryn J.; Abernethy, Katharine; Burt, Andrew; Disney, Mathias; Gilpin, Martin; Gomez-Dans, Jose L.; Lewis, Simon L.

    2016-01-01

    Recent studies show widespread encroachment of forest into savannas with important consequences for the global carbon cycle and land-atmosphere interactions. However, little research has focused on in situ measurements of the successional sequence of savanna to forest in Africa. Using long-term inventory plots we quantify changes in vegetation structure, above-ground biomass (AGB) and biodiversity of trees ≥10 cm diameter over 20 years for five vegetation types: savanna; colonising forest (F1), monodominant Okoume forest (F2); young Marantaceae forest (F3); and mixed Marantaceae forest (F4) in Lopé National Park, central Gabon, plus novel 3D terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) measurements to assess forest structure differences. Over 20 years no plot changed to a new stage in the putative succession, but F1 forests strongly moved towards the structure, AGB and diversity of F2 forests. Overall, savanna plots showed no detectable change in structure, AGB or diversity using this method, with zero trees ≥10 cm diameter in 1993 and 2013. F1 and F2 forests increased in AGB, mainly as a result of adding recruited stems (F1) and increased Basal Area (F2), whereas F3 and F4 forests did not change substantially in structure, AGB or diversity. Critically, the stability of the F3 stage implies that this stage may be maintained for long periods. Soil carbon was low, and did not show a successional gradient as for AGB and diversity. TLS vertical plant profiles showed distinctive differences amongst the vegetation types, indicating that this technique can improve ecological understanding. We highlight two points: (i) as forest colonises, changes in biodiversity are much slower than changes in forest structure or AGB; and (ii) all forest types store substantial quantities of carbon. Multi-decadal monitoring is likely to be required to assess the speed of transition between vegetation types. PMID:27336632

  4. African Savanna-Forest Boundary Dynamics: A 20-Year Study.

    PubMed

    Cuni-Sanchez, Aida; White, Lee J T; Calders, Kim; Jeffery, Kathryn J; Abernethy, Katharine; Burt, Andrew; Disney, Mathias; Gilpin, Martin; Gomez-Dans, Jose L; Lewis, Simon L

    2016-01-01

    Recent studies show widespread encroachment of forest into savannas with important consequences for the global carbon cycle and land-atmosphere interactions. However, little research has focused on in situ measurements of the successional sequence of savanna to forest in Africa. Using long-term inventory plots we quantify changes in vegetation structure, above-ground biomass (AGB) and biodiversity of trees ≥10 cm diameter over 20 years for five vegetation types: savanna; colonising forest (F1), monodominant Okoume forest (F2); young Marantaceae forest (F3); and mixed Marantaceae forest (F4) in Lopé National Park, central Gabon, plus novel 3D terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) measurements to assess forest structure differences. Over 20 years no plot changed to a new stage in the putative succession, but F1 forests strongly moved towards the structure, AGB and diversity of F2 forests. Overall, savanna plots showed no detectable change in structure, AGB or diversity using this method, with zero trees ≥10 cm diameter in 1993 and 2013. F1 and F2 forests increased in AGB, mainly as a result of adding recruited stems (F1) and increased Basal Area (F2), whereas F3 and F4 forests did not change substantially in structure, AGB or diversity. Critically, the stability of the F3 stage implies that this stage may be maintained for long periods. Soil carbon was low, and did not show a successional gradient as for AGB and diversity. TLS vertical plant profiles showed distinctive differences amongst the vegetation types, indicating that this technique can improve ecological understanding. We highlight two points: (i) as forest colonises, changes in biodiversity are much slower than changes in forest structure or AGB; and (ii) all forest types store substantial quantities of carbon. Multi-decadal monitoring is likely to be required to assess the speed of transition between vegetation types.

  5. Plant-soil feedback in East-African savanna trees.

    PubMed

    Rutten, Gemma; Prati, Daniel; Hemp, Andreas; Fischer, Markus

    2016-02-01

    Research in savannas has focused on tree-grass interactions, whereas tree species coexistence received little attention. A leading hypothesis to explain tree coexistence is the Janzen-Connell model, which proposes an accumulation of host-specific enemies, e.g., soil organisms. While it has been shown in several non-savanna case studies that seedlings dispersed away from the mother perform better than seedlings that stay close (home-away effect), few studies tested whether foreign seedling species can replace own seedlings under conspecific adults (replacement effect). Some studies additionally tested for negative effects of conspecific biota (conspecific effect) to demonstrate the accumulation of enemies. We tested these effects by reciprocally growing seedlings of four tree species on soil collected beneath adults of all species, with and without applying a soil sterilization treatment. We found negative home-away effects suggesting that dispersal is advantageous and negative replacement effects suggesting species replacement under adults. While negative conspecific effects indicate accumulated enemies, positive heterospecific effects indicate an accumulation of mutualists rather than enemies for some species. We suggest that plant-soil feedbacks may well contribute to tree coexistence in savannas due to both negative conspecific and positive heterospecific feedbacks. PMID:27145605

  6. Plant-soil feedback in East-African savanna trees.

    PubMed

    Rutten, Gemma; Prati, Daniel; Hemp, Andreas; Fischer, Markus

    2016-02-01

    Research in savannas has focused on tree-grass interactions, whereas tree species coexistence received little attention. A leading hypothesis to explain tree coexistence is the Janzen-Connell model, which proposes an accumulation of host-specific enemies, e.g., soil organisms. While it has been shown in several non-savanna case studies that seedlings dispersed away from the mother perform better than seedlings that stay close (home-away effect), few studies tested whether foreign seedling species can replace own seedlings under conspecific adults (replacement effect). Some studies additionally tested for negative effects of conspecific biota (conspecific effect) to demonstrate the accumulation of enemies. We tested these effects by reciprocally growing seedlings of four tree species on soil collected beneath adults of all species, with and without applying a soil sterilization treatment. We found negative home-away effects suggesting that dispersal is advantageous and negative replacement effects suggesting species replacement under adults. While negative conspecific effects indicate accumulated enemies, positive heterospecific effects indicate an accumulation of mutualists rather than enemies for some species. We suggest that plant-soil feedbacks may well contribute to tree coexistence in savannas due to both negative conspecific and positive heterospecific feedbacks.

  7. Western equatorial African forest-savanna mosaics: a legacy of late Holocene climatic change?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ngomanda, A.; Chepstow-Lusty, A.; Makaya, M.; Favier, C.; Schevin, P.; Maley, J.; Fontugne, M.; Oslisly, R.; Jolly, D.

    2009-10-01

    Past vegetation and climate changes reconstructed using two pollen records from Lakes Maridor and Nguène, located in the coastal savannas and inland rainforest of Gabon, respectively, provide new insights into the environmental history of western equatorial African rainforests during the last 4500 cal yr BP. These pollen records indicate that the coastal savannas of western equatorial Africa did not exist during the mid-Holocene and instead the region was covered by evergreen rainforests. From ca. 4000 cal yr BP a progressive decline of inland evergreen rainforest, accompanied by the expansion of semi-deciduous rainforest, occurred synchronously with grassland colonisation in the coastal region of Gabon. The contraction of moist evergreen rainforest and the establishment of coastal savannas in Gabon suggest decreasing humidity from ca. 4000 cal yr BP. The marked reduction in evergreen rainforest and subsequent savanna expansion was followed from 2700 cal yr BP by the colonization of secondary forests dominated by the palm, Elaeis guineensis, and the shrub, Alchornea cordifolia (Euphorbiaceae). A return to wetter climatic conditions from about 1400 cal yr BP led to the renewed spread of evergreen rainforest inland, whereas a forest-savanna mosaic still persists in the coastal region. There is no evidence to suggest that the major environmental changes observed were driven by human impact.

  8. Effect of wildfires on surface reflectance from a savanna ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Poudyal, R.; Gatebe, C. K.; Ichoku, C. M.; Varnai, T.

    2015-12-01

    During an airborne field campaign in South Africa in 2005, NASA's Cloud Absorption Radiometer (CAR) flew aboard South Africa Weather Service, Aerocommander 690A and measured surface bidirectional reflectance-distribution function (BRDF) over savanna comprised mostly of grasses and a few scattered trees. Savannas cover half the surface of Africa, large areas of Australia, South America, and India. . The region that was studied is located in Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, which was heavily affected by the wildfires. The CAR measured surface reflectance along its flight path covering both burned and unburned areas. . In this study, we compared surface reflectance between burnt and un-burnt areas at various wavelengths (340nm, 380nm, 472nm, 682nm, 870nm, 1036nm, 1219nm, 1273nm, and 2205nm) at satellite sub-pixel scales. We found a relative burnt surface reflectance decrease of between 8 and 65% due to fires. These results not only serve to highlight the importance of biomass burning and effects on the energy budgets, but also the need to determine the effects of albedo changes due to fires on soil moisture budget, evapotranspiration, infiltration, and runoff, all of which govern the land-surface component of the water cycle.

  9. Response of carbon fluxes to water relations in a savanna ecosystem in South Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kutsch, W. L.; Hanan, N.; Scholes, R. J.; McHugh, I.; Kubheka, W.; Eckhardt, H.; Williams, C.

    2008-05-01

    The principal mechanisms that connect carbon fluxes with water relations in savanna ecosystems were studied by using eddy covariance in a savanna ecosystem at Kruger National Park, South Africa. Since the annual drought and rewetting cycle is a major factor influencing the function of savanna ecosystems, this work focused on the close inter-connection between water relations and carbon fluxes. Data from a nine-month measuring campaign lasting from the early wet season to the late dry season were used. Total ecosystem respiration showed highest values at the onset of the growing season, a slightly lower plateau during the main part of the growing season and a continuous decrease during the transition towards the dry season. The regulation of canopy conductance was changed in two ways: changes due to phenology during the course of the growing season and short-term acclimation to soil water conditions. The most constant parameter was water use efficiency that was influenced by VPD during the day but the VPD response curve of water usage did change only slightly during the course of the growing season and decreased by about 30% during the transition from wet to dry season. The regulation of canopy conductance and photosynthetic capacity were closely related. This observation meets recent leaf-level findings that stomatal closure triggers down-regulation of Rubisco during drought. Our results may show the effects of these processes on the ecosystem scale.

  10. Response of carbon fluxes to water relations in a savanna ecosystem in South Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kutsch, W. L.; Hanan, N.; Scholes, B.; McHugh, I.; Kubheka, W.; Eckhardt, H.; Williams, C.

    2008-12-01

    The principal mechanisms that connect carbon fluxes with water relations in savanna ecosystems were studied by using eddy covariance method in a savanna ecosystem at Kruger National Park, South Africa. Since the annual drought and rewetting cycle is a major factor influencing the function of savanna ecosystems, this work focused on the close inter-connection between water relations and carbon fluxes. Data from a nine-month measuring campaign lasting from the early wet season to the late dry season were used. Total ecosystem respiration showed highest values at the onset of the growing season, a slightly lower plateau during the main part of the growing season and a continuous decrease during the transition towards the dry season. The regulation of canopy conductance was changed in two ways: changes due to phenology during the course of the growing season and short-term acclimation to soil water conditions. The most constant parameter was water use efficiency that was influenced by VPD during the day but the VPD response curve of water usage did change only slightly during the course of the growing season and decreased by about 30% during the transition from wet to dry season. The regulation of canopy conductance and photosynthetic capacity were closely related. This observation meets recent leaf-level findings that stomatal closure triggers down-regulation of Rubisco during drought. Our results may show the effects of these processes on the ecosystem scale.

  11. Synergistic effects of fire and elephants on arboreal animals in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Robert M; Kimuyu, Duncan M; Sensenig, Ryan L; Palmer, Todd M; Riginos, Corinna; Veblen, Kari E; Young, Truman P

    2015-11-01

    Disturbance is a crucial determinant of animal abundance, distribution and community structure in many ecosystems, but the ways in which multiple disturbance types interact remain poorly understood. The effects of multiple-disturbance interactions can be additive, subadditive or super-additive (synergistic). Synergistic effects in particular can accelerate ecological change; thus, characterizing such synergies, the conditions under which they arise, and how long they persist has been identified as a major goal of ecology. We factorially manipulated two principal sources of disturbance in African savannas, fire and elephants, and measured their independent and interactive effects on the numerically dominant vertebrate (the arboreal gekkonid lizard Lygodactylus keniensis) and invertebrate (a guild of symbiotic Acacia ants) animal species in a semi-arid Kenyan savanna. Elephant exclusion alone (minus fire) had negligible effects on gecko density. Fire alone (minus elephants) had negligible effects on gecko density after 4 months, but increased gecko density twofold after 16 months, likely because the decay of fire-damaged woody biomass created refuges and nest sites for geckos. In the presence of elephants, fire increased gecko density nearly threefold within 4 months of the experimental burn; this occurred because fire increased the incidence of elephant damage to trees, which in turn improved microhabitat quality for geckos. However, this synergistic positive effect of fire and elephants attenuated over the ensuing year, such that only the main effect of fire was evident after 16 months. Fire also altered the structure of symbiotic plant-ant assemblages occupying the dominant tree species (Acacia drepanolobium); this influenced gecko habitat selection but did not explain the synergistic effect of fire and elephants. However, fire-driven shifts in plant-ant occupancy may have indirectly mediated this effect by increasing trees' susceptibility to elephant damage. Our

  12. A spatio-temporal analysis of landscape dynamics under changing environmental regimes in southern African savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bunting, Erin L.

    The United Nations and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deem many regions of southern Africa as vulnerable landscapes due to changing climatic regimes, ecological condition, and low adaptive capacity. The savanna ecosystems of southern Africa are of great ecological importance due to the high biodiversity they sustain, their high level of productivity, and the great role they play in the global carbon cycle. Given the dependence of humans on the lands it is essential to explore landscape level trends in patterns and processes in an effort to inform management practices. Even if climate change mitigation strategies were put in place, this is still a region heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture and tourism of the biological diverse lands. Therefore analysis of climate variability, both interannual and intra-annual, and the changing role it plays on the landscape is critical. This body of research analyzes the role of climate variability and climate on environmental condition and socio-economic development via research on (1) spatial and temporal vegetation patterns, (2) the underlying processes that influence savanna ecosystem resilience, (3) local perception of risk to livelihood development, and (4) potential consequences of climate change on vegetation patterns. As a whole this demonstrates the key role that climate plays on savanna landscapes, which would be highly beneficial when developing conservation or mitigation strategies. Increased climate variability is occurring, but what is still open to debate is the resilience of savanna landscape and vulnerability of socio-economic development.

  13. Defensive plant-ants stabilize megaherbivore-driven landscape change in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Goheen, Jacob R; Palmer, Todd M

    2010-10-12

    Tree cover in savanna ecosystems is usually regarded as unstable, varying with rainfall, fire, and herbivory. In sub-Saharan Africa, elephants (Loxodonta africana) suppress tree cover, thereby maintaining landscape heterogeneity by promoting tree-grass coexistence. In the absence of elephants, tree encroachment may convert savannas into closed-canopy woodlands; when elephants increase in abundance, intensified browsing pressure can transform savannas into open grasslands. We show that symbiotic ants stabilize tree cover across landscapes in Kenya by protecting a dominant tree from elephants. In feeding trials, elephants avoided plants with ants and did not distinguish between a myrmecophyte (the whistling-thorn tree [Acacia drepanolobium]) from which ants had been removed and a highly palatable, nonmyrmecophytic congener. In field experiments, elephants inflicted severe damage on whistling-thorn trees from which ants had been removed. Across two properties on which elephants increased between 2003 and 2008, cover of whistling-thorn did not change significantly inside versus outside large-scale elephant exclusion fences; over the same period of time, cover of nonmyrmecophytes differed profoundly inside versus outside exclusion fences. These results highlight the powerful role that symbioses and plant defense play in driving tree growth and survival in savannas, ecosystems of global economic and ecological importance.

  14. Land-atmosphere interactions in the West African Savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Parlange, M. B.; Ceperley, N. C.; Mande, T.; Bassiouni, M.; Van De Giesen, N.; Tyler, S. W.

    2012-12-01

    Continuous field observations in southeastern Burkina - Faso, since 2008, have been undertaken to observe and understand the diurnal and seasonal hydrologic behavior in this sensitive zone for global circulation patterns. Though this is an important region in the context of global hydrology it remains largely ungauged with minimal observation. To advance hydrology it becomes essential to start to measure at field scales of interest. Within a small watershed (< 4 km2), with mixed agriculture and Savanna forest, the ephemeral stream flow, surface energy balance, vegetation dynamics, and regional micrometeorology and soil moisture have been monitored using distributed environmental sensor networks, eddy correlation towers, stream gauging, sap flow monitoring and isotope sampling. The pattern of changes that take place during the wet season transitions and the coupling of local water resources with evaporation into the atmosphere are highlighted. The applications of robust evaporation models are discussed.

  15. Methane sources and sinks in a periodically flooded South African savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Otter, Luanne B.; Scholes, Mary C.

    2000-03-01

    Methane (CH4) fluxes were measured over a 2-year period at subtropical savanna and floodplain sites located in South Africa. No significant differences were detected in fluxes from the nutrient-rich and nutrient-poor savannas. Savannas were not always sinks and showed some CH4 emissions during the wet, summer season with fluxes in the range of -1.6 to 1.68 mg m-2 d-1. Soil temperature did not have a significant effect on the flux, while CH4 consumption decreased and emissions increased with an increase in soil moisture between 5% and 50% water-filled-pore-space (WFPS). Understanding the factors which control the production and emission of CH4 in aerobic environments is extremely important for predicting net emissions from a region. Dry floodplain soil fluxes were near zero and did not differ significantly from savanna fluxes. During a flood, saturated sites emitted CH4 at an average rate of 69.4 mg m-2 d-1. Flooded areas with a water depth of 0.3 - 0.4 m emitted CH4 from the water surface at rates between 0.48 and 466.3 mg m-2 d-1 with the highest emission occurring during summer. Emission rates were exponentially related to sediment temperature, which had a greater influence on the emission rate than the flood regime. The length of the dry period preceding the flood and the extent of a flood did not have a significant effect on CH4 fluxes from saturated and flooded sites. Emission rates were highest when the water level was between 0.1 m below the soil surface and 0.4 m above the soil surface, with emission rates declining to near zero as the water became deeper than 0.4 m. Savannas were estimated to consume an average of 0.04 g CH4 m-2 d-1, with southern African savannas consuming 0.23 Tg CH4 yr-1. Saturated and flooded sites were estimated to produce 25.3 and 57.2 g CH4 m-2 d-1, respectively. Southern African floodplains are estimated to produce between 0.2 and 10 Tg CH4 yr-1(excluding the effects of vegetation-mediated emissions) and therefore produce more CH4

  16. Western equatorial African forest-savanna mosaics: a legacy of late Holocene climatic change?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ngomanda, A.; Chepstow-Lusty, A.; Makaya, M.; Favier, C.; Schevin, P.; Maley, J.; Fontugne, M.; Oslisly, R.; Jolly, D.

    2009-02-01

    Past vegetation and climate changes reconstructed using two pollen records from Lakes Maridor and Nguène, Gabon, provide new insights into the environmental history of western equatorial African rainforests during the last 4500 cal yr BP. The Lake Maridor pollen record indicates that the coastal savannas of western equatorial Africa did not exist during the mid-Holocene and instead the region was covered by evergreen rainforests. In the Lake Nguène pollen record, a rapid decline of hygrophilous evergreen rainforest occurred around 4000 cal yr BP, synchronously with grassland expansion around Lake Maridor. The establishment of coastal savannas in Gabon suggests decreasing humidity at the onset of the late Holocene. The marked reduction in evergreen rainforest and subsequent savanna expansion was associated with the colonization of secondary forests dominated by the palm, Elaeis guineensis, in the coastal region and the shrub, Alchornea cordifolia, further inland. A return to wetter climatic conditions from about 1400 cal yr BP led to the renewed spread of evergreen rainforest inland, whereas a forest-savanna mosaic still persists in the coastal region. There is no evidence to suggest that the major environmental changes observed are driven by human impact.

  17. Prospects of photon counting lidar for savanna ecosystem structural studies

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gwenzi, D.; Lefsky, M. A.

    2014-11-01

    Discrete return and waveform lidar have demonstrated a capability to measure vegetation height and the associated structural attributes such as aboveground biomass and carbon storage. Since discrete return lidar (DRL) is mainly suitable for small scale studies and the only existing spaceborne lidar sensor (ICESat-GLAS) has been decommissioned, the current question is what the future holds in terms of large scale lidar remote sensing studies. The earliest planned future spaceborne lidar mission is ICESat-2, which will use a photon counting technique. To pre-validate the capability of this mission for studying three dimensional vegetation structure in savannas, we assessed the potential of the measurement approach to estimate canopy height in a typical savanna landscape. We used data from the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar (MABEL), an airborne photon counting lidar sensor developed by NASA Goddard. MABEL fires laser pulses in the green (532 nm) and near infrared (1064 nm) bands at a nominal repetition rate of 10 kHz and records the travel time of individual photons that are reflected back to the sensor. The photons' time of arrival and the instrument's GPS positions and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) orientation are used to calculate the distance the light travelled and hence the elevation of the surface below. A few transects flown over the Tejon ranch conservancy in Kern County, California, USA were used for this work. For each transect we extracted the data from one near infrared channel that had the highest number of photons. We segmented each transect into 50 m, 25 m and 10 m long blocks and aggregated the photons in each block into a histogram based on their elevation values. We then used an expansion window algorithm to identify cut off points where the cumulative density of photons from the highest elevation resembles the canopy top and likewise where such cumulative density from the lowest elevation resembles mean ground elevation. These cut off

  18. Estimating vegetation dryness to optimize fire risk assessment with spot vegetation satellite data in savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Verbesselt, J.; Somers, B.; Lhermitte, S.; van Aardt, J.; Jonckheere, I.; Coppin, P.

    2005-10-01

    The lack of information on vegetation dryness prior to the use of fire as a management tool often leads to a significant deterioration of the savanna ecosystem. This paper therefore evaluated the capacity of SPOT VEGETATION time-series to monitor the vegetation dryness (i.e., vegetation moisture content per vegetation amount) in order to optimize fire risk assessment in the savanna ecosystem of Kruger National Park in South Africa. The integrated Relative Vegetation Index approach (iRVI) to quantify the amount of herbaceous biomass at the end of the rain season and the Accumulated Relative Normalized Difference vegetation index decrement (ARND) related to vegetation moisture content were selected. The iRVI and ARND related to vegetation amount and moisture content, respectively, were combined in order to monitor vegetation dryness and optimize fire risk assessment in the savanna ecosystems. In situ fire activity data was used to evaluate the significance of the iRVI and ARND to monitor vegetation dryness for fire risk assessment. Results from the binary logistic regression analysis confirmed that the assessment of fire risk was optimized by integration of both the vegetation quantity (iRVI) and vegetation moisture content (ARND) as statistically significant explanatory variables. Consequently, the integrated use of both iRVI and ARND to monitor vegetation dryness provides a more suitable tool for fire management and suppression compared to other traditional satellite-based fire risk assessment methods, only related to vegetation moisture content.

  19. Trace gas emissions to the atmosphere by biomass burning in the west African savannas

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Frouin, Robert J.; Iacobellis, Samuel F.; Razafimpanilo, Herisoa; Somerville, Richard C. J.

    1994-01-01

    Savanna fires and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) detection and estimating burned area using Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer_(AVHRR) reflectance data are investigated in this two part research project. The first part involves carbon dioxide flux estimates and a three-dimensional transport model to quantify the effect of north African savanna fires on atmospheric CO2 concentration, including CO2 spatial and temporal variability patterns and their significance to global emissions. The second article describes two methods used to determine burned area from AVHRR data. The article discusses the relationship between the percentage of burned area and AVHRR channel 2 reflectance (the linear method) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) (the nonlinear method). A comparative performance analysis of each method is described.

  20. A New Application to Facilitate Post-Fire Recovery and Rehabilitation in Savanna Ecosystems

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Carroll, Mark L.; Schnase, John L.; Weber, Keith T.; Brown, Molly E.; Gill, Roger L.; Haskett, George W.; Gardner, Tess A.

    2013-01-01

    The U.S. government spends an estimated $3billion per year to fight forest fires in the United States. Post-fire rehabilitation activities represent a small but essential portion of that total. The Rehabilitation Capability Convergence for Ecosystem Recovery (RECOVER) system is currently under development for Savanna ecosystems in the western U.S. The prototype of this system has been built and will have realworld testing during the summer 2013 fire season. When fully deployed, the RECOVER system will provide the emergency rehabilitation teams with critical and timely information for management decisions regarding stabilization and rehabilitation strategies.

  1. Uncertainties in Measuring and Modeling Evapotranspiration in Open Savanna Ecosystems in West-Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Falk, Ulrike; Hendrickx, Jan M. H.; Conrad, Christopher; Vlek, Paul

    2010-05-01

    observations and the Surface Energy Balance Algorithms for Land (SEBAL) in an open savanna ecosystem in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Most of the area is agriculturally used land on a spatial scale considerably smaller than pixel size of the RS imagery. Two years of continuous data from LAS as well as EC systems are analyzed and compared to modeled estimates of ET using remote sensing. Meteorological and biophysical boundary conditions of West African climate are highly variable between dry and rainy season and lead to seasonal differences in the time series and energy balance closure. This is analyzed with regard to applicability of the different approaches to estimate ET.

  2. Suppression of savanna ants alters invertebrate composition and influences key ecosystem processes.

    PubMed

    Parr, C L; Eggleton, P; Davies, A B; Evans, T A; Holdsworth, S

    2016-06-01

    In almost every ecosystem, ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) are the dominant terrestrial invertebrate group. Their functional value was highlighted by Wilson (1987) who famously declared that invertebrates are the "little things that run the world." However, while it is generally accepted that ants fulfil important functions, few studies have tested these assumptions and demonstrated what happens in their absence. We report on a novel large-scale field experiment in undisturbed savanna habitat where we examined how ants influence the abundance of other invertebrate taxa in the system, and affect the key processes of decomposition and herbivory. Our experiment demonstrated that ants suppressed the abundance and activity of beetles, millipedes, and termites, and also influenced decomposition rates and levels of herbivory. Our study is the first to show that top-down control of termites by ants can have important ecosystem consequences. Further studies are needed to elucidate the effects ant communities have on other aspects of the ecosystem (e.g., soils, nutrient cycling, the microbial community) and how their relative importance for ecosystem function varies among ecosystem types (e.g., savanna vs. forest).

  3. Suppression of savanna ants alters invertebrate composition and influences key ecosystem processes.

    PubMed

    Parr, C L; Eggleton, P; Davies, A B; Evans, T A; Holdsworth, S

    2016-06-01

    In almost every ecosystem, ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) are the dominant terrestrial invertebrate group. Their functional value was highlighted by Wilson (1987) who famously declared that invertebrates are the "little things that run the world." However, while it is generally accepted that ants fulfil important functions, few studies have tested these assumptions and demonstrated what happens in their absence. We report on a novel large-scale field experiment in undisturbed savanna habitat where we examined how ants influence the abundance of other invertebrate taxa in the system, and affect the key processes of decomposition and herbivory. Our experiment demonstrated that ants suppressed the abundance and activity of beetles, millipedes, and termites, and also influenced decomposition rates and levels of herbivory. Our study is the first to show that top-down control of termites by ants can have important ecosystem consequences. Further studies are needed to elucidate the effects ant communities have on other aspects of the ecosystem (e.g., soils, nutrient cycling, the microbial community) and how their relative importance for ecosystem function varies among ecosystem types (e.g., savanna vs. forest). PMID:27459790

  4. Termites as Mediators of the Water Economy of Arid Savanna Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Turner, S.

    2002-05-01

    Termites of the genus Macrotermes are major movers of carbon, minerals and soil through arid savanna ecosystems. They and their fungal symbionts concentrate cellulose digestion and metabolism in a tightly regulated nest environment, which results in a very high metabolic power density in the nest. Cellulose, their principal food, is a potent source of stored energy through the photosynthetic fixation of carbon dioxide. However, cellulose is also fixed water, which is released by its metabolism. Because of the highly seasonal rains in arid savannas, plants often experience drought conditions in the summer months. However, termite metabolism can make water available year-round to plants growing near termite colonies. Long-term variations in rainfall and drought (such as periodic El Nino events) can be further ameliorated by the regulated release of fixed water by termites.

  5. Topo-edaphic controls over woody plant biomass in South African savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Colgan, M. S.; Asner, G. P.; Levick, S. R.; Martin, R. E.; Chadwick, O. A.

    2012-01-01

    The distribution of woody biomass in savannas reflects spatial patterns fundamental to ecosystem processes, such as water flow, competition, and herbivory, and is a key contributor to savanna ecosystem services, such as fuelwood supply. While total precipitation sets an upper bound on savanna woody biomass, the extent to which substrate and terrain constrain trees and shrubs below this maximum remains poorly understood, often occluded by local-scale disturbances such as fire and trampling. Here we investigate the role of hillslope topography and soil properties in controlling woody plant aboveground biomass (AGB) in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Large-area sampling with airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) provided a means to average across local-scale disturbances, revealing an unexpectedly linear relationship between AGB and hillslope-position on basalts, where biomass levels were lowest on crests, and linearly increased toward streams (R2 = 0.91). The observed pattern was different on granite substrates, where AGB exhibited a strongly non-linear relationship with hillslope position: AGB was high on crests, decreased midslope, and then increased near stream channels (R2 = 0.87). Overall, we observed 5-to-8-fold lower AGB on clayey, basalt-derived soil than on granites, and we suggest this is due to herbivore-fire interactions rather than lower hydraulic conductivity or clay shrinkage/swelling, as previously hypothesized. By mapping AGB within and outside fire and herbivore exclosures, we found that basalt-derived soils support tenfold higher AGB in the absence of fire and herbivory, suggesting high clay content alone is not a~proximal limitation on AGB. Understanding how fire and herbivory contribute to AGB heterogeneity is critical to predicting future savanna carbon storage under a changing climate.

  6. Topo-edaphic controls over woody plant biomass in South African savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Colgan, M. S.; Asner, G. P.; Levick, S. R.; Martin, R. E.; Chadwick, O. A.

    2012-05-01

    The distribution of woody biomass in savannas reflects spatial patterns fundamental to ecosystem processes, such as water flow, competition, and herbivory, and is a key contributor to savanna ecosystem services, such as fuelwood supply. While total precipitation sets an upper bound on savanna woody biomass, the extent to which substrate and terrain constrain trees and shrubs below this maximum remains poorly understood, often occluded by local-scale disturbances such as fire and trampling. Here we investigate the role of hillslope topography and soil properties in controlling woody plant aboveground biomass (AGB) in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Large-area sampling with airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) provided a means to average across local-scale disturbances, revealing an unexpectedly linear relationship between AGB and hillslope-position on basalts, where biomass levels were lowest on crests, and linearly increased toward streams (R2 = 0.91). The observed pattern was different on granite substrates, where AGB exhibited a strongly non-linear relationship with hillslope position: AGB was high on crests, decreased midslope, and then increased near stream channels (R2 = 0.87). Overall, we observed 5-to-8-fold lower AGB on clayey, basalt-derived soil than on granites, and we suggest this is due to herbivore-fire interactions rather than lower hydraulic conductivity or clay shrinkage/swelling, as previously hypothesized. By mapping AGB within and outside fire and herbivore exclosures, we found that basalt-derived soils support tenfold higher AGB in the absence of fire and herbivory, suggesting high clay content alone is not a proximal limitation on AGB. Understanding how fire and herbivory contribute to AGB heterogeneity is critical to predicting future savanna carbon storage under a changing climate.

  7. Fire alters ecosystem carbon and nutrients but not plant nutrient stoichiometry or composition in tropical savanna.

    PubMed

    Pellegrini, Adam F A; Hedin, Lars O; Staver, A Carla; Govender, Navashni

    2015-05-01

    Fire and nutrients interact to influence the global distribution and dynamics of the savanna biome, but the results of these interactions are both complex and poorly known. A critical but unresolved question is whether short-term losses of carbon and nutrients caused by fire can trigger long-term and potentially compensatory responses in the nutrient stoichiometry of plants, or in the abundance of dinitrogen-fixing trees. There is disagreement in the literature about the potential role of fire on savanna nutrients, and, in turn, on plant stoichiometry and composition. A major limitation has been the lack of fire manipulations over time scales sufficiently long for these interactions to emerge. We use a 58-year, replicated, large-scale, fire manipulation experiment in Kruger National Park (South Africa) in savanna to quantify the effect of fire on (1) distributions of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus at the ecosystem scale; (2) carbon: nitrogen: phosphorus stoichiometry of above- and belowground tissues of plant species; and (3) abundance of plant functional groups including nitrogen fixers. Our results show dramatic effects of fire on the relative distribution of nutrients in soils, but that individual plant stoichiometry and plant community composition remained unexpectedly resilient. Moreover, measures of nutrients and carbon stable isotopes allowed us to discount the role of tree cover change in favor of the turnover of herbaceous biomass as the primary mechanism that mediates a transition from low to high 'soil carbon and nutrients in the absence of fire. We conclude that, in contrast to extra-tropical grasslands or closed-canopy forests, vegetation in the savanna biome may be uniquely adapted to nutrient losses caused by recurring fire.

  8. Seasonal diet and prey preference of the African lion in a waterhole-driven semi-arid savanna.

    PubMed

    Davidson, Zeke; Valeix, Marion; Van Kesteren, Freya; Loveridge, Andrew J; Hunt, Jane E; Murindagomo, Felix; Macdonald, David W

    2013-01-01

    Large carnivores inhabiting ecosystems with heterogeneously distributed environmental resources with strong seasonal variations frequently employ opportunistic foraging strategies, often typified by seasonal switches in diet. In semi-arid ecosystems, herbivore distribution is generally more homogeneous in the wet season, when surface water is abundant, than in the dry season when only permanent sources remain. Here, we investigate the seasonal contribution of the different herbivore species, prey preference and distribution of kills (i.e. feeding locations) of African lions in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, a semi-arid African savanna structured by artificial waterholes. We used data from 245 kills and 74 faecal samples. Buffalo consistently emerged as the most frequently utilised prey in all seasons by both male (56%) and female (33%) lions, contributing the most to lion dietary biomass. Jacobs' index also revealed that buffalo was the most intensively selected species throughout the year. For female lions, kudu and to a lesser extent the group "medium Bovidae" are the most important secondary prey. This study revealed seasonal patterns in secondary prey consumption by female lions partly based on prey ecology with browsers, such as giraffe and kudu, mainly consumed in the early dry season, and grazers, such as zebra and suids, contributing more to female diet in the late dry season. Further, it revealed the opportunistic hunting behaviour of lions for prey as diverse as elephants and mice, with elephants taken mostly as juveniles at the end of the dry season during droughts. Jacobs' index finally revealed a very strong preference for kills within 2 km from a waterhole for all prey species, except small antelopes, in all seasons. This suggested that surface-water resources form passive traps and contribute to the structuring of lion foraging behaviour.

  9. Ecosystem properties of semiarid savanna grassland in West Africa and its relationship with environmental variability.

    PubMed

    Tagesson, Torbern; Fensholt, Rasmus; Guiro, Idrissa; Rasmussen, Mads Olander; Huber, Silvia; Mbow, Cheikh; Garcia, Monica; Horion, Stéphanie; Sandholt, Inge; Holm-Rasmussen, Bo; Göttsche, Frank M; Ridler, Marc-Etienne; Olén, Niklas; Lundegard Olsen, Jørgen; Ehammer, Andrea; Madsen, Mathias; Olesen, Folke S; Ardö, Jonas

    2015-01-01

    The Dahra field site in Senegal, West Africa, was established in 2002 to monitor ecosystem properties of semiarid savanna grassland and their responses to climatic and environmental change. This article describes the environment and the ecosystem properties of the site using a unique set of in situ data. The studied variables include hydroclimatic variables, species composition, albedo, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), hyperspectral characteristics (350-1800 nm), surface reflectance anisotropy, brightness temperature, fraction of absorbed photosynthetic active radiation (FAPAR), biomass, vegetation water content, and land-atmosphere exchanges of carbon (NEE) and energy. The Dahra field site experiences a typical Sahelian climate and is covered by coexisting trees (~3% canopy cover) and grass species, characterizing large parts of the Sahel. This makes the site suitable for investigating relationships between ecosystem properties and hydroclimatic variables for semiarid savanna ecosystems of the region. There were strong interannual, seasonal and diurnal dynamics in NEE, with high values of ~-7.5 g C m(-2)  day(-1) during the peak of the growing season. We found neither browning nor greening NDVI trends from 2002 to 2012. Interannual variation in species composition was strongly related to rainfall distribution. NDVI and FAPAR were strongly related to species composition, especially for years dominated by the species Zornia glochidiata. This influence was not observed in interannual variation in biomass and vegetation productivity, thus challenging dryland productivity models based on remote sensing. Surface reflectance anisotropy (350-1800 nm) at the peak of the growing season varied strongly depending on wavelength and viewing angle thereby having implications for the design of remotely sensed spectral vegetation indices covering different wavelength regions. The presented time series of in situ data have great potential for dryland dynamics

  10. Integrating in-situ, Landsat, and MODIS data for mapping in Southern African savannas: experiences of LCCS-based land-cover mapping in the Kalahari in Namibia.

    PubMed

    Hüttich, Christian; Herold, Martin; Strohbach, Ben J; Dech, Stefan

    2011-05-01

    Integrated ecosystem assessment initiatives are important steps towards a global biodiversity observing system. Reliable earth observation data are key information for tracking biodiversity change on various scales. Regarding the establishment of standardized environmental observation systems, a key question is: What can be observed on each scale and how can land cover information be transferred? In this study, a land cover map from a dry semi-arid savanna ecosystem in Namibia was obtained based on the UN LCCS, in-situ data, and MODIS and Landsat satellite imagery. In situ botanical relevé samples were used as baseline data for the definition of a standardized LCCS legend. A standard LCCS code for savanna vegetation types is introduced. An object-oriented segmentation of Landsat imagery was used as intermediate stage for downscaling in-situ training data on a coarse MODIS resolution. MODIS time series metrics of the growing season 2004/2005 were used to classify Kalahari vegetation types using a tree-based ensemble classifier (Random Forest). The prevailing Kalahari vegetation types based on LCCS was open broadleaved deciduous shrubland with an herbaceous layer which differs from the class assignments of the global and regional land-cover maps. The separability analysis based on Bhattacharya distance measurements applied on two LCCS levels indicated a relationship of spectral mapping dependencies of annual MODIS time series features due to the thematic detail of the classification scheme. The analysis of LCCS classifiers showed an increased significance of life-form composition and soil conditions to the mapping accuracy. An overall accuracy of 92.48% was achieved. Woody plant associations proved to be most stable due to small omission and commission errors. The case study comprised a first suitability assessment of the LCCS classifier approach for a southern African savanna ecosystem.

  11. Quantifying the hydrological significance of tree hydraulic redistribution in a savanna ecosystem.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cable, W. L.; Scott, R. L.

    2005-12-01

    A number of recent studies have illuminated that plant root systems in dryland ecosystems often facilitate soil moisture redistribution, but the hydrologic significance of this process is poorly understood. In dryland ecosystems this may be an important interaction as water is often the limiting factor in biomass accumulation. We are studying the way in which the tree, Prosopis velutina, influences the hydrologic cycle though hydraulic redistribution in an upland savanna ecosystem. Using the heat ratio method we are measuring bi-directional sap flow in both lateral and tap roots. Additionally, we are monitoring soil water content and whole ecosystem carbon and water exchange adjacent to the trees being studied. We have found that the tree root systems transport water even when the trees are dormant. Thus, wintertime precipitation tends to be taken up by shallow lateral roots and translocated to deeper lateral and tap roots. This trend also occurs when trees are active and when excess moisture from summer monsoons is available in the upper soil layers. As the upper soil layers dry out water use from deeper soil layers is increased. We believe that this deeper "stored" water is what allows the trees to become active in the spring even when surface soils are extremely dry and helps carry them through periods of drought. These findings help shed some light on how a woody plant can thrive in an ecosystem where precipitation is sporadically distributed in space and time.

  12. Carbon, Water, and Energy Dynamics in a Savanna Mosaic: Results From an African Field Campaign

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Williams, C. A.; Albertson, J. D.

    2002-12-01

    Savanna ecosystems cover a large fraction of the terrestrial landscape with a shifting mosaic of vegetation that is poorly understood. Vegetation dynamics in savannas are believed to be triggered by variation in climate forcing with potential local and regional scale feedbacks on climate and with nonlinear behavior, such as self-organization. Recent debate has brought attention to uncertainty regarding the role of savannas in global carbon and water cycles, identifying the need for data that can address the coupled water and carbon dynamics of these sensitive ecosystems. We report results from a 30-day field campaign conducted in southern Africa near Ghanzi, Botswana along the Kalahari Transect. This water-limited site is ideal for studies of soil and plant water relations because high spatial and temporal variability in rainfall has direct effects on vegetation function, extent, and composition. We characterized the functional response of tree/grass/bare soil mosaics during a prolonged drydown following a large rain event (85 mm) at the end of the 2002 wet season. Net radiation, sensible, latent and soil heat fluxes, carbon dioxide exchange, soil moisture, soil temperature, and vegetation temperatures were measured at two sites, one dominated by woody vegetation (Acacia and Terminalia) and the other composed of native grasses, shrubs, and bare soil. We characterized the vegetation structure within the footprints of both towers with measurements of leaf area, fractional vegetation cover, and profiles of aboveground and belowground biomass. Additionally, leaf-level gas exchange measurements were conducted on dominant species. Soil moisture decayed from a peak of 0.28 after the storm to 0.05, measured 5 cm below the soil surface. The drydown resulted in a continual increase in the daytime Bowen ratio, a decrease of leaf-level evapotranspiration, and reduced net ecosystem exchange of CO2. Biophysical differences between C3 trees and C4 grasses were evident from vapor

  13. Water and carbon fluxes from savanna ecosystems of the Volta River watershed, West Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Freitag, Heiko; Ferguson, Paul R.; Dubois, Kristal; Hayford, Ebenezer Kofi; von Vordzogbe, Vincent; Veizer, Ján

    2008-03-01

    The fluxes of water and carbon from terrestrial ecosystems are coupled via the process of photosynthesis. Constraining the annual water cycle therefore allows first order estimates of annual photosynthetic carbon flux, providing that the components of evapotranspiration can be separated. In this study, an isotope mass-balance equation is utilized to constrain annual evaporation flux, which in turn, is used to determine the amount of water transferred to the atmosphere by plant transpiration. The Volta River watershed in West Africa is dominated by woodland and savanna ecosystems with a significant proportion of C 4 vegetation. Annually, the Volta watershed receives ˜ 380 km 3 of rainfall, ˜ 50% of which is returned to the atmosphere via transpiration. An annual photosynthetic carbon flux of ˜ 170 × 10 12 g C yr - 1 or ˜ 428 g C m - 2 was estimated to be associated with this water vapor flux. Independent estimates of heterotrophic soil respiration slightly exceeded the NPP estimate from this study, implying that the exchange of carbon between the Volta River watershed and the atmosphere was close to being in balance or that terrestrial ecosystems were a small annual source of CO 2 to the atmosphere. In addition to terrestrial carbon flux, the balance of photosynthesis and respiration in Volta Lake was also examined. The lake was found to evade carbon dioxide to the atmosphere although the magnitude of the flux was much smaller than that of the terrestrial ecosystems.

  14. Projections of 21st Century African Climate: Implications for African Savanna Fire Dynamics, Human Health and Food Security

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Adegoke, J. O.

    2015-12-01

    Fire is a key agent of change in the African savannas, which are shaped through the complex interactions between trees, C4 grasses, rainfall, temperature, CO2 and fire. These fires and their emitted smoke can have numerous direct and indirect effects on the environment, water resources, air quality, and climate. For instance, veld fires in southern Africa cause large financial losses to agriculture, livestock production and forestry on an annual basis. This study contributes to our understanding of the implications of projected surface temperature evolution in Africa for fire risk, human health and agriculture over the coming decades. We use an ensemble of high-resolution regional climate model simulations of African climate for the 21st century. Regional dowscalings and recent global circulation model projections obtained for Africa indicate that African temperatures are likely to rise at 1.5 times the global rate of temperature increase in the tropics, and at almost twice the global rate of increase in the subtropics. Warming is projected to occur during the 21st century, with increases of 4-6 °C over the subtropics and 3-5 °C over the tropics plausible by the end of the century relative to present-day climate under the A2 (low mitigation) scenario. We explore the significance of the projected warming by documenting increases in projected high fire danger days and heat-wave days. General drying is projected across the continent, even for areas (e.g. tropical Africa) where an increase in rainfall is plausible. This is due to the drastic increases in temperature that are projected, which leads to drier soils (through enhanced evaporation) despite the rainfall increases. This will likely impact negatively on crop yield, particularly on the maize crop that is of crucial importance in terms of African food security.

  15. Invasive Andropogon gayanus (gamba grass) is an ecosystem transformer of nitrogen relations in Australian savanna.

    PubMed

    Rossiter-Rachor, N A; Setterfield, S A; Douglas, M M; Hutley, L B; Cook, G D; Schmidt, S

    2009-09-01

    Invasion by the African grass Andropogon gayanus is drastically altering the understory structure of oligotrophic savannas in tropical Australia. We compared nitrogen (N) relations and phenology of A. gayanus and native grasses to examine the impact of invasion on N cycling and to determine possible reasons for invasiveness of A. gayanus. Andropogon gayanus produced up to 10 and four times more shoot phytomass and root biomass, with up to seven and 2.5 times greater shoot and root N pools than native grass understory. These pronounced differences in phytomass and N pools between A. gayanus and native grasses were associated with an altered N cycle. Most growth occurs in the wet season when, compared with native grasses, dominance of A. gayanus was associated with significantly lower total soil N pools, lower nitrification rates, up to three times lower soil nitrate availability, and up to three times higher soil ammonium availability. Uptake kinetics for different N sources were studied with excised roots of three grass species ex situ. Excised roots of A. gayanus had an over six times higher-uptake rate of ammonium than roots of native grasses, while native grass Eriachne triseta had a three times higher uptake rate of nitrate than A. gayanus. We hypothesize that A. gayanus stimulates ammonification but inhibits nitrification, as was shown to occur in its native range in Africa, and that this modification of the soil N cycle is linked to the species' preference for ammonium as an N source. This mechanism could result in altered soil N relations and could enhance the competitive superiority and persistence of A. gayanus in Australian savannas. PMID:19769102

  16. Invasive Andropogon gayanus (gamba grass) is an ecosystem transformer of nitrogen relations in Australian savanna.

    PubMed

    Rossiter-Rachor, N A; Setterfield, S A; Douglas, M M; Hutley, L B; Cook, G D; Schmidt, S

    2009-09-01

    Invasion by the African grass Andropogon gayanus is drastically altering the understory structure of oligotrophic savannas in tropical Australia. We compared nitrogen (N) relations and phenology of A. gayanus and native grasses to examine the impact of invasion on N cycling and to determine possible reasons for invasiveness of A. gayanus. Andropogon gayanus produced up to 10 and four times more shoot phytomass and root biomass, with up to seven and 2.5 times greater shoot and root N pools than native grass understory. These pronounced differences in phytomass and N pools between A. gayanus and native grasses were associated with an altered N cycle. Most growth occurs in the wet season when, compared with native grasses, dominance of A. gayanus was associated with significantly lower total soil N pools, lower nitrification rates, up to three times lower soil nitrate availability, and up to three times higher soil ammonium availability. Uptake kinetics for different N sources were studied with excised roots of three grass species ex situ. Excised roots of A. gayanus had an over six times higher-uptake rate of ammonium than roots of native grasses, while native grass Eriachne triseta had a three times higher uptake rate of nitrate than A. gayanus. We hypothesize that A. gayanus stimulates ammonification but inhibits nitrification, as was shown to occur in its native range in Africa, and that this modification of the soil N cycle is linked to the species' preference for ammonium as an N source. This mechanism could result in altered soil N relations and could enhance the competitive superiority and persistence of A. gayanus in Australian savannas.

  17. Forecasting spatial plant dynamics under future climate change in a semiarid savanna ecosystem with complex topography

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhou, X.; Fatichi, S.; Istanbulluoglu, E.; Vivoni, E. R.

    2011-12-01

    The space and time dynamics of savanna ecosystems in semiarid regions is tightly related to fluctuations and changes in the climate, and the competition strategies of individual plants for resources. In most parts of the southwest U.S., various General Circulation Models (GCMs) predict general warming trends with reduced annual precipitation amounts, and increased frequency of extreme droughts and wet periods in the 21st century. Despite the potential risks posed by climate change on vegetation patterns and hydrology, our ability to predict such changes at the catchment and regional scales is limited. In this study, we used a recently developed spatially explicit Cellular Automata Tree-Grass-Shrub Simulator (CATGraSS) to investigate the impacts of climate change on plant dynamics in a semiarid catchment (>3km2) located in the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) in central New Mexico, USA. In the catchment north-facing slopes are characterized by a juniper-grass savanna, and south-facing slopes by creosote bush and grass species. Initialized by LIDAR-derived tree locations and simulated grass and shrub patterns obtained from model calibration, CATGraSS is forced by a weather generator, AWE-GEN, used to downscale an ensemble of eight different GCM outputs at the study basin, producing multiple stochastic realizations of a transient climate scenario for the next hundred years. The ensemble simulations are used to examine the uncertainty in vegetation response and develop probabilistic plant distribution maps in relation to landscape morphology. This study highlights the importance of understanding local scale plant-to-plant interactions and the role of climate variability in determining climate change impacts on vegetation dynamics at varying spatial scales.

  18. Stable isotopes in ecosystem science: structure, function and dynamics of a subtropical Savanna.

    PubMed

    Boutton, T W; Archer, S R; Midwood, A J

    1999-01-01

    Stable isotopes are often utilized as intrinsic tracers to study the effects of human land uses on the structural and functional characteristics of ecosystems. Here, we illustrate how stable isotopes of H, C, and O have been utilized to document changes in ecosystem structure and function using a case study from a subtropical savanna ecosystem. Specifically, we demonstrate that: (1) delta 13C values of soil organic carbon record a vegetation change in this ecosystem from C4 grassland to C3 woodland during the past 40-120 years, and (2) delta 2H and delta 18O of plant and soil water reveal changes in ecosystem hydrology that accompanied this grassland-to-woodland transition. In the Rio Grande Plains of North America, delta 13C values of plants and soils indicate that areas now dominated by C3 subtropical thorn woodland were once C4 grasslands. delta 13C values of current organic matter inputs from wooded landscape elements in this region are characteristic of C3 plants (-28 to -25/1000), while those of the associated soil organic carbon are higher and range from -20 to -15/1000. Approximately 50-90% of soil carbon beneath the present C3 woodlands is derived from C4 grasses. A strong memory of the C4 grasslands that once dominated this region is retained by delta 13C values of organic carbon associated with fine and coarse clay fractions. When delta 13C values are evaluated in conjunction with 14C measurements of that same soil carbon, it appears that grassland-to-woodland conversion occurred largely within the past 40-120 years, coincident with the intensification of livestock grazing and reductions in fire frequency. These conclusions substantiate those based on demographic characteristics of the dominant tree species, historical aerial photography, and accounts of early settlers and explores. Concurrent changes in soil delta 13C values and organic carbon content over the past 90 years also indicate that wooded landscape elements are behaving as sinks for

  19. Stable isotopes in ecosystem science: structure, function and dynamics of a subtropical Savanna.

    PubMed

    Boutton, T W; Archer, S R; Midwood, A J

    1999-01-01

    Stable isotopes are often utilized as intrinsic tracers to study the effects of human land uses on the structural and functional characteristics of ecosystems. Here, we illustrate how stable isotopes of H, C, and O have been utilized to document changes in ecosystem structure and function using a case study from a subtropical savanna ecosystem. Specifically, we demonstrate that: (1) delta 13C values of soil organic carbon record a vegetation change in this ecosystem from C4 grassland to C3 woodland during the past 40-120 years, and (2) delta 2H and delta 18O of plant and soil water reveal changes in ecosystem hydrology that accompanied this grassland-to-woodland transition. In the Rio Grande Plains of North America, delta 13C values of plants and soils indicate that areas now dominated by C3 subtropical thorn woodland were once C4 grasslands. delta 13C values of current organic matter inputs from wooded landscape elements in this region are characteristic of C3 plants (-28 to -25/1000), while those of the associated soil organic carbon are higher and range from -20 to -15/1000. Approximately 50-90% of soil carbon beneath the present C3 woodlands is derived from C4 grasses. A strong memory of the C4 grasslands that once dominated this region is retained by delta 13C values of organic carbon associated with fine and coarse clay fractions. When delta 13C values are evaluated in conjunction with 14C measurements of that same soil carbon, it appears that grassland-to-woodland conversion occurred largely within the past 40-120 years, coincident with the intensification of livestock grazing and reductions in fire frequency. These conclusions substantiate those based on demographic characteristics of the dominant tree species, historical aerial photography, and accounts of early settlers and explores. Concurrent changes in soil delta 13C values and organic carbon content over the past 90 years also indicate that wooded landscape elements are behaving as sinks for

  20. Herbaceous Forage and Selection Patterns by Ungulates across Varying Herbivore Assemblages in a South African Savanna

    PubMed Central

    Treydte, Anna Christina; Baumgartner, Sabine; Heitkönig, Ignas M. A.; Grant, Catharina C.; Getz, Wayne M.

    2013-01-01

    Herbivores generally have strong structural and compositional effects on vegetation, which in turn determines the plant forage species available. We investigated how selected large mammalian herbivore assemblages use and alter herbaceous vegetation structure and composition in a southern African savanna in and adjacent to the Kruger National Park, South Africa. We compared mixed and mono-specific herbivore assemblages of varying density and investigated similarities in vegetation patterns under wildlife and livestock herbivory. Grass species composition differed significantly, standing biomass and grass height were almost twice as high at sites of low density compared to high density mixed wildlife species. Selection of various grass species by herbivores was positively correlated with greenness, nutrient content and palatability. Nutrient-rich Urochloa mosambicensis Hack. and Panicum maximum Jacq. grasses were preferred forage species, which significantly differed in abundance across sites of varying grazing pressure. Green grasses growing beneath trees were grazed more frequently than dry grasses growing in the open. Our results indicate that grazing herbivores appear to base their grass species preferences on nutrient content cues and that a characteristic grass species abundance and herb layer structure can be matched with mammalian herbivory types. PMID:24358228

  1. Harvesting and chewing as constraints to forage consumption by the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Clegg, Bruce W; O'Connor, Timothy G

    2016-01-01

    As a foundation for understanding the diet of African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana), adult bulls and cows were observed over an annual cycle to determine whether harvesting (Pt ), chewing (Ct ) and handling times (Ht ) differed across food types and harvesting methods (handling time is defined as the time to harvest, chew and swallow a trunkload of food). Bulls and cows were observed 105 and 26 times, respectively (94 and 26 individuals), with a total of 64 h of feeding recorded across 32 vegetation types. Some food types took longer to harvest and chew than others, which may influence intake rate and affect choice of diet. The method used to gather a trunkload of food had a significant effect on harvesting time, with simple foraging actions being comparatively rapid and more difficult tasks taking longer. Handling time was constrained by chewing for bulls, except for the processing of roots from woody plants, which was limited by harvesting. Time to gather a trunkload had a greater influence on handling time for cows compared to bulls. Harvesting and handling times were longer for bulls than cows, with the sexes adopting foraging behaviors that best suited their energy requirements. PMID:27688971

  2. Herbaceous forage and selection patterns by ungulates across varying herbivore assemblages in a South African Savanna.

    PubMed

    Treydte, Anna Christina; Baumgartner, Sabine; Heitkönig, Ignas M A; Grant, Catharina C; Getz, Wayne M

    2013-01-01

    Herbivores generally have strong structural and compositional effects on vegetation, which in turn determines the plant forage species available. We investigated how selected large mammalian herbivore assemblages use and alter herbaceous vegetation structure and composition in a southern African savanna in and adjacent to the Kruger National Park, South Africa. We compared mixed and mono-specific herbivore assemblages of varying density and investigated similarities in vegetation patterns under wildlife and livestock herbivory. Grass species composition differed significantly, standing biomass and grass height were almost twice as high at sites of low density compared to high density mixed wildlife species. Selection of various grass species by herbivores was positively correlated with greenness, nutrient content and palatability. Nutrient-rich Urochloa mosambicensis Hack. and Panicum maximum Jacq. grasses were preferred forage species, which significantly differed in abundance across sites of varying grazing pressure. Green grasses growing beneath trees were grazed more frequently than dry grasses growing in the open. Our results indicate that grazing herbivores appear to base their grass species preferences on nutrient content cues and that a characteristic grass species abundance and herb layer structure can be matched with mammalian herbivory types.

  3. Harvesting and chewing as constraints to forage consumption by the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    O’Connor, Timothy G.

    2016-01-01

    As a foundation for understanding the diet of African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana), adult bulls and cows were observed over an annual cycle to determine whether harvesting (Pt), chewing (Ct) and handling times (Ht) differed across food types and harvesting methods (handling time is defined as the time to harvest, chew and swallow a trunkload of food). Bulls and cows were observed 105 and 26 times, respectively (94 and 26 individuals), with a total of 64 h of feeding recorded across 32 vegetation types. Some food types took longer to harvest and chew than others, which may influence intake rate and affect choice of diet. The method used to gather a trunkload of food had a significant effect on harvesting time, with simple foraging actions being comparatively rapid and more difficult tasks taking longer. Handling time was constrained by chewing for bulls, except for the processing of roots from woody plants, which was limited by harvesting. Time to gather a trunkload had a greater influence on handling time for cows compared to bulls. Harvesting and handling times were longer for bulls than cows, with the sexes adopting foraging behaviors that best suited their energy requirements.

  4. Harvesting and chewing as constraints to forage consumption by the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    O’Connor, Timothy G.

    2016-01-01

    As a foundation for understanding the diet of African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana), adult bulls and cows were observed over an annual cycle to determine whether harvesting (Pt), chewing (Ct) and handling times (Ht) differed across food types and harvesting methods (handling time is defined as the time to harvest, chew and swallow a trunkload of food). Bulls and cows were observed 105 and 26 times, respectively (94 and 26 individuals), with a total of 64 h of feeding recorded across 32 vegetation types. Some food types took longer to harvest and chew than others, which may influence intake rate and affect choice of diet. The method used to gather a trunkload of food had a significant effect on harvesting time, with simple foraging actions being comparatively rapid and more difficult tasks taking longer. Handling time was constrained by chewing for bulls, except for the processing of roots from woody plants, which was limited by harvesting. Time to gather a trunkload had a greater influence on handling time for cows compared to bulls. Harvesting and handling times were longer for bulls than cows, with the sexes adopting foraging behaviors that best suited their energy requirements. PMID:27688971

  5. Stem and leaf hydraulics of congeneric tree species from adjacent tropical savanna and forest ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Hao, Guang-You; Hoffmann, William A; Scholz, Fabian G; Bucci, Sandra J; Meinzer, Frederick C; Franco, Augusto C; Cao, Kun-Fang; Goldstein, Guillermo

    2008-03-01

    Leaf and stem functional traits related to plant water relations were studied for six congeneric species pairs, each composed of one tree species typical of savanna habitats and another typical of adjacent forest habitats, to determine whether there were intrinsic differences in plant hydraulics between these two functional types. Only individuals growing in savanna habitats were studied. Most stem traits, including wood density, the xylem water potential at 50% loss of hydraulic conductivity, sapwood area specific conductivity, and leaf area specific conductivity did not differ significantly between savanna and forest species. However, maximum leaf hydraulic conductance (K (leaf)) and leaf capacitance tended to be higher in savanna species. Predawn leaf water potential and leaf mass per area were also higher in savanna species in all congeneric pairs. Hydraulic vulnerability curves of stems and leaves indicated that leaves were more vulnerable to drought-induced cavitation than terminal branches regardless of genus. The midday K (leaf) values estimated from leaf vulnerability curves were very low implying that daily embolism repair may occur in leaves. An electric circuit analog model predicted that, compared to forest species, savanna species took longer for their leaf water potentials to drop from predawn values to values corresponding to 50% loss of K (leaf) or to the turgor loss points, suggesting that savanna species were more buffered from changes in leaf water potential. The results of this study suggest that the relative success of savanna over forest species in savanna is related in part to their ability to cope with drought, which is determined more by leaf than by stem hydraulic traits. Variation among genera accounted for a large proportion of the total variance in most traits, which indicates that, despite different selective pressures in savanna and forest habitats, phylogeny has a stronger effect than habitat in determining most hydraulic traits

  6. Drivers of inter-annual variability in Net Ecosystem Exchange in a semi-arid savanna ecosystem, South Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Archibald, S. A.; Kirton, A.; van der Merwe, M. R.; Scholes, R. J.; Williams, C. A.; Hanan, N.

    2009-02-01

    Inter-annual variability in primary production and ecosystem respiration was explored using eddy-covariance data at a semi-arid savanna site in the Kruger Park, South Africa. New methods of extrapolating night-time respiration to the entire day and filling gaps in eddy-covariance data in semi-arid systems were developed. Net ecosystem exchange (NEE) in these systems occurs as pulses associated with rainfall events, a pattern not well-represented in current standard gap-filling procedures developed primarily for temperate flux sites. They furthermore do not take into account the decrease in respiration at high soil temperatures. An artificial neural network (ANN) model incorporating these features predicted measured fluxes accurately (MAE 0.42 gC/m2/day), and was able to represent the seasonal patterns of photosynthesis and respiration at the site. The amount of green leaf area (indexed using satellite-derived estimates of fractional interception of photosynthetically active radiation fAPAR), and the timing and magnitude of rainfall events, were the two most important predictors used in the ANN model. These drivers were also identified by multiple linear regressions (MLR), with strong interactive effects. The annual integral of the filled NEE data was found to range from -138 to +155 g C/m2/y over the 5 year eddy covariance measurement period. When applied to a 25 year time series of meteorological data, the ANN model predicts an annual mean NEE of 75(±105) g C/m2/y. The main correlates of this inter-annual variability were found to be variation in the amount of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (APAR), length of the growing season, and number of days in the year when moisture was available in the soil.

  7. Drivers of interannual variability in Net Ecosystem Exchange in a semi-arid savanna ecosystem, South Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Archibald, S.; Kirton, A.; van der Merwe, M.; Scholes, R. J.; Williams, C. A.; Hanan, N.

    2008-08-01

    Inter-annual variability in primary production and ecosystem respiration was explored using eddy-covariance data at a semi-arid savanna site in the Kruger Park, South Africa. New methods of extrapolating night-time respiration to the entire day and filling gaps in eddy-covariance data in semi-arid systems were developed. Net ecosystem exchange (NEE) in these systems occurs as pulses associated with rainfall events, a pattern not well-represented in current standard gap-filling procedures developed primarily for temperate flux sites. They furthermore do not take into account the decrease in respiration at high soil temperatures. An artificial neural network (ANN) model incorporating these features predicted measured fluxes accurately (MAE 0.42 g C/m2/day), and was able to represent the seasonal patterns of photosynthesis and respiration at the site. The amount of green leaf area (indexed using satellite-derived estimates of fractional interception of photosynthetically active radiation fAPAR), and the timing and magnitude of rainfall events, were the two most important predictors used in the ANN model. These drivers were also identified by multiple linear models (MLR), with strong interactive effects. The annual integral of the filled NEE data was found to range from -138 to +155 g C/m2/y over the 5 year eddy covariance measurement period. When applied to a 25 year time series of meteorological data, the ANN model predicts an annual mean NEE of 75 (±105) g C/m2/y. The main correlates of this inter-annual variability were found to be variation in the amount of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (APAR), length of the growing season, and number of days in the year when moisture was available in the soil.

  8. Multiple Scales of Control on the Structure and Spatial Distribution of Woody Vegetation in African Savanna Watersheds.

    PubMed

    Vaughn, Nicholas R; Asner, Gregory P; Smit, Izak P J; Riddel, Edward S

    2015-01-01

    Factors controlling savanna woody vegetation structure vary at multiple spatial and temporal scales, and as a consequence, unraveling their combined effects has proven to be a classic challenge in savanna ecology. We used airborne LiDAR (light detection and ranging) to map three-dimensional woody vegetation structure throughout four savanna watersheds, each contrasting in geologic substrate and climate, in Kruger National Park, South Africa. By comparison of the four watersheds, we found that geologic substrate had a stronger effect than climate in determining watershed-scale differences in vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density. Generalized Linear Models were used to assess the spatial distribution of woody vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density, in relation to mapped hydrologic, topographic and fire history traits. For each substrate and climate combination, models incorporating topography, hydrology and fire history explained up to 30% of the remaining variation in woody canopy structure, but inclusion of a spatial autocovariate term further improved model performance. Both crown density and the cover of shorter woody canopies were determined more by unknown factors likely to be changing on smaller spatial scales, such as soil texture, herbivore abundance or fire behavior, than by our mapped regional-scale changes in topography and hydrology. We also detected patterns in spatial covariance at distances up to 50-450 m, depending on watershed and structural metric. Our results suggest that large-scale environmental factors play a smaller role than is often attributed to them in determining woody vegetation structure in southern African savannas. This highlights the need for more spatially-explicit, wide-area analyses using high resolution remote sensing techniques. PMID:26660502

  9. Multiple Scales of Control on the Structure and Spatial Distribution of Woody Vegetation in African Savanna Watersheds.

    PubMed

    Vaughn, Nicholas R; Asner, Gregory P; Smit, Izak P J; Riddel, Edward S

    2015-01-01

    Factors controlling savanna woody vegetation structure vary at multiple spatial and temporal scales, and as a consequence, unraveling their combined effects has proven to be a classic challenge in savanna ecology. We used airborne LiDAR (light detection and ranging) to map three-dimensional woody vegetation structure throughout four savanna watersheds, each contrasting in geologic substrate and climate, in Kruger National Park, South Africa. By comparison of the four watersheds, we found that geologic substrate had a stronger effect than climate in determining watershed-scale differences in vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density. Generalized Linear Models were used to assess the spatial distribution of woody vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density, in relation to mapped hydrologic, topographic and fire history traits. For each substrate and climate combination, models incorporating topography, hydrology and fire history explained up to 30% of the remaining variation in woody canopy structure, but inclusion of a spatial autocovariate term further improved model performance. Both crown density and the cover of shorter woody canopies were determined more by unknown factors likely to be changing on smaller spatial scales, such as soil texture, herbivore abundance or fire behavior, than by our mapped regional-scale changes in topography and hydrology. We also detected patterns in spatial covariance at distances up to 50-450 m, depending on watershed and structural metric. Our results suggest that large-scale environmental factors play a smaller role than is often attributed to them in determining woody vegetation structure in southern African savannas. This highlights the need for more spatially-explicit, wide-area analyses using high resolution remote sensing techniques.

  10. Multiple Scales of Control on the Structure and Spatial Distribution of Woody Vegetation in African Savanna Watersheds

    PubMed Central

    Vaughn, Nicholas R.; Asner, Gregory P.; Smit, Izak P. J.; Riddel, Edward S.

    2015-01-01

    Factors controlling savanna woody vegetation structure vary at multiple spatial and temporal scales, and as a consequence, unraveling their combined effects has proven to be a classic challenge in savanna ecology. We used airborne LiDAR (light detection and ranging) to map three-dimensional woody vegetation structure throughout four savanna watersheds, each contrasting in geologic substrate and climate, in Kruger National Park, South Africa. By comparison of the four watersheds, we found that geologic substrate had a stronger effect than climate in determining watershed-scale differences in vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density. Generalized Linear Models were used to assess the spatial distribution of woody vegetation structural properties, including cover, height and crown density, in relation to mapped hydrologic, topographic and fire history traits. For each substrate and climate combination, models incorporating topography, hydrology and fire history explained up to 30% of the remaining variation in woody canopy structure, but inclusion of a spatial autocovariate term further improved model performance. Both crown density and the cover of shorter woody canopies were determined more by unknown factors likely to be changing on smaller spatial scales, such as soil texture, herbivore abundance or fire behavior, than by our mapped regional-scale changes in topography and hydrology. We also detected patterns in spatial covariance at distances up to 50–450 m, depending on watershed and structural metric. Our results suggest that large-scale environmental factors play a smaller role than is often attributed to them in determining woody vegetation structure in southern African savannas. This highlights the need for more spatially-explicit, wide-area analyses using high resolution remote sensing techniques. PMID:26660502

  11. Using remote sensing to create indicators of ecosystem variability for a semi-arid savanna watershed in the Kavango-Zambezi region of Southern Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pricope, Narcisa Gabriela

    This dissertation addresses changes in land and resource availability occurring as a result of climate, water variability and changes in fire regimes in a semi-arid savanna region in Southern Africa. The research combines geospatial analyses of climatological and hydrologic data and various remotely-sensed datasets to create measures of ecosystem variability and adaptability to natural and anthropogenic changes in sensitive ecosystems. The study area is the Chobe River Basin (CRB), a watershed shared between Botswana and Namibia situated at the heart of one of the world.s largest transfrontier conservation areas, where different land-use management strategies and economic policies affect both the ecosystem and the livelihoods support system differentially. The southern African savanna is a highly variable environment and people have adapted to its harshness through the generations. However, in light of past and ongoing environmental changes, their ability to adapt may become threatened. By mapping and then analyzing the spatial and temporal variability of two important factors, namely flooding and fires, in conjunction with indices of vegetation health and productivity, the findings of this research can ultimately contribute to enhancing our understanding of local adaptation mechanisms to future environmental change. This is the first reconstruction of the spatial and temporal patterns of inundation for the last 25 years in the CRB, a transboundary basin with an unusual hydrologic regime and an important water resource for both human and wildlife populations. In the context of increasing temperatures, decreasing precipitation trends and increasing frequencies and intensities of El Nino episodes in southern Africa (Boko et al., 2007), I also investigated changes in fire incidences and marked shifts in fire seasonality both within and outside of protected areas of central Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA). These changes are likely to have a

  12. Nutrient dynamics and plant assemblages of Macrotermes falciger mounds in a savanna ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Muvengwi, Justice; Ndagurwa, Hilton G. T.; Nyenda, Tatenda; Mbiba, Monicah

    2016-10-01

    Termites through mound construction and foraging activities contribute significantly to carbon and nutrient fluxes in nutrient-poor savannas. Despite this recognition, studies on the influence of termite mounds on carbon and nitrogen dynamics in sub-tropical savannas are limited. In this regard, we examined soil nutrient concentrations, organic carbon and nitrogen mineralization in incubation experiments in mounds of Macrotermes falciger and surrounding soils of sub-tropical savanna, northeast Zimbabwe. We also addressed whether termite mounds altered the plant community and if effects were similar across functional groups i.e. grasses, forbs or woody plants. Mound soils had significantly higher silt and clay content, pH and concentrations of calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), potassium (K), organic carbon (C), ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3-) than surrounding soils, with marginal differences in phosphorus (P) and sodium (Na) between mounds and matrix soils. Nutrient enrichment increased by a factor ranging from 1.5 for C, 4.9 for Mg up to 10.3 for Ca. Although C mineralization, nitrification and nitrification fraction were similar between mounds and matrix soils, nitrogen mineralization was elevated on mounds relative to surrounding matrix soils. As a result, termite mounds supported unique plant communities rich and abundant in woody species but less diverse in grasses and forbs than the surrounding savanna matrix in response to mound-induced shifts in soil parameters specifically increased clay content, drainage and water availability, nutrient status and base cation (mainly Ca, Mg and Na) concentration. In conclusion, by altering soil properties such as texture, moisture content and nutrient status, termite mounds can alter the structure and composition of sub-tropical savanna plant communities, and these results are consistent with findings in other savanna systems suggesting that increase in soil clay content, nutrient status and associated changes in the plant

  13. Sources and sinks of methane in the African savanna. CH sub 4 emissions from biomass burning

    SciTech Connect

    Delmas, R.A.; Marenco, A. ); Tathy, J.P.; Cros, B. ); Baudet, J.G.R. )

    1991-04-20

    Sources and sinks of atmospheric methane are studied in savanna regions of west and central Africa. Flux measured over dry savanna soils, using static chambers, is always negative, the average uptake rate being 2 {times} 10{sup 10} molecules/cm{sup 2}/s. In these regions, sources are linked to biomass burning. Methane and CO{sub 2} emission from combustion of savanna plants and wood is studied by both field experiments and laboratory experiments using a combustion chamber. For savanna plants most of the carbon (85%) contained in the biomaterial is volatilized as CO{sub 2} and 0.1 to 0.25% as methane. For graminaceous plants like loudetia simplex the ratio C-CH{sub 4}/C-CO{sub 2} is 0.11%; it is 0.28% for hyparrhenia the other main type of savanna plants and it attains 1.4% for the combustion of wood. In natural fire plumes this ratio is around 0.26% for savanna fires and 0.56 to 2.22% for forest fires. These results show that methane release is highly dependent on the type of combustion. Methane to CO{sub 2} ratios are also studied in vertical profiles in the troposphere taken during the TROPOZ I campaign, an aerial research expedition carried out over west Africa during the bushfire period. Within polluted layers, the average ratio of CH{sub 4} to CO{sub 2} excess over ambient air concentration is 0.34%. These results show that biomass burning in tropical Africa constitutes an important source of atmospheric methane estimated to about 9.2 {times} 10{sup 6} T (CH{sub 4})/yr.

  14. Savannas Ecosystems Services: Local Knowledge On Vulnerability And Adaptation To Climate Change In South-Western Burkina Faso (West Africa)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dimobe, K.; Goetze, D.; Ouédraogo, A.; Thiombiano, A.; Porembski, S.

    2015-12-01

    Local knowledge could form an effective channel and base through which climate change adaptation and mitigation can be realized. This paper uses the context of savannas ecosystem services in Burkina Faso to examine local knowledge and perspectives on the changing trends in vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. The survey targeted farmers, traditional authorities and administrators at the local government level. Semi-structured questionnaires were employed for one-on-one interviews and focused group discussions for data collection. Descriptive statistics and explanatory factor analysis were used to analyze the collected data. A total of 230 farmers, 6 traditional authorities and 5 administrators belonging to 32 villages were interviewed. Most of local people (95.1-96.7%) believe that climate change is occurring, and cited general increases in average temperatures, fluctuating rainfall regimes and extended drought periods as some of their observations. They explain the increasing changes and vulnerability of savannas ecosystems through the longer time spent and distance covered to collect medicinal plants and forest food; decreasing productivity and availability of fodder, fuel wood, forest food and medicinal plant, changing uses of forest food and medicinal plant species. The views of farmers were generally shared by the traditional authorities and administrators. Adaptation actions employed by local communities are tree planting, protection of forestry resources, migration, awareness raising, conservation of soil and water resources.

  15. Age determination by back length for African savanna elephants: extending age assessment techniques for aerial-based surveys.

    PubMed

    Trimble, Morgan J; van Aarde, Rudi J; Ferreira, Sam M; Nørgaard, Camilla F; Fourie, Johan; Lee, Phyllis C; Moss, Cynthia J

    2011-01-01

    Determining the age of individuals in a population can lead to a better understanding of population dynamics through age structure analysis and estimation of age-specific fecundity and survival rates. Shoulder height has been used to accurately assign age to free-ranging African savanna elephants. However, back length may provide an analog measurable in aerial-based surveys. We assessed the relationship between back length and age for known-age elephants in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, and Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. We also compared age- and sex-specific back lengths between these populations and compared adult female back lengths across 11 widely dispersed populations in five African countries. Sex-specific Von Bertalanffy growth curves provided a good fit to the back length data of known-age individuals. Based on back length, accurate ages could be assigned relatively precisely for females up to 23 years of age and males up to 17. The female back length curve allowed more precise age assignment to older females than the curve for shoulder height does, probably because of divergence between the respective growth curves. However, this did not appear to be the case for males, but the sample of known-age males was limited to ≤27 years. Age- and sex-specific back lengths were similar in Amboseli National Park and Addo Elephant National Park. Furthermore, while adult female back lengths in the three Zambian populations were generally shorter than in other populations, back lengths in the remaining eight populations did not differ significantly, in support of claims that growth patterns of African savanna elephants are similar over wide geographic regions. Thus, the growth curves presented here should allow researchers to use aerial-based surveys to assign ages to elephants with greater precision than previously possible and, therefore, to estimate population variables.

  16. Age Determination by Back Length for African Savanna Elephants: Extending Age Assessment Techniques for Aerial-Based Surveys

    PubMed Central

    Trimble, Morgan J.; van Aarde, Rudi J.; Ferreira, Sam M.; Nørgaard, Camilla F.; Fourie, Johan; Lee, Phyllis C.; Moss, Cynthia J.

    2011-01-01

    Determining the age of individuals in a population can lead to a better understanding of population dynamics through age structure analysis and estimation of age-specific fecundity and survival rates. Shoulder height has been used to accurately assign age to free-ranging African savanna elephants. However, back length may provide an analog measurable in aerial-based surveys. We assessed the relationship between back length and age for known-age elephants in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, and Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. We also compared age- and sex-specific back lengths between these populations and compared adult female back lengths across 11 widely dispersed populations in five African countries. Sex-specific Von Bertalanffy growth curves provided a good fit to the back length data of known-age individuals. Based on back length, accurate ages could be assigned relatively precisely for females up to 23 years of age and males up to 17. The female back length curve allowed more precise age assignment to older females than the curve for shoulder height does, probably because of divergence between the respective growth curves. However, this did not appear to be the case for males, but the sample of known-age males was limited to ≤27 years. Age- and sex-specific back lengths were similar in Amboseli National Park and Addo Elephant National Park. Furthermore, while adult female back lengths in the three Zambian populations were generally shorter than in other populations, back lengths in the remaining eight populations did not differ significantly, in support of claims that growth patterns of African savanna elephants are similar over wide geographic regions. Thus, the growth curves presented here should allow researchers to use aerial-based surveys to assign ages to elephants with greater precision than previously possible and, therefore, to estimate population variables. PMID:22028925

  17. Small reservoirs in the West African savanna: Usage, monitoring and impact (Invited)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Van De Giesen, N.; Liebe, J. R.; Annor, F.; Andreini, M.

    2013-12-01

    The West African savanna is dotted with thousands of small reservoirs. These reservoirs were primarily built for irrigation purposes, supplying supplementary irrigation in the rainy season and full irrigation in the dry season. Some reservoirs were specifically constructed for watering cattle. Most reservoirs, however, now fulfill a multitude of functions in addition to irrigation and cattle watering, such as fishing, bathing, household water, supply of construction materials, and recreation. In the framework of the Small Reservoirs Project (www.smallreservoirs.org), extensive research has been undertaken over the past ten years that addresses the functioning of these reservoirs and the development of new monitoring methods. This presentation will give a general overview of our findings with respect to history, usage, and hydrological impact of small reservoirs in West Africa. In general, no comprehensive databases are available to local and national governments that contain all reservoirs and their attributes. Remote sensing, therefore, offers an interesting alternative to produce inventories of small reservoirs in a cost effective way. The most straightforward application is the mapping of small reservoirs with the aid of optical satellite images. Open water tends to stand out clearly from its surroundings in such images, allowing for relatively accurate determination of the location and surface area of the reservoirs. An important early discovery was that within a given geomorphological region, there is a very good correlation between surface area and storage volume. Once this correlation is established through a small sub-sample of the reservoirs, all volumes can be calculated on the basis of surfaces as determined through remote sensing. In turn, this opens up the opportunity to monitor water storage over the year by means of satellite images. Optical images are usually not available during large parts of the year due to cloud cover. This holds especially true

  18. Topo-edaphic Controls over Woody Biomass in South African Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Colgan, M.; Asner, G. P.; Levick, S. R.

    2009-12-01

    The influence of substrate type on woody plant growth is well documented in the granite and basalt savannas of Kruger National Park, South Africa. Over the past two decades field studies and airborne photography have shown the gradually undulating granitic landscapes support higher woody cover than the basaltic plains. Yet nested within these broader trends are significant variations in biomass at the hillslope scale (0.5-1km), and it is debated to what extent the gradual slopes and subtle relief exert a catena influence on woody biomass. These trends have been qualitatively observed in the field, especially on the granite substrates, but drawing clear correlations between vegetation and terrain is hampered in the field by limited visibility due to relatively gradual (1-2°) and long (hundreds of meters) hillslopes. Here airborne LiDAR reveals clear, quantifiable biomass trends at the hillslope spatial scale and at the resolution (~1m) necessary to resolve the heterogeneity inherent in an open-canopy system. Our aim is to investigate the importance of hillslope topographic and soil properties in controlling woody biomass relative to regional differences in parent material. Aboveground woody biomass (AGWB) was estimated using airborne LiDAR over seven sites in Kruger National Park (KNP) in April-May 2008. Sites were selected to encompass the park’s range of substrate types, as well as variation in precipitation, topography, and dominant vegetation types. Throughout these seven sites 202 field plots were collected during the same period to inform and validate airborne biomass estimates. Basal diameter, height, and species of 4,500+ trees spanning 50+ woody species were recorded, and existing field allometry was applied to estimate dry AGWB. When regressed individually, canopy height and canopy cover each explained approximately the same variation in biomass (R2=0.60). Using canopy cover from three height classes significantly improved goodness of fit (R2=0.80) and

  19. Plant community response to loss of large herbivores differs between North American and South African savanna grasslands.

    PubMed

    Koerner, Sally E; Burkepile, Deron E; Fynn, Richard W S; Burns, Catherine E; Eby, Stephanie; Govender, Navashni; Hagenah, Nicole; Matchett, Katherine J; Thompson, Dave I; Wilcox, Kevin R; Collins, Scott L; Kirkman, Kevin P; Knapp, Alan K; Smith, Melinda D

    2014-04-01

    Herbivory and fire shape plant community structure in grass-dominated ecosystems, but these disturbance regimes are being altered around the world. To assess the consequences of such alterations, we excluded large herbivores for seven years from mesic savanna grasslands sites burned at different frequencies in North America (Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas, USA) and South Africa (Kruger National Park). We hypothesized that the removal of a single grass-feeding herbivore from Konza would decrease plant community richness and shift community composition due to increased dominance by grasses. Similarly, we expected grass dominance to increase at Kruger when removing large herbivores, but because large herbivores are more diverse, targeting both grasses and forbs, at this study site, the changes due to herbivore removal would be muted. After seven years of large-herbivore exclusion, richness strongly decreased and community composition changed at Konza, whereas little change was evident at Kruger. We found that this divergence in response was largely due to differences in the traits and numbers of dominant grasses between the study sites rather than the predicted differences in herbivore assemblages. Thus, the diversity of large herbivores lost may be less important in determining plant community dynamics than the functional traits of the grasses that dominate mesic, disturbance-maintained savanna grasslands.

  20. Deriving seasonal dynamics in ecosystem properties of semi-arid savannas using in situ based hyperspectral reflectance

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tagesson, T.; Fensholt, R.; Huber, S.; Horion, S.; Guiro, I.; Ehammer, A.; Ardö, J.

    2015-02-01

    This paper investigates how seasonal hyperspectral reflectance data (between 350 and 1800 nm) can be used to infer ecosystem properties for a semi-arid savanna ecosystem in West Africa using a unique in situ based dataset. Relationships between seasonal dynamics in hyperspectral reflectance, and ecosystem properties (biomass, gross primary productivity (GPP), light use efficiency (LUE), and fraction of photosynthetically active radiation absorbed by vegetation (FAPAR)) were analysed. Reflectance data (ρ) were used to study the relationship between normalised difference spectral indices (NDSI) and the measured ecosystem properties. Finally, also the effects of variable sun sensor viewing geometry on different NDSI wavelength combinations were analysed. The wavelengths with the strongest correlation to seasonal dynamics in ecosystem properties were shortwave infrared (biomass), the peak absorption band for chlorophyll a and b (at 682 nm) (GPP), the oxygen A-band at 761 nm used for estimating chlorophyll fluorescence (GPP, and LUE), and blue wavelengths (FAPAR). The NDSI with the strongest correlation to: (i) biomass combined red edge reflectance (ρ705) with green reflectance (ρ587), (ii) GPP combined wavelengths at the peak of green reflection (ρ518, ρ556), (iii) the LUE combined red (ρ688) with blue reflectance (ρ436), and (iv) FAPAR combined blue (ρ399) and near infrared (ρ1295) wavelengths. NDSI combining near infrared and shortwave infrared were strongly affected by solar zenith angles and sensor viewing geometry, as were many combinations of visible wavelengths. This study provides analyses based upon novel multi-angular hyperspectral data for validation of Earth Observation based properties of semi-arid ecosystems, as well as insights for designing spectral characteristics of future sensors for ecosystem monitoring.

  1. Deriving seasonal dynamics in ecosystem properties of semi-arid savanna grasslands from in situ-based hyperspectral reflectance

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tagesson, T.; Fensholt, R.; Huber, S.; Horion, S.; Guiro, I.; Ehammer, A.; Ardo, J.

    2015-08-01

    This paper investigates how hyperspectral reflectance (between 350 and 1800 nm) can be used to infer ecosystem properties for a semi-arid savanna grassland in West Africa using a unique in situ-based multi-angular data set of hemispherical conical reflectance factor (HCRF) measurements. Relationships between seasonal dynamics in hyperspectral HCRF and ecosystem properties (biomass, gross primary productivity (GPP), light use efficiency (LUE), and fraction of photosynthetically active radiation absorbed by vegetation (FAPAR)) were analysed. HCRF data (ρ) were used to study the relationship between normalised difference spectral indices (NDSIs) and the measured ecosystem properties. Finally, the effects of variable sun sensor viewing geometry on different NDSI wavelength combinations were analysed. The wavelengths with the strongest correlation to seasonal dynamics in ecosystem properties were shortwave infrared (biomass), the peak absorption band for chlorophyll a and b (at 682 nm) (GPP), the oxygen A band at 761 nm used for estimating chlorophyll fluorescence (GPP and LUE), and blue wavelengths (ρ412) (FAPAR). The NDSI with the strongest correlation to (i) biomass combined red-edge HCRF (ρ705) with green HCRF (ρ587), (ii) GPP combined wavelengths at the peak of green reflection (ρ518, ρ556), (iii) LUE combined red (ρ688) with blue HCRF (ρ436), and (iv) FAPAR combined blue (ρ399) and near-infrared (ρ1295) wavelengths. NDSIs combining near infrared and shortwave infrared were strongly affected by solar zenith angles and sensor viewing geometry, as were many combinations of visible wavelengths. This study provides analyses based upon novel multi-angular hyperspectral data for validation of Earth-observation-based properties of semi-arid ecosystems, as well as insights for designing spectral characteristics of future sensors for ecosystem monitoring.

  2. Predicting the Effects of Woody Encroachment on Mammal Communities, Grazing Biomass and Fire Frequency in African Savannas

    PubMed Central

    Smit, Izak P. J.; Prins, Herbert H. T.

    2015-01-01

    With grasslands and savannas covering 20% of the world’s land surface, accounting for 30–35% of worldwide Net Primary Productivity and supporting hundreds of millions of people, predicting changes in tree/grass systems is priority. Inappropriate land management and rising atmospheric CO2 levels result in increased woody cover in savannas. Although woody encroachment occurs world-wide, Africa’s tourism and livestock grazing industries may be particularly vulnerable. Forecasts of responses of African wildlife and available grazing biomass to increases in woody cover are thus urgently needed. These predictions are hard to make due to non-linear responses and poorly understood feedback mechanisms between woody cover and other ecological responders, problems further amplified by the lack of long-term and large-scale datasets. We propose that a space-for-time analysis along an existing woody cover gradient overcomes some of these forecasting problems. Here we show, using an existing woody cover gradient (0–65%) across the Kruger National Park, South Africa, that increased woody cover is associated with (i) changed herbivore assemblage composition, (ii) reduced grass biomass, and (iii) reduced fire frequency. Furthermore, although increased woody cover is associated with reduced livestock production, we found indigenous herbivore biomass (excluding elephants) remains unchanged between 20–65% woody cover. This is due to a significant reorganization in the herbivore assemblage composition, mostly as a result of meso-grazers being substituted by browsers at increasing woody cover. Our results suggest that woody encroachment will have cascading consequences for Africa’s grazing systems, fire regimes and iconic wildlife. These effects will pose challenges and require adaptation of livelihoods and industries dependent on conditions currently prevailing. PMID:26379249

  3. Predicting the Effects of Woody Encroachment on Mammal Communities, Grazing Biomass and Fire Frequency in African Savannas.

    PubMed

    Smit, Izak P J; Prins, Herbert H T

    2015-01-01

    With grasslands and savannas covering 20% of the world's land surface, accounting for 30-35% of worldwide Net Primary Productivity and supporting hundreds of millions of people, predicting changes in tree/grass systems is priority. Inappropriate land management and rising atmospheric CO2 levels result in increased woody cover in savannas. Although woody encroachment occurs world-wide, Africa's tourism and livestock grazing industries may be particularly vulnerable. Forecasts of responses of African wildlife and available grazing biomass to increases in woody cover are thus urgently needed. These predictions are hard to make due to non-linear responses and poorly understood feedback mechanisms between woody cover and other ecological responders, problems further amplified by the lack of long-term and large-scale datasets. We propose that a space-for-time analysis along an existing woody cover gradient overcomes some of these forecasting problems. Here we show, using an existing woody cover gradient (0-65%) across the Kruger National Park, South Africa, that increased woody cover is associated with (i) changed herbivore assemblage composition, (ii) reduced grass biomass, and (iii) reduced fire frequency. Furthermore, although increased woody cover is associated with reduced livestock production, we found indigenous herbivore biomass (excluding elephants) remains unchanged between 20-65% woody cover. This is due to a significant reorganization in the herbivore assemblage composition, mostly as a result of meso-grazers being substituted by browsers at increasing woody cover. Our results suggest that woody encroachment will have cascading consequences for Africa's grazing systems, fire regimes and iconic wildlife. These effects will pose challenges and require adaptation of livelihoods and industries dependent on conditions currently prevailing.

  4. Native and domestic browsers and grazers reduce fuels, fire temperatures, and acacia ant mortality in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Kimuyu, Duncan M; Sensenig, Ryan L; Riginos, Corinna; Veblen, Kari E; Young, Truman P

    2014-06-01

    interactions between fire and herbivory in savanna ecosystems.

  5. Invasive C4 Perennial Grass Alters Net Ecosystem Exchange in Mixed C3/C4 Savanna Grassland

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Basham, T. S.; Litvak, M.

    2006-12-01

    The invasion of ecosystems by non-native plants that differ from native plants in physiological characteristics and phenology has the potential to alter ecosystem function. In Texas and other regions of the southern central plains of the United States, the introduced C4 perennial grass, Bothriochloa ischaemum, invades C3/C4 mixed grasslands and savannas, resulting in decreased plant community diversity (Gabbard 2003; Harmoney et al 2004). The objective of this study was to quantify how the conversion of these mixed grass communities to C4 dominated, B. ischaemum monocultures impacts carbon cycling and sequestration. Seasonal measurements of Net Ecosystem Exchange (NEE) of CO2, leaf level gas exchange and soil respiration were compared between savanna grassland plots composed of either naturally occurring B. ischaemum monocultures or native mixed grasses (n=16). NEE was measured using a closed system chamber that attached to permanently installed stainless steel bases. Temperature, soil moisture, aerial percent species cover and leaf area index were also monitored in plots to explain variability in measured responses. Results showed that NEE differed seasonally between invaded and native plots due to 1) greater leaf surface area per unit ground area in invaded plots, 2) differences in phenological patterns of plant activity and 3) differences in responses to water limitation between invaded and native plots. Cold season and summer drought NEE were driven primarily by belowground respiration in both plot types, however spring uptake activity commenced two months later in invaded plots. This later start in invaded plots was compensated for by greater uptake throughout the growing season and in particular during the drier summer months. Differences in NEE between plot types were not due to differences in soil respiration nor were they due to greater leaf level photosynthetic capabilities of B. ischaemum relative to the dominant native grasses. NEE, soil respiration and

  6. Indirect effects of domestic and wild herbivores on butterflies in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Wilkerson, Marit L; Roche, Leslie M; Young, Truman P

    2013-10-01

    Indirect interactions driven by livestock and wild herbivores are increasingly recognized as important aspects of community dynamics in savannas and rangelands. Large ungulate herbivores can both directly and indirectly impact the reproductive structures of plants, which in turn can affect the pollinators of those plants. We examined how wild herbivores and cattle each indirectly affect the abundance of a common pollinator butterfly taxon, Colotis spp., at a set of long-term, large herbivore exclosure plots in a semiarid savanna in central Kenya. We also examined effects of herbivore exclusion on the main food plant of Colotis spp., which was also the most common flowering species in our plots: the shrub Cadaba farinosa. The study was conducted in four types of experimental plots: cattle-only, wildlife-only, cattle and wildlife (all large herbivores), and no large herbivores. Across all plots, Colotis spp. abundances were positively correlated with both Cadaba flower numbers (adult food resources) and total Cadaba canopy area (larval food resources). Structural equation modeling (SEM) revealed that floral resources drove the abundance of Colotis butterflies. Excluding browsing wildlife increased the abundances of both Cadaba flowers and Colotis butterflies. However, flower numbers and Colotis spp. abundances were greater in plots with cattle herbivory than in plots that excluded all large herbivores. Our results suggest that wild browsing herbivores can suppress pollinator species whereas well-managed cattle use may benefit important pollinators and the plants that depend on them. This study documents a novel set of ecological interactions that demonstrate how both conservation and livelihood goals can be met in a working landscape with abundant wildlife and livestock.

  7. The Use of Bayesian Modeling to Assess the Impact of Altered Precipitation on Leaf-level Carbon Exchange in Four Desert Savanna Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Patrick, L.; Ogle, K.; Tissue, D.; Cable, J.

    2007-12-01

    Savannas are complex ecosystems with diverse plant communities and spatially variable nutrient and carbon dynamics. In semi-arid regions, savannas are rapidly changing as a result of climate change and/or land-use, both of which have the potential to alter carbon cycling processes. To determine the potential impacts of climate change on savanna systems, it is critical to understand the processes governing vegetation dynamics across the diverse range of savanna ecosystem types. Because water is the primary driver of biological activity in these ecosystems, changes in precipitation frequency and magnitude may significantly affect plant community composition and ecosystem carbon cycling through effects on leaf-level carbon dynamics. Here, we utilized photosynthesis data and models to explore the underlying mechanisms responsible for changes in leaf-level carbon exchange under altered precipitation. Our objective was to determine whether dominant plants in four North American deserts exhibited a common photosynthetic response to precipitation manipulations. In the summer of 2005 and 2006, photosynthetic CO2- and light-response curves were measured on the dominant plant functional groups (grasses and shrubs) in the Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts. We used a hierarchical Bayesian modeling framework to integrate the extensive field data with a biochemical-based photosynthesis model, yielding estimates of photosynthetic parameters (e.g. rate of daytime respiration, maximum rate of carboxylation, and maximum rate of electron transport). The modeling results indicated that, generally, plant photosynthesis parameters were conserved across all desert sites and plant species. There is, however, evidence that supplemental precipitation affected photosynthetic responses as some species differed in key biochemical parameters under this treatment. This result suggests that in these ecosystems changes in precipitation associated with climate change have the

  8. Integrating water and carbon fluxes at the ecosystem scale across African ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Merbold, Lutz; Brümmer, Christian; Archibald, Sally; Ardö, Jonas; Arneth, Almut; Brüggemann, Nicolas; de Grandcourt, Agnes; Kergoat, Laurent; Moffat, Antje M.; Mougin, Eric; Nouvellon, Yann; Saint-Andre, Laurent; Saunders, Matthew; Scholes, Robert J.; Veenendaal, Elmar; Kutsch, Werner L.

    2013-04-01

    In this study we report on water and carbon dioxide fluxes, measured using the eddy covariance (EC) technology, from different ecosystems in Sub-Saharan Africa. These sites differed in ecosystem type (C3 plant dominated woodlands to C4 plant dominated grass savannas) and covered the very dry regions of the Sahel (250 mm rainfall, Sudan), the tropical areas in Central Africa (1650 mm in Uganda) further south to the subtropical areas in Botswana, Zambia and South Africa (400-900 mm in precipitation). The link between water and carbon dioxide fluxes were evaluated for time periods (see also the corresponding abstract by Bruemmer et al.) without water limitation during the peak growing season. Our results show that plant stomata control ecosystem scale water and carbon dioxide fluxes and mediate between plant growth and plant survival. On continental scale, this switch between maximizing carbon uptake and minimizing water losses, from here on called the "Carbon-Water-Tipping Point" was positively correlated to the mean annual growing season temperature at each site. Even though similar responses of plants were shown at the individual leaf-level scale this has to our knowledge not yet been shown at the ecosystem scale further suggesting a long-term adaptation of the complete ecosystems to certain climatic regions. It remains unclear how this adaption will influence the ecosystem response to ongoing climate change and according temperature increases and changes in precipitation.

  9. Tree foliar chemistry in an African savanna and its relation to life history strategies and environmental filters.

    PubMed

    Colgan, Matthew S; Martin, Roberta E; Baldeck, Claire A; Asner, Gregory P

    2015-01-01

    Understanding the relative importance of environment and life history strategies in determining leaf chemical traits remains a key objective of plant ecology. We assessed 20 foliar chemical properties among 12 African savanna woody plant species and their relation to environmental variables (hillslope position, precipitation, geology) and two functional traits (thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism). We found that combinations of six leaf chemical traits (lignin, hemi-cellulose, zinc, boron, magnesium, and manganese) predicted the species with 91% accuracy. Hillslope position, precipitation, and geology accounted for only 12% of the total variance in these six chemical traits. However, thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism accounted for 46% of variance in these chemical traits. The physically defended species had the highest concentrations of hemi-cellulose and boron. Species without physical defense had the highest lignin content if dispersed by vertebrates, but threefold lower lignin content if dispersed by wind. One of the most abundant woody species in southern Africa, Colophospermum mopane, was found to have the highest foliar concentrations of zinc, phosphorus, and δ(13)C, suggesting that zinc chelation may be used by this species to bind metallic toxins and increase uptake of soil phosphorus. Across all studied species, taxonomy and physical traits accounted for the majority of variability in leaf chemistry. PMID:25993539

  10. Tree foliar chemistry in an African savanna and its relation to life history strategies and environmental filters.

    PubMed

    Colgan, Matthew S; Martin, Roberta E; Baldeck, Claire A; Asner, Gregory P

    2015-01-01

    Understanding the relative importance of environment and life history strategies in determining leaf chemical traits remains a key objective of plant ecology. We assessed 20 foliar chemical properties among 12 African savanna woody plant species and their relation to environmental variables (hillslope position, precipitation, geology) and two functional traits (thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism). We found that combinations of six leaf chemical traits (lignin, hemi-cellulose, zinc, boron, magnesium, and manganese) predicted the species with 91% accuracy. Hillslope position, precipitation, and geology accounted for only 12% of the total variance in these six chemical traits. However, thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism accounted for 46% of variance in these chemical traits. The physically defended species had the highest concentrations of hemi-cellulose and boron. Species without physical defense had the highest lignin content if dispersed by vertebrates, but threefold lower lignin content if dispersed by wind. One of the most abundant woody species in southern Africa, Colophospermum mopane, was found to have the highest foliar concentrations of zinc, phosphorus, and δ(13)C, suggesting that zinc chelation may be used by this species to bind metallic toxins and increase uptake of soil phosphorus. Across all studied species, taxonomy and physical traits accounted for the majority of variability in leaf chemistry.

  11. Tree Foliar Chemistry in an African Savanna and Its Relation to Life History Strategies and Environmental Filters

    PubMed Central

    Colgan, Matthew S.; Martin, Roberta E.; Baldeck, Claire A.; Asner, Gregory P.

    2015-01-01

    Understanding the relative importance of environment and life history strategies in determining leaf chemical traits remains a key objective of plant ecology. We assessed 20 foliar chemical properties among 12 African savanna woody plant species and their relation to environmental variables (hillslope position, precipitation, geology) and two functional traits (thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism). We found that combinations of six leaf chemical traits (lignin, hemi-cellulose, zinc, boron, magnesium, and manganese) predicted the species with 91% accuracy. Hillslope position, precipitation, and geology accounted for only 12% of the total variance in these six chemical traits. However, thorn type and seed dispersal mechanism accounted for 46% of variance in these chemical traits. The physically defended species had the highest concentrations of hemi-cellulose and boron. Species without physical defense had the highest lignin content if dispersed by vertebrates, but threefold lower lignin content if dispersed by wind. One of the most abundant woody species in southern Africa, Colophospermum mopane, was found to have the highest foliar concentrations of zinc, phosphorus, and δ13C, suggesting that zinc chelation may be used by this species to bind metallic toxins and increase uptake of soil phosphorus. Across all studied species, taxonomy and physical traits accounted for the majority of variability in leaf chemistry. PMID:25993539

  12. Modeling the Distribution of African Savanna Elephants in Kruger National Park: AN Application of Multi-Scale GLOBELAND30 Data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Xu, W.; Hays, B.; Fayrer-Hosken, R.; Presotto, A.

    2016-06-01

    The ability of remote sensing to represent ecologically relevant features at multiple spatial scales makes it a powerful tool for studying wildlife distributions. Species of varying sizes perceive and interact with their environment at differing scales; therefore, it is important to consider the role of spatial resolution of remotely sensed data in the creation of distribution models. The release of the Globeland30 land cover classification in 2014, with its 30 m resolution, presents the opportunity to do precisely that. We created a series of Maximum Entropy distribution models for African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) using Globeland30 data analyzed at varying resolutions. We compared these with similarly re-sampled models created from the European Space Agency's Global Land Cover Map (Globcover). These data, in combination with GIS layers of topography and distance to roads, human activity, and water, as well as elephant GPS collar data, were used with MaxEnt software to produce the final distribution models. The AUC (Area Under the Curve) scores indicated that the models created from 600 m data performed better than other spatial resolutions and that the Globeland30 models generally performed better than the Globcover models. Additionally, elevation and distance to rivers seemed to be the most important variables in our models. Our results demonstrate that Globeland30 is a valid alternative to the well-established Globcover for creating wildlife distribution models. It may even be superior for applications which require higher spatial resolution and less nuanced classifications.

  13. Seasonal variation in energy balance and canopy conductance for a tropical savanna ecosystem of south-central Mato Grosso, Brazil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rodrigues, T. R.; Vourlitis, G. L.; Lobo, F. D.; de Oliveira, R. G.; Nogueira, J. D.

    2013-12-01

    Tropical savanna (locally known as cerrado) comprises 24% of Brazil and is characterized by high temporal (climatic) and spatial (land cover) variation, biodiversity, and human activity. However, temporal variations in energy exchange are poorly understood, especially for mixed-grasslands (locally known as campo-sujo), making current and future patterns of energy balance highly uncertain. We used eddy covariance to measure latent (Le) and sensible (H) heat flux of a mixed-grassland, and linked meteorological and remote-sensing data to determine the controls on these fluxes. We hypothesized that (1) seasonal variations in H and Le would be large due to variations in precipitation, (2) ecosystem phenology, estimated using the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI), would be the best predictor of seasonal variation in Le, and (3) cerrado, transitional, and humid evergreen forests would have similar rates of average annual Le despite large seasonal variation in cerrado Le. We found that campo-sujo exhibits large seasonal fluctuations in energy balance that are driven by rainfall, and that responses to rainfall pulses are rapid and dynamic, especially during the dry season. Seasonal variations in the EVI did not affect energy fluxes; however, when energy fluxes were normalized with net radiation (Rn), the EVI was found to significantly affect the amount of available energy dissipated by H, Le, and G, indicating an important ground surface feedback on energy partitioning. Compared to other tropical ecosystems, cerrado exhibited substantially more seasonal variation in energy flux density than forested tropical ecosystems. For example, cerrado had lower rates of Le during the dry season, due to water limitations, but higher rates of wet-season Le than tropical forests, which were likely limited by radiation due to frequent cloud cover. Overall, these seasonal variations caused average annual rates of Le to be similar between cerrado, transitional, and humid evergreen forests.

  14. Bayesian Inversion of Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Interactions for an Oak-Savanna Ecosystem Using Markov Chain Monte Carlo Method

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chen, X.; Rubin, Y.; Baldocchi, D. D.

    2005-12-01

    Understanding the interactions between soil, plant, and the atmosphere under water-stressed conditions is important for ecosystems where water availability is limited. In such ecosystems, the amount of water transferred from the soil to the atmosphere is controlled not only by weather conditions and vegetation type but also by soil water availability. Although researchers have proposed different approaches to model the impact of soil moisture on plant activities, the parameters involved are difficult to measure. However, using measurements of observed latent heat and carbon fluxes, as well as soil moisture data, Bayesian inversion methods can be employed to estimate the various model parameters. In our study, actual Evapotranspiration (ET) of an ecosystem is approximated by the Priestley-Taylor relationship, with the Priestley-Taylor coefficient modeled as a function of soil moisture content. Soil moisture limitation on root uptake is characterized in a similar manner as the Feddes' model. The inference of Bayesian inversion is processed within the framework of graphical theories. Due to the difficulty of obtaining exact inference, the Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method is implemented using a free software package, BUGS (Bayesian inference Using Gibbs Sampling). The proposed methodology is applied to a Mediterranean Oak-Savanna FLUXNET site in California, where continuous measurements of actual ET are obtained from eddy-covariance technique and soil moisture contents are monitored by several time domain reflectometry probes located within the footprint of the flux tower. After the implementation of Bayesian inversion, the posterior distributions of all the parameters exhibit enhancement in information compared to the prior distributions. The generated samples based on data in year 2003 are used to predict the actual ET in year 2004 and the prediction uncertainties are assessed in terms of confidence intervals. Our tests also reveal the usefulness of various

  15. Habitat Heterogeneity Variably Influences Habitat Selection by Wild Herbivores in a Semi-Arid Tropical Savanna Ecosystem

    PubMed Central

    Muposhi, Victor K.; Gandiwa, Edson; Chemura, Abel; Bartels, Paul; Makuza, Stanley M.; Madiri, Tinaapi H.

    2016-01-01

    An understanding of the habitat selection patterns by wild herbivores is critical for adaptive management, particularly towards ecosystem management and wildlife conservation in semi arid savanna ecosystems. We tested the following predictions: (i) surface water availability, habitat quality and human presence have a strong influence on the spatial distribution of wild herbivores in the dry season, (ii) habitat suitability for large herbivores would be higher compared to medium-sized herbivores in the dry season, and (iii) spatial extent of suitable habitats for wild herbivores will be different between years, i.e., 2006 and 2010, in Matetsi Safari Area, Zimbabwe. MaxEnt modeling was done to determine the habitat suitability of large herbivores and medium-sized herbivores. MaxEnt modeling of habitat suitability for large herbivores using the environmental variables was successful for the selected species in 2006 and 2010, except for elephant (Loxodonta africana) for the year 2010. Overall, large herbivores probability of occurrence was mostly influenced by distance from rivers. Distance from roads influenced much of the variability in the probability of occurrence of medium-sized herbivores. The overall predicted area for large and medium-sized herbivores was not different. Large herbivores may not necessarily utilize larger habitat patches over medium-sized herbivores due to the habitat homogenizing effect of water provisioning. Effect of surface water availability, proximity to riverine ecosystems and roads on habitat suitability of large and medium-sized herbivores in the dry season was highly variable thus could change from one year to another. We recommend adaptive management initiatives aimed at ensuring dynamic water supply in protected areas through temporal closure and or opening of water points to promote heterogeneity of wildlife habitats. PMID:27680673

  16. Root distribution in a California semi-arid oak savanna ecosystem as determined by conventional sampling and ground penetrating radar

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Koteen, L. E.; Raz-Yaseef, N.; Baldocchi, D. D.

    2011-12-01

    Koteen, Laura E., Raz-Yaseef, Naama, and Dennis D. Baldocchi University of California, Berkeley California's blue oak, Quercus douglasii, is a unique tree in several ways. Despite the intense heat of California's central valley and Sierra foothills, and absence of precipitation during dry summer months, blue oaks are winter deciduous, and rely on a suite of drought adaptation measures for highly-efficient water use. To date, much more is known about aboveground dynamics in semi-arid oak savanna ecosystems than belowground. Yet, the root system is instrumental in ensuring oak survival and in determining the magnitude and timing of land-atmospheric fluxes via its control of water and nutrient supply to aboveground processes and soil moisture content. Tree root distribution is notoriously heterogeneous. Therefore a comprehensive sampling effort is needed in order to optimally represent it. To further understand the patterns of water use in oak savanna ecosystems in the Sierra foothills of California, we have sought to characterize the root system by depth. To accomplish this goal, we have sampled the root system using conventional sampling methods (i.e. pit and core sampling), in conjunction with ground penetrating radar (GPR). Using both methods together made it possible to compensate for the limitations of each: Fine roots can only be detected by conventional sampling, and involve time intensive work in the lab, limiting sample size. GPR, on the other hand, allows for much greater spatial coverage and therefore more comprehensive characterization of the coarse root component. An extensive field campaign was executed during May 2011. 7 tree areas where chosen, representing the range of tree sizes and composition at the research site: 2 small trees, 2 large trees and 2 tree clusters. One additional very large tree that has undergone extensive additional physiological measurements was also chosen in order to posit and test hypotheses about linkages among root, soil

  17. Trace gas emissions to the atmosphere by biomass burning in the west African savannas. Final report, 1 October 1991-31 March 1994

    SciTech Connect

    Frouin, R.J.; Iacobellis, S.F.; Razafimpanilo, H.; Somerville, R.C.J.

    1994-08-01

    Savanna fires and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) detection and estimating burned area using Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) reflectance data are investigated in this two part research project. The first part involves carbon dioxide flux estimates and a three-dimensional transport model to quantify the effect of North African savanna fires on atmospheric CO2 concentration, including CO2 spatial and temporal variability patterns and their significance to global emissions. The second article describes two methods used to determine burned area from AVHRR data. The article discusses the relationship between the percentage of burned area and AVHRR channel 2 reflectance (the linear method) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) (the nonlinear method). A comparative performance analysis of each method is described.

  18. Savanna domain in the herbivores-fire parameter space exploiting a tree-grass-soil water dynamic model.

    PubMed

    De Michele, C; Accatino, F; Vezzoli, R; Scholes, R J

    2011-11-21

    The tree-grass co-existence in savannas involves multiple and sometimes connected biogeophysical conditions. The savanna domain, its boundaries, and transitions (gradual or abrupt) to other vegetation types (i.e., grassland or forest) are fundamental for the management of ecosystems and for preserving the biodiversity in present conditions and in future changing scenarios. Here we investigate the savanna domain within grazers-fire and browsers-fire parameter planes through a simple ecohydrological model of tree-grass-soil water dynamics. Stability maps allow to identify savanna domains and to show the behavior of vegetation under increasing pressure of grazing and browsing. Stability maps shed light on the causes behind possible vegetation abrupt transitions (e.g., forest collapse and bush encroachment). An application to 15 African savannas sites is presented and discussed with the support of a local sensitivity analysis of the model's parameters. PMID:21875600

  19. FATAL ENCEPHALOMYOCARDITIS VIRUS INFECTION IN AN AFRICAN SAVANNA ELEPHANT (LOXODONTA AFRICANA) IN A FRENCH ZOO.

    PubMed

    Lamglait, Benjamin; Joris, Antoine; Romey, Aurore; Bakkali-Kassimi, Labib; Lemberger, Karin

    2015-06-01

    A fatal case of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) involving an African elephant ( Loxodonta africana ) occurred in November 2013 at the Réserve Africaine de Sigean, France. An adult female was found dead without any preliminary symptoms. Gross pathologic changes consisted of petechiae and hemorrhages on mucosae and internal organs, abundant transudate in the abdominal and pericardial cavities, and myocarditis. Histopathologic examination showed extensive degeneration and necrosis of ventricular cardiomyocytes with concurrent lymphoplasmocytic and eosinophilic infiltrate. An EMCV was isolated from several organs and considered the causative agent of the myocarditis. The same strain of virus was also isolated in rodents captured on zoo premises and considered to be the reservoir of the virus. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first EMCV case in a captive African elephant in Europe.

  20. A spatio-temporal analysis of fire recurrence and extent for semi-arid savanna ecosystems in Southern Africa using moderate-resolution satellite imagery.

    PubMed

    Pricope, Narcisa G; Binford, Michael W

    2012-06-15

    Savanna ecosystems are semi-arid and fire-prone. Increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation in Southern Africa will probably have a series of strong impacts on the various components of fire regimes in these ecosystems that will, in turn, affect their ecology, structure, and function. This paper presents a geospatial analysis to quantify changes in fire frequency, seasonality and spatial distribution during the last decade and creates a fire return interval map for the core area of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which spans five Southern African countries and is the largest cooperative multistate conservation region in the world. To disentangle the relative contribution of environmental variability from country-specific land management decisions in driving changes in fire regimes, we use two different products from the MODIS Terra platform (Active Fire and Burned Area products), TRMM precipitation data and the Multivariate ENSO Index data to analyze change in fire regimes among the five countries, differentiating between different land uses such as protected areas, forest reserves, and communal lands and accounting for specific changes in fire management policies. There are significant differences in fire frequencies between countries with more effective fire management (Botswana and Zimbabwe) and countries where anthropogenic, mainly early-dry season, burning is largely uncontrolled (Namibia, Angola, and Zambia), both within and outside protected areas, while all countries and land-use units show an overall increasing trend in fire occurrences. Large fire occurrences increased up to 200% in the period before the beginning of the natural fire season in Namibia, where a new prescribed burn policy was introduced in 2006, while the other countries show a slightly different shift in seasonality of increasing fire occurrences mainly during the dry season. The mean size of fires also increases significantly across all land uses despite

  1. A spatio-temporal analysis of fire recurrence and extent for semi-arid savanna ecosystems in Southern Africa using moderate-resolution satellite imagery.

    PubMed

    Pricope, Narcisa G; Binford, Michael W

    2012-06-15

    Savanna ecosystems are semi-arid and fire-prone. Increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation in Southern Africa will probably have a series of strong impacts on the various components of fire regimes in these ecosystems that will, in turn, affect their ecology, structure, and function. This paper presents a geospatial analysis to quantify changes in fire frequency, seasonality and spatial distribution during the last decade and creates a fire return interval map for the core area of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which spans five Southern African countries and is the largest cooperative multistate conservation region in the world. To disentangle the relative contribution of environmental variability from country-specific land management decisions in driving changes in fire regimes, we use two different products from the MODIS Terra platform (Active Fire and Burned Area products), TRMM precipitation data and the Multivariate ENSO Index data to analyze change in fire regimes among the five countries, differentiating between different land uses such as protected areas, forest reserves, and communal lands and accounting for specific changes in fire management policies. There are significant differences in fire frequencies between countries with more effective fire management (Botswana and Zimbabwe) and countries where anthropogenic, mainly early-dry season, burning is largely uncontrolled (Namibia, Angola, and Zambia), both within and outside protected areas, while all countries and land-use units show an overall increasing trend in fire occurrences. Large fire occurrences increased up to 200% in the period before the beginning of the natural fire season in Namibia, where a new prescribed burn policy was introduced in 2006, while the other countries show a slightly different shift in seasonality of increasing fire occurrences mainly during the dry season. The mean size of fires also increases significantly across all land uses despite

  2. Testing the Accuracy of Aerial Surveys for Large Mammals: An Experiment with African Savanna Elephants (Loxodonta africana)

    PubMed Central

    Schlossberg, Scott; Chase, Michael J.; Griffin, Curtice R.

    2016-01-01

    Accurate counts of animals are critical for prioritizing conservation efforts. Past research, however, suggests that observers on aerial surveys may fail to detect all individuals of the target species present in the survey area. Such errors could bias population estimates low and confound trend estimation. We used two approaches to assess the accuracy of aerial surveys for African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) in northern Botswana. First, we used double-observer sampling, in which two observers make observations on the same herds, to estimate detectability of elephants and determine what variables affect it. Second, we compared total counts, a complete survey of the entire study area, against sample counts, in which only a portion of the study area is sampled. Total counts are often considered a complete census, so comparing total counts against sample counts can help to determine if sample counts are underestimating elephant numbers. We estimated that observers detected only 76% ± SE of 2% of elephant herds and 87 ± 1% of individual elephants present in survey strips. Detectability increased strongly with elephant herd size. Out of the four observers used in total, one observer had a lower detection probability than the other three, and detectability was higher in the rear row of seats than the front. The habitat immediately adjacent to animals also affected detectability, with detection more likely in more open habitats. Total counts were not statistically distinguishable from sample counts. Because, however, the double-observer samples revealed that observers missed 13% of elephants, we conclude that total counts may be undercounting elephants as well. These results suggest that elephant population estimates from both sample and total counts are biased low. Because factors such as observer and habitat affected detectability of elephants, comparisons of elephant populations across time or space may be confounded. We encourage survey teams to

  3. Tusklessness and tusk fractures in free-ranging African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Steenkamp, G; Ferreira, S M; Bester, M N

    2007-06-01

    The incidence of tusklessness varies between free-ranging African elephant populations. Sex-linked genetic drift predicts 2 outcomes--the condition becomes fixed and sex-specific incidences diverge when populations are small and/or heavily poached. By contrast, for large and intact populations, tusklessness diminishes and there is no variation between sexes. We tested these predictions by comparing sex-specific incidences between 15 populations: a small one with a skewed founder effect towards tusklessness; 5 that had experienced intense levels of poaching; 2 that had been subjected to non-selective culling and 7 that are relatively pristine. Patterns of rainfall were studied of tusk fractures amongst these populations to correct for any effect that acquired tusklessness may have on our predictions. The incidence of tusk fractures was related to annual rainfall, but the mechanism that leads to an increase of the condition in drier areas was not clear Incidences of tusk fractures in free-ranging populations implied that the frequency of acquired bilateral tusklessness is low and should not affect our results. All males had tusks. Tusklessness in females was high in the small skewed founder population and some of those where there was a history of poaching. The incidence is expected to decline if the residual population is large.

  4. Tusklessness and tusk fractures in free-ranging African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Steenkamp, G; Ferreira, S M; Bester, M N

    2007-06-01

    The incidence of tusklessness varies between free-ranging African elephant populations. Sex-linked genetic drift predicts 2 outcomes--the condition becomes fixed and sex-specific incidences diverge when populations are small and/or heavily poached. By contrast, for large and intact populations, tusklessness diminishes and there is no variation between sexes. We tested these predictions by comparing sex-specific incidences between 15 populations: a small one with a skewed founder effect towards tusklessness; 5 that had experienced intense levels of poaching; 2 that had been subjected to non-selective culling and 7 that are relatively pristine. Patterns of rainfall were studied of tusk fractures amongst these populations to correct for any effect that acquired tusklessness may have on our predictions. The incidence of tusk fractures was related to annual rainfall, but the mechanism that leads to an increase of the condition in drier areas was not clear Incidences of tusk fractures in free-ranging populations implied that the frequency of acquired bilateral tusklessness is low and should not affect our results. All males had tusks. Tusklessness in females was high in the small skewed founder population and some of those where there was a history of poaching. The incidence is expected to decline if the residual population is large. PMID:17941599

  5. Variations of soil δ13C and δ15N across a precipitation gradient in a savanna ecosystem: Implications of climate change on the carbon cycle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dintwe, K.; Gilhooly, W., III; Wang, L.; O'Donnell, F. C.; Bhattachan, A.; D'Odorico, P.; Okin, G. S.

    2015-12-01

    Savannas are the third largest terrestrial carbon pool after only tropical and borealforests. They are highly productive ecosystems and contribute about 30% of the globalterrestrial net primary productivity and potentially contain 20% of the world's soilorganic carbon. Global circulation models have predicted that many savannas willbecome warmer and drier during the twenty-first century. The impacts of the projectedclimatic trend on the productivity and biogeochemical cycles of savannas are not fullyunderstood. Here, we assessed the abundance of stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N)isotopes in soil profiles at four sites along a 1000 km transect with a strong south-northprecipitation gradient in southern Africa. The south receives about 180 mm of rainfall peryear and dominated by grass species (C4) whereas the north receives 540 mm·yr-1 anddominated by woody plants (C3). Soil surface δ13C showed that woody vegetation contributedmore than 75% of soil carbon input in the wet sites whereas grasses contributed about65% of soil carbon input in the dry sites. The soil profile δ13C indicated that intermediatesites have shifted from grass dominated to woody-shrub-dominated statesduring recent past. The dry sites had relatively higher δ15N (~10‰) compared to the wetsites (~5‰) indicating significantly greater N2 fixation in the wetter sites or high rates ofNH3 volatilization in the drier sites. Our results suggest that as savannas become warmerand drier due to climate change, woody shrubs are likely to be the dominant form ofvegetation structure, a process that could alter biogeochemical processes and results insavannas becoming net carbon sink or source.

  6. Stable oxygen isotope and flux partitioning demonstrates understory of an oak savanna contributes up to half of ecosystem carbon and water exchange.

    PubMed

    Dubbert, Maren; Piayda, Arndt; Cuntz, Matthias; Correia, Alexandra C; Costa E Silva, Filipe; Pereira, Joao S; Werner, Christiane

    2014-01-01

    Semi-arid ecosystems contribute about 40% to global net primary production (GPP) even though water is a major factor limiting carbon uptake. Evapotranspiration (ET) accounts for up to 95% of the water loss and in addition, vegetation can also mitigate drought effects by altering soil water distribution. Hence, partitioning of carbon and water fluxes between the soil and vegetation components is crucial to gain mechanistic understanding of vegetation effects on carbon and water cycling. However, the possible impact of herbaceous vegetation in savanna type ecosystems is often overlooked. Therefore, we aimed at quantifying understory vegetation effects on the water balance and productivity of a Mediterranean oak savanna. ET and net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) were partitioned based on flux and stable oxygen isotope measurements and also rain infiltration was estimated. The understory vegetation contributed importantly to total ecosystem ET and GPP with a maximum of 43 and 51%, respectively. It reached water-use efficiencies (WUE; ratio of carbon gain by water loss) similar to cork-oak trees. The understory vegetation inhibited soil evaporation (E) and, although E was large during wet periods, it did not diminish WUE during water-limited times. The understory strongly increased soil water infiltration, specifically following major rain events. At the same time, the understory itself was vulnerable to drought, which led to an earlier senescence of the understory growing under trees as compared to open areas, due to competition for water. Thus, beneficial understory effects are dominant and contribute to the resilience of this ecosystem. At the same time the vulnerability of the understory to drought suggests that future climate change scenarios for the Mediterranean basin threaten understory development. This in turn will very likely diminish beneficial understory effects like infiltration and ground water recharge and therefore ecosystem resilience to drought. PMID

  7. Stable oxygen isotope and flux partitioning demonstrates understory of an oak savanna contributes up to half of ecosystem carbon and water exchange.

    PubMed

    Dubbert, Maren; Piayda, Arndt; Cuntz, Matthias; Correia, Alexandra C; Costa E Silva, Filipe; Pereira, Joao S; Werner, Christiane

    2014-01-01

    Semi-arid ecosystems contribute about 40% to global net primary production (GPP) even though water is a major factor limiting carbon uptake. Evapotranspiration (ET) accounts for up to 95% of the water loss and in addition, vegetation can also mitigate drought effects by altering soil water distribution. Hence, partitioning of carbon and water fluxes between the soil and vegetation components is crucial to gain mechanistic understanding of vegetation effects on carbon and water cycling. However, the possible impact of herbaceous vegetation in savanna type ecosystems is often overlooked. Therefore, we aimed at quantifying understory vegetation effects on the water balance and productivity of a Mediterranean oak savanna. ET and net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) were partitioned based on flux and stable oxygen isotope measurements and also rain infiltration was estimated. The understory vegetation contributed importantly to total ecosystem ET and GPP with a maximum of 43 and 51%, respectively. It reached water-use efficiencies (WUE; ratio of carbon gain by water loss) similar to cork-oak trees. The understory vegetation inhibited soil evaporation (E) and, although E was large during wet periods, it did not diminish WUE during water-limited times. The understory strongly increased soil water infiltration, specifically following major rain events. At the same time, the understory itself was vulnerable to drought, which led to an earlier senescence of the understory growing under trees as compared to open areas, due to competition for water. Thus, beneficial understory effects are dominant and contribute to the resilience of this ecosystem. At the same time the vulnerability of the understory to drought suggests that future climate change scenarios for the Mediterranean basin threaten understory development. This in turn will very likely diminish beneficial understory effects like infiltration and ground water recharge and therefore ecosystem resilience to drought.

  8. Stable oxygen isotope and flux partitioning demonstrates understory of an oak savanna contributes up to half of ecosystem carbon and water exchange

    PubMed Central

    Dubbert, Maren; Piayda, Arndt; Cuntz, Matthias; Correia, Alexandra C.; Costa e Silva, Filipe; Pereira, Joao S.; Werner, Christiane

    2014-01-01

    Semi-arid ecosystems contribute about 40% to global net primary production (GPP) even though water is a major factor limiting carbon uptake. Evapotranspiration (ET) accounts for up to 95% of the water loss and in addition, vegetation can also mitigate drought effects by altering soil water distribution. Hence, partitioning of carbon and water fluxes between the soil and vegetation components is crucial to gain mechanistic understanding of vegetation effects on carbon and water cycling. However, the possible impact of herbaceous vegetation in savanna type ecosystems is often overlooked. Therefore, we aimed at quantifying understory vegetation effects on the water balance and productivity of a Mediterranean oak savanna. ET and net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) were partitioned based on flux and stable oxygen isotope measurements and also rain infiltration was estimated. The understory vegetation contributed importantly to total ecosystem ET and GPP with a maximum of 43 and 51%, respectively. It reached water-use efficiencies (WUE; ratio of carbon gain by water loss) similar to cork-oak trees. The understory vegetation inhibited soil evaporation (E) and, although E was large during wet periods, it did not diminish WUE during water-limited times. The understory strongly increased soil water infiltration, specifically following major rain events. At the same time, the understory itself was vulnerable to drought, which led to an earlier senescence of the understory growing under trees as compared to open areas, due to competition for water. Thus, beneficial understory effects are dominant and contribute to the resilience of this ecosystem. At the same time the vulnerability of the understory to drought suggests that future climate change scenarios for the Mediterranean basin threaten understory development. This in turn will very likely diminish beneficial understory effects like infiltration and ground water recharge and therefore ecosystem resilience to drought. PMID

  9. CLANIMAE: Climatic and Anthropogenic Impacts on African Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Verschuren, D.; André, L.; Mahy, G.; Cocquyt, C.; Plisnier, P.-D.; Gelorini, V.; Rumes, B.; Lebrun, J.; Bock, L.; Marchant, R.

    2009-04-01

    Global studies of historical land use focusing on the large-scale landscape change that can potentially affect global climate (via effects on surface albedo, aerosols, and the carbon cycle) have concluded that the impact of pre-colonial East African cultures on regional ecosystems was limited, due to very low mean population density. This contrasts with the paradigm in East African archaeology and paleoecology that the onset of anthropogenic deforestation started at least 2500 years ago, following the introduction of iron metallurgy by Bantu immigrants. This conflict highlights the present lack of real data on historical climate-environment-human interactions in East Africa, which are eminently relevant to sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity conservation in a future of continued population growth and global climate change. CLANIMAE responds to the urgent need of a correct long-term perspective to today's climate-environment-human interactions in East Africa, by reconstructing simultaneously the histories of past climate change and of vegetation and water-quality changes over the last 2500 years, through multi-disciplinary analysis of dated lake-sediment records. The climate reconstructions integrate information on biological, geochemical and sedimentological indicators of past changes in the water balance of the study lakes, which cover the climatological gradient from (sub-)humid western Uganda to semi-arid eastern Kenya. Reconstruction of past terrestrial vegetation dynamics is based on analyses of fossil plant pollen and phytoliths, plus the fossil spores of fungi associated with the excrements of large domestic animals as indicators of lake use by pastoralists. The evolution of water quality through time is reconstructed using silicon isotopes in diatom algae as proxy indicator for past phytoplankton productivity, and paleoecological analyses of fossil diatoms and aquatic macrophytes, following calibration of diatom and macrophyte species

  10. Effects of mammalian herbivore declines on plant communities: observations and experiments in an African savanna

    PubMed Central

    Young, Hillary S; McCauley, Douglas J; Helgen, Kristofer M; Goheen, Jacob R; Otárola-Castillo, Erik; Palmer, Todd M; Pringle, Robert M; Young, Truman P; Dirzo, Rodolfo

    2013-01-01

    1. Herbivores influence the structure and composition of terrestrial plant communities. However, responses of plant communities to herbivory are variable and depend on environmental conditions, herbivore identity and herbivore abundance. As anthropogenic impacts continue to drive large declines in wild herbivores, understanding the context dependence of herbivore impacts on plant communities becomes increasingly important. 2. Exclosure experiments are frequently used to assess how ecosystems reorganize in the face of large wild herbivore defaunation. Yet in many landscapes, declines in large wildlife are often accompanied by other anthropogenic activities, especially land conversion to livestock production. In such cases, exclosure experiments may not reflect typical outcomes of human-driven extirpations of wild herbivores. 3. Here, we examine how plant community responses to changes in the identity and abundance of large herbivores interact with abiotic factors (rainfall and soil properties). We also explore how effects of wild herbivores on plant communities differ between large-scale herbivore exclosures and landscape sites where anthropogenic activity has caused wildlife declines, often accompanied by livestock increases. 4. Abiotic context modulated the responses of plant communities to herbivore declines with stronger effect sizes in lower-productivity environments. Also, shifts in plant community structure, composition and species richness following wildlife declines differed considerably between exclosure experiments and landscape sites in which wild herbivores had declined and were often replaced by livestock. Plant communities in low wildlife landscape sites were distinct in both composition and physical structure from both exclosure and control sites in experiments. The power of environmental (soil and rainfall) gradients in influencing plant response to herbivores was also greatly dampened or absent in the landscape sites. One likely explanation for

  11. Carbon emissions and sequestration potential of Central African ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Zhang, Q; Justice, C O

    2001-09-01

    Joint Implementation under the Climate Change Convention and Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol require a scientific understanding of current carbon stocks, fluxes, and sequestration potential, especially in tropical ecosystems where there are large carbon reservoirs, significant carbon emissions, and large land areas available for reforestation. Central Africa contains 10% of the world's remaining tropical moist forests and has received little attention in carbon studies. In 1980, above-ground carbon stocks in the central African ecosystem were 28.92 Pg and were reduced to 24.79 Pg by 1990. Improved forest management aimed at increasing biomass density could sequester 18.32 Pg of carbon, and over 500,000 km2 formerly forested land will be available by 2050 for reforestation with a capacity to offset 10 Pg carbon. Understanding the spatial distribution of biomass carbon and sequestration potential will be essential for carbon trading initiatives through Joint Implementation and Clean Development Mechanism.

  12. Quantification of Canopy Structure and its Implication on Radiative Transfer, Carbon Dioxide and Energy Flux Densities in a Heterogeneous Oak-Grass Savanna Ecosystem at the Landscape Scale

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sonnentag, O.; Ryu, Y.; Vargas, R.; Baldocchi, D.

    2008-12-01

    Oak-grass savanna ecosystems are characterized by pronounced heterogeneity in canopy structure at the landscape scale. Due to this heterogeneity the accurate quantification of canopy structure still remains a major challenge. The objectives of this study are to quantify clumping index, leaf area index (LAI) and the leaf inclination angle distribution function (LIADF) to describe the canopy structure of an oak-grass savanna ecosystem in California, USA. This information is critical for utilizing a radiative transfer model to compute CO2 and energy flux densities. We used four established techniques (LAI-2000 Plant Canopy Analyzer, digital hemispherical photography, the Tracing Radiation and Architecture of Canopies (TRAC) instrument, and a robotics railroad radiometer) to measure clumping index and LAI within a 300 x 300 m plot centered at an eddy covariance (EC) tower. Leaf inclination angle distributions were assessed from digital photographs at multiple height intervals through analysis with a public domain image processing software. Preliminary analysis of the data showed that mean values for clumping index and LAI obtained from the various instruments are in good agreement, thus reducing the uncertainty inherent in the measurements. Our leaf angle measurements revealed the canopy to be predominantly erectophile at all height intervals, an ecological consequence of the fact that oak leaves must be erect to reduce thermal load.

  13. Effects of moisture and burning on soil-atmosphere exchange of trace carbon gases in a southern African savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zepp, Richard G.; Miller, William L.; Burke, Roger A.; Parsons, Dirk A. B.; Scholes, Mary C.

    1996-10-01

    Soil fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and carbon monoxide (CO) were measured during a period of extreme drought at semi-arid savanna sites located in the Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa, as part of the SAFARI-92 experiments (Sept., 1992). Soil respiration in this savanna was little affected by burning, but was strongly stimulated by addition of moisture. Mean soil respiration from the dry soil was 0.4 g C m-2 d-1 in open savanna plots that had been burned biennially and 0.5 g C m-2 d-1 in woody savanna plots. A light natural rain (about 0.6 mm) increased the CO2 flux in the open savanna sites by 5-fold but the effect was short-lived. A simulated heavy rain (25 mm of added distilled water) increased CO2 fluxes by over an order of magnitude in both burned and control sites and the emissions remained over 5 times pre-wetting values during a week of drying. Over 65% of our measurements indicated no significant soil-atmosphere methane exchange; most of the few non-zero measurements indicated a small (<1 mg CH4-C m-2 d-1) flux of methane to the atmosphere. Soil-atmosphere CH4 exchange was not significantly affected by either burning the grass layer or by the addition of distilled water to the soil. The net soil CO fluxes, which generally increased with increasing soil temperature, were positive up to 356 × 109 molecules cm-2 s-1 with an average of 8.8 × 1010 molecules cm-2 s-1 for the untreated open savanna plots. After burning, the fluxes rose by over an order of magnitude but dropped back to preburn levels within a few days. Observed CO fluxes were higher than those previously reported for southern Africa savannas during non-drought conditions. Added moisture had little effect on CO fluxes during the 3-week period of SAFARI-92.

  14. Inter- and intrahabitat dietary variability of chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) in South African savannas based on fecal delta13C, delta15N, and %N.

    PubMed

    Codron, Daryl; Lee-Thorp, Julia A; Sponheimer, Matt; de Ruiter, Darryl; Codron, Jacqueline

    2006-02-01

    Baboons are dietary generalists, consuming a wide range of food items in varying proportions. It is thus difficult to quantify and explain the dietary behavior of these primates. We present stable carbon (delta(13)C) and nitrogen (delta(15)N) isotopic data, and percentage nitrogen (%N), of feces from chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) living in two savanna environments of South Africa: the mountainous Waterberg region and the low-lying Kruger National Park. Baboons living in the more homogeneous landscapes of the Waterberg consume a more isotopically heterogeneous diet than their counterparts living in Kruger Park. Grasses and other C(4)-based foods comprise between approximately 10-20% (on average) of the bulk diet of Kruger Park baboons. Carbon isotopic data from the Waterberg suggest diets of approximately 30-50% grass, which is higher than generally reported for baboons across the African savanna. Based on observations of succulent-feeding, we propose that baboons in the Waterberg consume a mix of C(4) grasses and CAM-photosynthesizing succulents in combined proportions varying between approximately 5-75% (average, approximately 35%). Fecal delta(15)N of baboons is lower than that of sympatric ungulates, which may be due to a combination of low levels of faunivory, foraging on subterranean plant parts, or the use of human foods in the case of Kruger Park populations. Fecal N levels in baboons are consistently higher than those of sympatric ungulate herbivores, indicating that baboons consume a greater proportion of protein-rich foods than do other savanna mammals. These data suggest that chacma baboons adapt their dietary behavior so as to maximize protein intake, regardless of their environment.

  15. Generation of ecosystem hotspots using short-term cattle corrals in an African savanna

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Many rangelands are now being managed for multiple uses, and it is increasingly important to identify livestock management practices that maximize long-term productivity, biodiversity and wildlife conservation. In sub-Saharan Africa, pastoralists and ranchers use temporary thorn-fence corrals (“boma...

  16. Dry deposition of nitrogen compounds (NO2, HNO3, NH3), sulfur dioxide and ozone in West and Central African ecosystems using the inferential method

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Adon, M.; Galy-Lacaux, C.; Yoboue, V.; Delon, C.; Solmon, F.; Kaptue Tchuente, A. T.

    2013-05-01

    This work is part of the IDAF program (IGAC-DEBITS-AFRICA) and is based on the long term monitoring of gas concentrations (1998-2007) established on seven remote sites representative of major African ecosystems. Dry deposition fluxes were estimated by the inferential method using on one hand surface measurements of gas concentrations (NO2, HNO3, NH3, SO2, and O3) and on the other hand simulated dry deposition velocities (Vd). Vd were calculated using the big-leaf model of Zhang et al. (2003b). In the model of deposition, surface and meteorological conditions specific to IDAF sites have been adapted in order to simulate Vd representative of major African ecosystems. The monthly, seasonal and annual mean variations of gaseous dry deposition fluxes (NO2, HNO3, NH3, O3, and SO2) are analyzed. Along the latitudinal transect of ecosystems, the annual mean dry deposition fluxes of nitrogen compounds range from 0.4 ± 0.0 to 0.8 ± 0.2 kg N ha-1 yr-1 for NO2, from 0.7 ± 0.1 to 1.0 ± 0.3 kg N ha-1 yr-1 for HNO3, and from 2.3 ± 0.8 to 10.5 ± 5.0 kg N ha-1 yr-1 for NH3 over the study period (1998-2007). The total nitrogen dry deposition flux (NO2+HNO3+NH3) is more important in forests (11.2-11.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1) than in wet and dry savannas (3.4-5.3 kg N ha-1 yr-1). NH3 dominated nitrogen dry deposition, representing 67-80% of the total. The annual mean dry deposition fluxes of ozone range between 11.3 ± 4.7 and 17.5 ± 3.0 kg ha-1 yr-1 in dry savannas, 17.5 ± 3.0 and 19.2 ± 2.9 kg ha-1 yr-1 in wet savannas, and 10.6 ± 2.0 and 13.2 ± 3.6 kg ha-1 yr-1 in forests. Lowest O3 dry deposition fluxes in forests are correlated to low measured O3 concentrations, lower of a factor of 2-3, compared to others ecosystems. Along the ecosystem transect, annual mean of SO2 dry deposition fluxes present low values and a small variability (0.5 to 1 kg S ha-1 yr-1). No specific trend in the interannual variability of these gaseous dry deposition fluxes is observed over the study period.

  17. Seasonal Controls on Water and Carbon Fluxes Responding to Pulse Precipitation Events in Dryland Systems: Examples from Southern African Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Williams, C. A.; Hanan, N. P.; Scholes, R. J.

    2005-12-01

    Water and carbon fluxes from savanna landscapes are tightly coupled to soil water availability through physiological limitation from plant water stress. This general principle has been used to broadly characterize savanna vegetation distributions based almost solely on rainfall or soil moisture. However, a number of other physical and biotic drivers vary seasonally and interannually, including radiation, humidity, leaf area, and plant functional type. It remains unclear to what degree these other drivers limit our ability to accurately predict vegetation distributions in water-limited systems. In this study, we analyze five years of eddy flux data collected at Kruger National Park, South Africa, to investigate the degree to which these other drivers modulate soil moisture control of water and carbon fluxes. Our analysis focuses on what controls seasonal variation in the response of canopy-scale fluxes to pulse precipitation events and subsequent drydown. From more than thirty drydown response curves, we find pronounced seasonal variation in the time rate of decay of soil moisture and evapotranspiration, which are both well represented as either a logarithm or power of time since a rainfall pulse. Radiation and humidity explain most of the residuals in the response of evapotranspiration to soil moisture, with only weak explanatory power of leaf area. We also find little difference in the drydown responses of Combretum versus Acacia dominated savannas. Marked seasonal shifts in canopy-scale water use efficiency (carbon / water fluxes) documents transitions from early wet season greening, to dry season moisture stress, to dormancy and decay prior to first rains. These results suggest that generalized relations between soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and carbon exchange are robust when adjusted to incorporate seasonal dependence on radiation and humidty. Broader implications for modeling savanna vegetation distributions will be discussed.

  18. Using ground- and satellite-based measurements and models to quantify response to multiple disturbances and climate change in South African semi-arid ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Falge, Eva; Brümmer, Christian; Schmullius, Christiane; Scholes, Robert; Twine, Wayne; Mudau, Azwitamisi; Midgley, Guy; Hickler, Thomas; Bradshaw, Karen; Lück, Wolfgang; Thiel-Clemen, Thomas; du Toit, Justin; Sankaran, Vaith; Kutsch, Werner

    2016-04-01

    Sub-Saharan Africa currently experiences significant changes in shrubland, savanna and mixed woodland ecosystems driving degradation, affecting fire frequency and water availability, and eventually fueling climate change. The project 'Adaptive Resilience of Southern African Ecosystems' (ARS AfricaE) conducts research and develops scenarios of ecosystem development under climate change, for management support in conservation or for planning rural area development. For a network of research clusters along an aridity gradient in South Africa, we measure greenhouse gas exchange, ecosystem structure and eco-physiological properties as affected by land use change at paired sites with natural and altered vegetation. We set up dynamic vegetation models and individual-based models to predict ecosystem dynamics under (post) disturbance managements. We monitor vegetation amount and heterogeneity using remotely sensed images and aerial photography over several decades to examine time series of land cover change. Finally, we investigate livelihood strategies with focus on carbon balance components to develop sustainable management strategies for disturbed ecosystems and land use change. Emphasis is given on validation of estimates obtained from eddy covariance, model approaches and satellite derivations. We envision our methodological approach on a network of research clusters a valuable means to investigate potential linkages to concepts of adaptive resilience.

  19. Prospects of the ICESat-2 laser altimetry mission for savanna ecosystem structural studies based on airborne simulation data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gwenzi, David; Lefsky, Michael A.; Suchdeo, Vijay P.; Harding, David J.

    2016-08-01

    The next planned spaceborne lidar mission is the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite 2 (ICESat-2), which will use the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) sensor, a photon counting technique. To pre-validate the capability of this mission for studying three dimensional vegetation structure in savannas, we assessed the potential of the measurement approach to estimate canopy height in an oak savanna landscape. We used data from the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar (MABEL), an airborne photon counting lidar sensor developed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. ATLAS-like data was generated using the MATLAS simulator, which adjusts MABEL data's detected number of signal and noise photons to that expected from the ATLAS instrument. Transects flown over the Tejon ranch conservancy in Kern County, California, USA were used for this work. For each transect we chose to use data from the near infrared channel that had the highest number of photons. We segmented each transect into 50 m, 25 m and 14 m long blocks and aggregated the photons in each block into a histogram based on their elevation values. We then used an automated algorithm to identify cut off points where the cumulative density of photons from the highest elevation indicates the presence of the canopy top and likewise where such cumulative density from the lowest elevation indicates the mean terrain elevation. MABEL derived height metrics were moderately correlated to discrete return lidar (DRL) derived height metrics (r2 and RMSE values ranging from 0.60 to 0.73 and 2.9 m to 4.4 m respectively) but MATLAS simulation resulted in more modest correlations with DRL indices (r2 ranging from 0.5 to 0.64 and RMSE from 3.6 m to 4.6 m). Simulations also indicated that the expected number of signal photons from ATLAS will be substantially lower, a situation that reduces canopy height estimation precision especially in areas of low density vegetation cover. On the basis of the simulated

  20. Spatial and temporal variability of carbon fluxes in African ecosystems - a CarboAfrica synthesis study

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kutsch, Werner Leo; Merbold, Lutz; Scholes, Bob

    2010-05-01

    This study reports carbon and water fluxes between the land surface and atmosphere in eleven different ecosystems in Sub-Saharan Africa, as measured using eddy covariance (EC) technology. The ecosystems for which data were available ranged in mean annual rainfall from 320mm (Sudan) to 1150mm (Republic of Congo) and include a spectrum of land cover types (savannas, woodlands, croplands and grasslands). Data were analysed across the network, in order to understand the driving factors for ecosystem respiration and carbon assimilation, and to reveal the different water use strategies in these highly seasonal environments. In addition to the spatial pattern, the temporal pattern that connects carbon fluxes with water relations in savanna ecosystems were studied in detail in a savanna ecosystem at Kruger National Park, South Africa and a miombo woodland in Western Zambia. Temporal variability: The regulation of canopy conductance was temporally changing in two ways: changes due to phenology during the course of the growing season and short-term (hours to days) acclimation to soil water conditions. The most constant parameter was water use efficiency. It was influenced by humidity (VPD) during the day, but the VPD response curve of water usage only changed slightly during the course of the growing season, and decreased by about 30% during the transition from wet to dry season. The regulation of canopy conductance and photosynthetic capacity were closely related. This observation meets recent leaf-level findings that stomatal closure triggers down-regulation of photosynthesis during drought. Our results may show the effects of these processes on the ecosystem scale. Spatial variability: The same pattern was found at large spatial scales. Maximum carbon assimilation rates were highly correlated with mean annual rainfall (r2=0.74) and were also positively correlated with satellite-derived fAPAR. Ecosystem respiration was dependent on temperature at all sites, and was

  1. RECOVER - An Automated Burned Area Emergency Response Decision Support System for Post-fire Rehabilitation Management of Savanna Ecosystems in the Western US

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Weber, K.; Schnase, J. L.; Carroll, M.; Brown, M. E.; Gill, R.; Haskett, G.; Gardner, T.

    2013-12-01

    In partnership with the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), we are building and evaluating the RECOVER decision support system. RECOVER - which stands for Rehabilitation Capability Convergence for Ecosystem Recovery - is an automatically deployable, context-aware decision support system for savanna wildfires that brings together in a single application the information necessary for post-fire rehabilitation decision-making and long-term ecosystem monitoring. RECOVER uses state-of-the-art cloud-based data management technologies to improve performance, reduce cost, and provide site-specific flexibility for each fire. The RECOVER Server uses Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System (iRODS) data grid technology deployed in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). The RECOVER Client is an Adobe Flex web map application that is able to provide a suite of convenient GIS analytical capabilities. In a typical use scenario, the RECOVER Server is provided a wildfire name and geospatial extent. The Server then automatically gathers Earth observational data and other relevant products from various geographically distributed data sources. The Server creates a database in the cloud where all relevant information about the wildfire is stored. This information is made available to the RECOVER Client and ultimately to fire managers through their choice of web browser. The Server refreshes the data throughout the burn and subsequent recovery period (3-5 years) with each refresh requiring two minutes to complete. Since remediation plans must be completed within 14 days of a fire's containment, RECOVER has the potential to significantly improve the decision-making process. RECOVER adds an important new dimension to post-fire decision-making by focusing on ecosystem rehabilitation in semiarid savannas. A novel aspect of RECOVER's approach involves the use of soil moisture estimates, which are an important but difficult

  2. Competition between a Lawn-Forming Cynodon dactylon and a Tufted Grass Species Hyparrhenia hirta on a South-African Dystrophic Savanna

    PubMed Central

    Zwerts, J. A.; Prins, H. H. T.; Bomhoff, D.; Verhagen, I.; Swart, J. M.; de Boer, W. F.

    2015-01-01

    South African savanna grasslands are often characterised by indigestible tufted grass species whereas lawn grasses are far more desirable in terms of herbivore sustenance. We aimed to investigate the role of nutrients and/or the disturbance (grazing, trampling) by herbivores on the formation of grazing lawns. We conducted a series of common garden experiments to test the effect of nutrients on interspecific competition between a typical lawn-forming grass species (Cynodon dactylon) and a species that is frequently found outside grazing lawns (Hyparrhenia hirta), and tested for the effect of herbivore disturbance in the form of trampling and clipping. We also performed a vegetation and herbivore survey to apply experimentally derived insights to field observations. Our results showed that interspecific competition was not affected by soil nutrient concentrations. C. dactylon did show much more resilience to disturbance than H. hirta, presumably due to the regenerative capacity of its rhizomes. Results from the field survey were in line with these findings, describing a correlation between herbivore pressure and C. dactylon abundance. We conclude that herbivore disturbance, and not soil nutrients, provide C. dactylon with a competitive advantage over H. hirta, due to vegetative regeneration from its rhizomes. This provides evidence for the importance of concentrated, high herbivore densities for the creation and maintenance of grazing lawns. PMID:26510157

  3. Competition between a Lawn-Forming Cynodon dactylon and a Tufted Grass Species Hyparrhenia hirta on a South-African Dystrophic Savanna.

    PubMed

    Zwerts, J A; Prins, H H T; Bomhoff, D; Verhagen, I; Swart, J M; de Boer, W F

    2015-01-01

    South African savanna grasslands are often characterised by indigestible tufted grass species whereas lawn grasses are far more desirable in terms of herbivore sustenance. We aimed to investigate the role of nutrients and/or the disturbance (grazing, trampling) by herbivores on the formation of grazing lawns. We conducted a series of common garden experiments to test the effect of nutrients on interspecific competition between a typical lawn-forming grass species (Cynodon dactylon) and a species that is frequently found outside grazing lawns (Hyparrhenia hirta), and tested for the effect of herbivore disturbance in the form of trampling and clipping. We also performed a vegetation and herbivore survey to apply experimentally derived insights to field observations. Our results showed that interspecific competition was not affected by soil nutrient concentrations. C. dactylon did show much more resilience to disturbance than H. hirta, presumably due to the regenerative capacity of its rhizomes. Results from the field survey were in line with these findings, describing a correlation between herbivore pressure and C. dactylon abundance. We conclude that herbivore disturbance, and not soil nutrients, provide C. dactylon with a competitive advantage over H. hirta, due to vegetative regeneration from its rhizomes. This provides evidence for the importance of concentrated, high herbivore densities for the creation and maintenance of grazing lawns. PMID:26510157

  4. Researching the Link Between Biomass Burning and Drought Across the Northern Sub-Saharan African Savanna/Sahel Belt

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Ichoku, Charles; Ellison, Luke

    2012-01-01

    The northern sub-Saharan African (NSSA) region, bounded by the Sahara, Equator, and the West and East African coastlines, is subjected to intense biomass burning every year during the dry season. This is believed to be one of the drivers of the regional carbon and energy cycles, with serious implications for the water cycle anomalies that probably contribute to drought and desertification. In this presentation, we will discuss a new multi-disciplinary research in the NSSA region, review progress, evaluate preliminary results, and interact with the research and user communities to examine how best to coordinate with other research activities in order to address related environmental issues most effectively.

  5. Can eddy covariance flux magnitudes and uncertainties be explained by surface heterogeneity? - A combined multi-tower - hyperspectral remote sensing approach in a Mediterranean Savanna ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    El-Madany, T. S.; Migliavacca, M.; Perez-Priego, O.; Carrara, A.; Kolle, O.; Moreno, G.; Pacheco Labrador, J.; Martin Isabel, M. P.; Reichstein, M.

    2015-12-01

    Several studies in recent literature focus on uncertainty estimates of turbulent fluxes as measured by the eddy covariance method. The knowledge of the uncertainties is important for the interpretation of results, but also for model-data-integration where uncertainties of input parameters play an important role for parameter estimations. The estimates of uncertainties rely either on time series analysis or on comparisons between collocated towers or comparisons in time under similar bio-meteorological conditions. We will present a unique data set from 3 collocated EC towers (distance of 500 - 600 m) at the long-term EC site 'Majadas del Tietar', Spain. The site is a Savanna type ecosystem with oak trees and grass in the understory. Cattle are grazing the area from autumn to early summer. The combination of EC data and hyperspectral remote sensing data from aircraft flight with the CASI system allows to associate flux differences to differences in the spectral properties of the surface within the footprints. The drawback is that maps of VI can only be used as long as the vegetation (structure or phenology) is not changing. But not only vegetation indices (VI), also differences of the full spectra will be used to determine differences of footprint areas. First results show correlations between flux differences and differences of VI within the footprint areas. This indicates that multi-tower approaches and paired observations from one tower (if the footprint area is not identical) may overestimate the uncertainty of eddy covariance measurements.

  6. Comparison of the driving forces of spring phenology among savanna landscapes by including combined spatial and temporal heterogeneity.

    PubMed

    Zhu, Likai; Southworth, Jane; Meng, Jijun

    2015-10-01

    Understanding spatial and temporal dynamics of land surface phenology (LSP) and its driving forces are critical for providing information relevant to short- and long-term decision making, particularly as it relates to climate response planning. With the third generation Global Inventory Monitoring and Modeling System (GIMMS3g) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data and environmental data from multiple sources, we investigated the spatio-temporal changes in the start of the growing season (SOS) in southern African savannas from 1982 through 2010 and determined its linkage to environmental factors using spatial panel data models. Overall, the SOS occurs earlier in the north compared to the south. This relates in part to the differences in ecosystems, with northern areas representing high rainfall and dense tree cover (mainly tree savannas), whereas the south has lower rainfall and sparse tree cover (mainly bush and grass savannas). From 1982 to 2010, an advanced trend was observed predominantly in the tree savanna areas of the north, whereas a delayed trend was chiefly found in the floodplain of the north and bush/grass savannas of the south. Different environmental drivers were detected within tree- and grass-dominated savannas, with a critical division being represented by the 800 mm isohyet. Our results supported the importance of water as a driver in this water-limited system, specifically preseason soil moisture, in determining the SOS in these water-limited, grass-dominated savannas. In addition, the research pointed to other, often overlooked, effects of preseason maximum and minimum temperatures on the SOS across the entire region. Higher preseason maximum temperatures led to an advance of the SOS, whereas the opposite effects of preseason minimum temperature were observed. With the rapid increase in global change research, this work will prove helpful for managing savanna landscapes and key to predicting how projected climate changes will affect

  7. Comparison of the driving forces of spring phenology among savanna landscapes by including combined spatial and temporal heterogeneity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhu, Likai; Southworth, Jane; Meng, Jijun

    2015-10-01

    Understanding spatial and temporal dynamics of land surface phenology (LSP) and its driving forces are critical for providing information relevant to short- and long-term decision making, particularly as it relates to climate response planning. With the third generation Global Inventory Monitoring and Modeling System (GIMMS3g) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data and environmental data from multiple sources, we investigated the spatio-temporal changes in the start of the growing season (SOS) in southern African savannas from 1982 through 2010 and determined its linkage to environmental factors using spatial panel data models. Overall, the SOS occurs earlier in the north compared to the south. This relates in part to the differences in ecosystems, with northern areas representing high rainfall and dense tree cover (mainly tree savannas), whereas the south has lower rainfall and sparse tree cover (mainly bush and grass savannas). From 1982 to 2010, an advanced trend was observed predominantly in the tree savanna areas of the north, whereas a delayed trend was chiefly found in the floodplain of the north and bush/grass savannas of the south. Different environmental drivers were detected within tree- and grass-dominated savannas, with a critical division being represented by the 800 mm isohyet. Our results supported the importance of water as a driver in this water-limited system, specifically preseason soil moisture, in determining the SOS in these water-limited, grass-dominated savannas. In addition, the research pointed to other, often overlooked, effects of preseason maximum and minimum temperatures on the SOS across the entire region. Higher preseason maximum temperatures led to an advance of the SOS, whereas the opposite effects of preseason minimum temperature were observed. With the rapid increase in global change research, this work will prove helpful for managing savanna landscapes and key to predicting how projected climate changes will affect

  8. How Rainfall Variation Influences Reproductive Patterns of African Savanna Ungulates in an Equatorial Region Where Photoperiod Variation Is Absent.

    PubMed

    Ogutu, Joseph O; Owen-Smith, Norman; Piepho, Hans-Peter; Dublin, Holly T

    2015-01-01

    In high temperate latitudes, ungulates generally give birth within a narrow time window when conditions are optimal for offspring survival in spring or early summer, and use changing photoperiod to time conceptions so as to anticipate these conditions. However, in low tropical latitudes day length variation is minimal, and rainfall variation makes the seasonal cycle less predictable. Nevertheless, several ungulate species retain narrow birth peaks under such conditions, while others show births spread quite widely through the year. We investigated how within-year and between-year variation in rainfall influenced the reproductive timing of four ungulate species showing these contrasting patterns in the Masai Mara region of Kenya. All four species exhibited birth peaks during the putative optimal period in the early wet season. For hartebeest and impala, the birth peak was diffuse and offspring were born throughout the year. In contrast, topi and warthog showed a narrow seasonal concentration of births, with conceptions suppressed once monthly rainfall fell below a threshold level. High rainfall in the previous season and high early rains in the current year enhanced survival into the juvenile stage for all the species except impala. Our findings reveal how rainfall variation affecting grass growth and hence herbivore nutrition can govern the reproductive phenology of ungulates in tropical latitudes where day length variation is minimal. The underlying mechanism seems to be the suppression of conceptions once nutritional gains become insufficient. Through responding proximally to within-year variation in rainfall, tropical savanna ungulates are less likely to be affected adversely by the consequences of global warming for vegetation phenology than northern ungulates showing more rigid photoperiodic control over reproductive timing. PMID:26295154

  9. How Rainfall Variation Influences Reproductive Patterns of African Savanna Ungulates in an Equatorial Region Where Photoperiod Variation Is Absent

    PubMed Central

    Ogutu, Joseph O.; Owen-Smith, Norman; Piepho, Hans-Peter; Dublin, Holly T.

    2015-01-01

    In high temperate latitudes, ungulates generally give birth within a narrow time window when conditions are optimal for offspring survival in spring or early summer, and use changing photoperiod to time conceptions so as to anticipate these conditions. However, in low tropical latitudes day length variation is minimal, and rainfall variation makes the seasonal cycle less predictable. Nevertheless, several ungulate species retain narrow birth peaks under such conditions, while others show births spread quite widely through the year. We investigated how within-year and between-year variation in rainfall influenced the reproductive timing of four ungulate species showing these contrasting patterns in the Masai Mara region of Kenya. All four species exhibited birth peaks during the putative optimal period in the early wet season. For hartebeest and impala, the birth peak was diffuse and offspring were born throughout the year. In contrast, topi and warthog showed a narrow seasonal concentration of births, with conceptions suppressed once monthly rainfall fell below a threshold level. High rainfall in the previous season and high early rains in the current year enhanced survival into the juvenile stage for all the species except impala. Our findings reveal how rainfall variation affecting grass growth and hence herbivore nutrition can govern the reproductive phenology of ungulates in tropical latitudes where day length variation is minimal. The underlying mechanism seems to be the suppression of conceptions once nutritional gains become insufficient. Through responding proximally to within-year variation in rainfall, tropical savanna ungulates are less likely to be affected adversely by the consequences of global warming for vegetation phenology than northern ungulates showing more rigid photoperiodic control over reproductive timing. PMID:26295154

  10. How Rainfall Variation Influences Reproductive Patterns of African Savanna Ungulates in an Equatorial Region Where Photoperiod Variation Is Absent.

    PubMed

    Ogutu, Joseph O; Owen-Smith, Norman; Piepho, Hans-Peter; Dublin, Holly T

    2015-01-01

    In high temperate latitudes, ungulates generally give birth within a narrow time window when conditions are optimal for offspring survival in spring or early summer, and use changing photoperiod to time conceptions so as to anticipate these conditions. However, in low tropical latitudes day length variation is minimal, and rainfall variation makes the seasonal cycle less predictable. Nevertheless, several ungulate species retain narrow birth peaks under such conditions, while others show births spread quite widely through the year. We investigated how within-year and between-year variation in rainfall influenced the reproductive timing of four ungulate species showing these contrasting patterns in the Masai Mara region of Kenya. All four species exhibited birth peaks during the putative optimal period in the early wet season. For hartebeest and impala, the birth peak was diffuse and offspring were born throughout the year. In contrast, topi and warthog showed a narrow seasonal concentration of births, with conceptions suppressed once monthly rainfall fell below a threshold level. High rainfall in the previous season and high early rains in the current year enhanced survival into the juvenile stage for all the species except impala. Our findings reveal how rainfall variation affecting grass growth and hence herbivore nutrition can govern the reproductive phenology of ungulates in tropical latitudes where day length variation is minimal. The underlying mechanism seems to be the suppression of conceptions once nutritional gains become insufficient. Through responding proximally to within-year variation in rainfall, tropical savanna ungulates are less likely to be affected adversely by the consequences of global warming for vegetation phenology than northern ungulates showing more rigid photoperiodic control over reproductive timing.

  11. SPACES Project ARS AfricaE – Adaptive Resilience of Southern African ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Falge, Eva; Brümmer, Christian; Schmullius, Christiane; Hüttich, Christian; Scholes, Robert John; Midgley, Guy; Hickler, Thomas; Scheiter, Simon; Twine, Wayne; Bradshaw, Karen; Lück, Wolfgang; Thiel-Clemen, Thomas; Lenfers, Ulfia; Mukelabai, Mukufute; Kutsch, Werner

    2015-04-01

    Nowadays, many semi-arid ecosystems are affected by at least two different kinds of disturbances: land use (change) and climate change. Based on this, it can be hypothesized that even very resilient ecosystems may not return to their initial state after disturbance, but will rather adapt to a new steady-state. We name this phenomenon "Adaptive Resilience of Ecosystems" and use it as base for the research concept of ARS AfricaE. This project wants to go beyond older approaches that only describe structural changes in savannas and their drivers. It employs functional aspects, such as the investigation of biogeochemical cycles, but also targets a deeper understanding of the functional consequences of ecosystem changes caused by multiple disturbances, and defines "degradation" as a sustained loss in the broad set of ecosystem services, i.e. a decrease in natural capital. To achieve this goal, the project will • create a network of research clusters (with natural and altered vegetation) along an aridity gradient in the Greater Karoo, Kruger National Park in South Africa, and Kataba Forest Reserve in Zambia • link biogeochemical functions with ecosystem structure, diversity of species and eco-physiological properties • describe ecosystem disturbance (and recovery) in terms of ecosystem function such as carbon balance components and water use efficiency • build an individual-based model to predict ecosystem dynamics under (post) disturbance managements • combine this model with long-term landscape dynamic information derived from remote sensing and aerial photography • develop sustainable management strategies for disturbed ecosystems and land use change

  12. Land use scenarios development and impacts assessment on vegetation carbon/nitrogen sequestration in the West African Sudan savanna watershed, Benin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chabi, A.

    2015-12-01

    AbstractBackground: Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), being developed through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requires information on the carbon/nitrogen stocks in the plant biomass for predicting future climate under scenarios development. The development of land use scenarios in West Africa is needed to predict future impacts of change in the environment and the socio-economic status of rural communities. The study aims at developing land use scenario based on mitigation strategy to climate change as an issue of contributing for carbon and nitrogen sequestration, the condition 'food focused' as a scenario based crop production and 'financial investment' as scenario based on an economic development pathway, and to explore the possible future temporal and spatial impacts on vegetation carbon/nitrogen sequestration/emission and socio-economic status of rural communities. Preliminary results: BEN-LUDAS (Benin-Land Use DyNamic Simulator) model, carbon and nitrogen equations, remote sensing and socio-economic data were used to predict the future impacts of each scenario in the environment and human systems. The preliminary results which are under analysis will be presented soon. Conclusion: The proposed BEN-LUDAS models will help to contribute to policy decision making at the local and regional scale and to predict future impacts of change in the environment and socio-economic status of the rural communities. Keywords: Land use scenarios development, BEN-LUDAS, socio-economic status of rural communities, future impacts of change, assessment, West African Sudan savanna watershed, Benin

  13. Land use scenarios development and impacts assessment on vegetation carbon/nitrogen sequestration in the West African Sudan savanna watershed, Benin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chabi, A.

    2015-12-01

    ackground: Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), being developed through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requires information on the carbon/nitrogen stocks in the plant biomass for predicting future climate under scenarios development. The development of land use scenarios in West Africa is needed to predict future impacts of change in the environment and the socio-economic status of rural communities. The study aims at developing land use scenario based on mitigation strategy to climate change as an issue of contributing for carbon and nitrogen sequestration, the condition 'food focused' as a scenario based crop production and 'financial investment' as scenario based on an economic development pathway, and to explore the possible future temporal and spatial impacts on vegetation carbon/nitrogen sequestration/emission and socio-economic status of rural communities. Preliminary results: BEN-LUDAS (Benin-Land Use DyNamic Simulator) model, carbon and nitrogen equations, remote sensing and socio-economic data were used to predict the future impacts of each scenario in the environment and human systems. The preliminary results which are under analysis will be presented soon. Conclusion: The proposed BEN-LUDAS models will help to contribute to policy decision making at the local and regional scale and to predict future impacts of change in the environment and socio-economic status of the rural communities. Keywords: Land use scenarios development, BEN-LUDAS, socio-economic status of rural communities, future impacts of change, assessment, West African Sudan savanna watershed, Benin

  14. Insights into the Management of Large Carnivores for Profitable Wildlife-Based Land Uses in African Savannas

    PubMed Central

    Funston, Paul J.; Groom, Rosemary J.; Lindsey, Peter A.

    2013-01-01

    Large African predators, especially lions (Panthera leo) and leopards (Panthera pardus), are financially valuable for ecotourism and trophy hunting operations on land also utilized for the production of other wildlife species for the same purpose. Predation of ungulates used for trophy hunting can create conflict with landholders and trade off thus exists between the value of lions and leopards and their impact on ungulate populations. Therefore productionist and conservation trade-offs are complexly graded and difficult to resolve. We investigated this with a risk-benefit analysis on a large private wildlife production area in Zimbabwe. Our model showed that lions result in substantial financial costs through predation on wild ungulates that may not be offset by profits from hunting them, whereas the returns from trophy hunting of leopards are projected to exceed the costs due to leopard predation. In the absence of additional income derived from photo-tourism the number of lions may need to be managed to minimize their impact. Lions drive important ecological processes, but there is a need to balance ecological and financial imperatives on wildlife ranches, community wildlife lands and other categories of multiple use land used for wildlife production. This will ensure the competitiveness of wildlife based land uses relative to alternatives. Our findings may thus be limited to conservancies, community land-use areas and commercial game ranches, which are expansive in Africa, and should not necessarily applied to areas where biodiversity conservation is the primary objective, even if hunting is allowed there. PMID:23527083

  15. Insights into the management of large carnivores for profitable wildlife-based land uses in African savannas.

    PubMed

    Funston, Paul J; Groom, Rosemary J; Lindsey, Peter A

    2013-01-01

    Large African predators, especially lions (Panthera leo) and leopards (Panthera pardus), are financially valuable for ecotourism and trophy hunting operations on land also utilized for the production of other wildlife species for the same purpose. Predation of ungulates used for trophy hunting can create conflict with landholders and trade off thus exists between the value of lions and leopards and their impact on ungulate populations. Therefore productionist and conservation trade-offs are complexly graded and difficult to resolve. We investigated this with a risk-benefit analysis on a large private wildlife production area in Zimbabwe. Our model showed that lions result in substantial financial costs through predation on wild ungulates that may not be offset by profits from hunting them, whereas the returns from trophy hunting of leopards are projected to exceed the costs due to leopard predation. In the absence of additional income derived from photo-tourism the number of lions may need to be managed to minimize their impact. Lions drive important ecological processes, but there is a need to balance ecological and financial imperatives on wildlife ranches, community wildlife lands and other categories of multiple use land used for wildlife production. This will ensure the competitiveness of wildlife based land uses relative to alternatives. Our findings may thus be limited to conservancies, community land-use areas and commercial game ranches, which are expansive in Africa, and should not necessarily applied to areas where biodiversity conservation is the primary objective, even if hunting is allowed there. PMID:23527083

  16. Insights into the management of large carnivores for profitable wildlife-based land uses in African savannas.

    PubMed

    Funston, Paul J; Groom, Rosemary J; Lindsey, Peter A

    2013-01-01

    Large African predators, especially lions (Panthera leo) and leopards (Panthera pardus), are financially valuable for ecotourism and trophy hunting operations on land also utilized for the production of other wildlife species for the same purpose. Predation of ungulates used for trophy hunting can create conflict with landholders and trade off thus exists between the value of lions and leopards and their impact on ungulate populations. Therefore productionist and conservation trade-offs are complexly graded and difficult to resolve. We investigated this with a risk-benefit analysis on a large private wildlife production area in Zimbabwe. Our model showed that lions result in substantial financial costs through predation on wild ungulates that may not be offset by profits from hunting them, whereas the returns from trophy hunting of leopards are projected to exceed the costs due to leopard predation. In the absence of additional income derived from photo-tourism the number of lions may need to be managed to minimize their impact. Lions drive important ecological processes, but there is a need to balance ecological and financial imperatives on wildlife ranches, community wildlife lands and other categories of multiple use land used for wildlife production. This will ensure the competitiveness of wildlife based land uses relative to alternatives. Our findings may thus be limited to conservancies, community land-use areas and commercial game ranches, which are expansive in Africa, and should not necessarily applied to areas where biodiversity conservation is the primary objective, even if hunting is allowed there.

  17. Dry deposition of nitrogen compounds (NO2, HNO3, NH3), sulfur dioxide and ozone in west and central African ecosystems using the inferential method

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Adon, M.; Galy-Lacaux, C.; Delon, C.; Yoboue, V.; Solmon, F.; Kaptue Tchuente, A. T.

    2013-11-01

    This work is part of the IDAF program (IGAC-DEBITS-AFRICA) and is based on the long-term monitoring of gas concentrations (1998-2007) established at seven remote sites representative of major African ecosystems. Dry deposition fluxes were estimated by the inferential method using on the one hand surface measurements of gas concentrations (NO2, HNO3, NH3, SO2 and O3) and on the other hand modeled exchange rates. Dry deposition velocities (Vd) were calculated using the big-leaf model of Zhang et al. (2003b). The bidirectional approach is used for NH3 surface-atmosphere exchange (Zhang et al., 2010). Surface and meteorological conditions specific to IDAF sites have been used in the models of deposition. The seasonal and annual mean variations of gaseous dry deposition fluxes (NO2, HNO3, NH3, O3 and SO2) are analyzed. Along the latitudinal transect of ecosystems, the annual mean dry deposition fluxes of nitrogen compounds range from -0.4 to -0.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1 for NO2, from -0.7 to -1.0 kg N ha-1 yr-1 for HNO3 and from -0.7 to -8.3 kg N ha-1 yr-1 for NH3 over the study period (1998-2007). The total nitrogen dry deposition flux (NO2+HNO3+NH3) is more important in forests (-10 kg N ha-1 yr-1) than in wet and dry savannas (-1.6 to -3.9 kg N ha-1 yr-1). The annual mean dry deposition fluxes of ozone range between -11 and -19 kg ha-1 yr-1 in dry and wet savannas, and -11 and -13 kg ha-1 yr-1 in forests. Lowest O3 dry deposition fluxes in forests are correlated to low measured O3 concentrations, lower by a factor of 2-3, compared to other ecosystems. Along the ecosystem transect, the annual mean of SO2 dry deposition fluxes presents low values and a small variability (-0.5 to -1 kg S ha-1 yr-1). No specific trend in the interannual variability of these gaseous dry deposition fluxes is observed over the study period.

  18. Snapshot Serengeti, high-frequency annotated camera trap images of 40 mammalian species in an African savanna

    PubMed Central

    Swanson, Alexandra; Kosmala, Margaret; Lintott, Chris; Simpson, Robert; Smith, Arfon; Packer, Craig

    2015-01-01

    Camera traps can be used to address large-scale questions in community ecology by providing systematic data on an array of wide-ranging species. We deployed 225 camera traps across 1,125 km2 in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, to evaluate spatial and temporal inter-species dynamics. The cameras have operated continuously since 2010 and had accumulated 99,241 camera-trap days and produced 1.2 million sets of pictures by 2013. Members of the general public classified the images via the citizen-science website www.snapshotserengeti.org. Multiple users viewed each image and recorded the species, number of individuals, associated behaviours, and presence of young. Over 28,000 registered users contributed 10.8 million classifications. We applied a simple algorithm to aggregate these individual classifications into a final ‘consensus’ dataset, yielding a final classification for each image and a measure of agreement among individual answers. The consensus classifications and raw imagery provide an unparalleled opportunity to investigate multi-species dynamics in an intact ecosystem and a valuable resource for machine-learning and computer-vision research. PMID:26097743

  19. Snapshot Serengeti, high-frequency annotated camera trap images of 40 mammalian species in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Swanson, Alexandra; Kosmala, Margaret; Lintott, Chris; Simpson, Robert; Smith, Arfon; Packer, Craig

    2015-01-01

    Camera traps can be used to address large-scale questions in community ecology by providing systematic data on an array of wide-ranging species. We deployed 225 camera traps across 1,125 km(2) in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, to evaluate spatial and temporal inter-species dynamics. The cameras have operated continuously since 2010 and had accumulated 99,241 camera-trap days and produced 1.2 million sets of pictures by 2013. Members of the general public classified the images via the citizen-science website www.snapshotserengeti.org. Multiple users viewed each image and recorded the species, number of individuals, associated behaviours, and presence of young. Over 28,000 registered users contributed 10.8 million classifications. We applied a simple algorithm to aggregate these individual classifications into a final 'consensus' dataset, yielding a final classification for each image and a measure of agreement among individual answers. The consensus classifications and raw imagery provide an unparalleled opportunity to investigate multi-species dynamics in an intact ecosystem and a valuable resource for machine-learning and computer-vision research.

  20. The ongoing development of a pragmatic and adaptive fire management policy in a large African savanna protected area.

    PubMed

    van Wilgen, Brian W; Govender, Navashni; Smit, Izak P J; MacFadyen, Sandra

    2014-01-01

    This paper describes recent changes to the fire management policy of the 1.9 million ha Kruger National Park in South Africa. It provides a real-life example of adaptive learning in an environment where understanding is incomplete, but where management nonetheless has to proceed. The previous policy called for the application of fire to meet burnt area targets that were set for administrative subdivisions, and that were assessed at the scale of the entire park. This was problematic because the park is large and heterogeneous, and because sound ecological motivations that could link burning prescriptions to ecological objectives were missing. The new policy divides the park into five fire management zones on the basis of differences in mean annual rainfall, historic fire return periods, and geology. In addition, it proposes fire management actions designed to achieve specified ecological objectives in each zone, and includes fire-regime related thresholds and associated ecological outcomes against which to assess the effectiveness of management. The new policy is an improvement over previous iterations, but several challenges remain. Most important among these would be to continually improve the understanding of the effects of fire, and to develop frameworks for assessing the impacts of fire together with other ecosystem drivers that interact strongly with fire to influence the attainment of ecological objectives.

  1. Fire in Australian savannas: from leaf to landscape

    PubMed Central

    Beringer, Jason; Hutley, Lindsay B; Abramson, David; Arndt, Stefan K; Briggs, Peter; Bristow, Mila; Canadell, Josep G; Cernusak, Lucas A; Eamus, Derek; Edwards, Andrew C; Evans, Bradley J; Fest, Benedikt; Goergen, Klaus; Grover, Samantha P; Hacker, Jorg; Haverd, Vanessa; Kanniah, Kasturi; Livesley, Stephen J; Lynch, Amanda; Maier, Stefan; Moore, Caitlin; Raupach, Michael; Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Scheiter, Simon; Tapper, Nigel J; Uotila, Petteri

    2015-01-01

    Savanna ecosystems comprise 22% of the global terrestrial surface and 25% of Australia (almost 1.9 million km2) and provide significant ecosystem services through carbon and water cycles and the maintenance of biodiversity. The current structure, composition and distribution of Australian savannas have coevolved with fire, yet remain driven by the dynamic constraints of their bioclimatic niche. Fire in Australian savannas influences both the biophysical and biogeochemical processes at multiple scales from leaf to landscape. Here, we present the latest emission estimates from Australian savanna biomass burning and their contribution to global greenhouse gas budgets. We then review our understanding of the impacts of fire on ecosystem function and local surface water and heat balances, which in turn influence regional climate. We show how savanna fires are coupled to the global climate through the carbon cycle and fire regimes. We present new research that climate change is likely to alter the structure and function of savannas through shifts in moisture availability and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in turn altering fire regimes with further feedbacks to climate. We explore opportunities to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from savanna ecosystems through changes in savanna fire management. PMID:25044767

  2. Fire in Australian savannas: from leaf to landscape.

    PubMed

    Beringer, Jason; Hutley, Lindsay B; Abramson, David; Arndt, Stefan K; Briggs, Peter; Bristow, Mila; Canadell, Josep G; Cernusak, Lucas A; Eamus, Derek; Edwards, Andrew C; Evans, Bradley J; Fest, Benedikt; Goergen, Klaus; Grover, Samantha P; Hacker, Jorg; Haverd, Vanessa; Kanniah, Kasturi; Livesley, Stephen J; Lynch, Amanda; Maier, Stefan; Moore, Caitlin; Raupach, Michael; Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Scheiter, Simon; Tapper, Nigel J; Uotila, Petteri

    2015-01-01

    Savanna ecosystems comprise 22% of the global terrestrial surface and 25% of Australia (almost 1.9 million km2) and provide significant ecosystem services through carbon and water cycles and the maintenance of biodiversity. The current structure, composition and distribution of Australian savannas have coevolved with fire, yet remain driven by the dynamic constraints of their bioclimatic niche. Fire in Australian savannas influences both the biophysical and biogeochemical processes at multiple scales from leaf to landscape. Here, we present the latest emission estimates from Australian savanna biomass burning and their contribution to global greenhouse gas budgets. We then review our understanding of the impacts of fire on ecosystem function and local surface water and heat balances, which in turn influence regional climate. We show how savanna fires are coupled to the global climate through the carbon cycle and fire regimes. We present new research that climate change is likely to alter the structure and function of savannas through shifts in moisture availability and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, in turn altering fire regimes with further feedbacks to climate. We explore opportunities to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from savanna ecosystems through changes in savanna fire management.

  3. Fire in Australian Savannas: from leaf to landscape

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Beringer, J.

    2015-12-01

    Savanna ecosystems comprise 22% of the global terrestrial surface and 25% of Australia (almost 1.9 million km2) and provide significant ecosystem services through carbon and water cycles and the maintenance of biodiversity. The current structure, composition and distribution of Australian savannas have co-evolved with fire, yet remain driven by the dynamic constraints of their bioclimatic niche. Fire in Australian savannas influences both the biophysical and biogeochemical processes at multiple scales from leaf to landscape. Here we present the latest emission estimates from Australian savanna biomass burning and their contribution to global greenhouse gas budgets. We then review our understanding of the impacts of fire on ecosystem function and local surface water and heat balances, which in turn influence regional climate. We show how savanna fires are coupled to the global climate through the carbon cycle and fire regimes. We present new research that climate change is likely to alter the structure and function of savannas through shifts in moisture availability and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), in turn altering fire regimes with further feedbacks to climate. We explore opportunities to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from savanna ecosystems through changes in savanna fire management.

  4. Measuring conditions and trends in ecosystem services at multiple scales: the Southern African Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (SAfMA) experience

    PubMed Central

    van Jaarsveld, A.S; Biggs, R; Scholes, R.J; Bohensky, E; Reyers, B; Lynam, T; Musvoto, C; Fabricius, C

    2005-01-01

    The Southern African Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (SAfMA) evaluated the relationships between ecosystem services and human well-being at multiple scales, ranging from local through to sub-continental. Trends in ecosystem services (fresh water, food, fuel-wood, cultural and biodiversity) over the period 1990–2000 were mixed across scales. Freshwater resources appear strained across the continent with large numbers of people not securing adequate supplies, especially of good quality water. This translates to high infant mortality patterns across the region. In some areas, the use of water resources for irrigated agriculture and urban–industrial expansion is taking place at considerable cost to the quality and quantity of freshwater available to ecosystems and for domestic use. Staple cereal production across the region has increased but was outstripped by population growth while protein malnutrition is on the rise. The much-anticipated wood-fuel crisis on the subcontinent has not materialized but some areas are experiencing shortages while numerous others remain vulnerable. Cultural benefits of biodiversity are considerable, though hard to quantify or track over time. Biodiversity resources remain at reasonable levels, but are declining faster than reflected in species extinction rates and appear highly sensitive to land-use decisions. The SAfMA sub-global assessment provided an opportunity to experiment with innovative ways to assess ecosystem services including the use of supply–demand surfaces, service sources and sink areas, priority areas for service provision, service ‘hotspots’ and trade-off assessments. PMID:15814355

  5. Measuring conditions and trends in ecosystem services at multiple scales: the Southern African Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (SAfMA) experience.

    PubMed

    van Jaarsveld, A S; Biggs, R; Scholes, R J; Bohensky, E; Reyers, B; Lynam, T; Musvoto, C; Fabricius, C

    2005-02-28

    The Southern African Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (SAfMA) evaluated the relationships between ecosystem services and human well-being at multiple scales, ranging from local through to sub-continental. Trends in ecosystem services (fresh water, food, fuel-wood, cultural and biodiversity) over the period 1990-2000 were mixed across scales. Freshwater resources appear strained across the continent with large numbers of people not securing adequate supplies, especially of good quality water. This translates to high infant mortality patterns across the region. In some areas, the use of water resources for irrigated agriculture and urban-industrial expansion is taking place at considerable cost to the quality and quantity of freshwater available to ecosystems and for domestic use. Staple cereal production across the region has increased but was outstripped by population growth while protein malnutrition is on the rise. The much-anticipated wood-fuel crisis on the subcontinent has not materialized but some areas are experiencing shortages while numerous others remain vulnerable. Cultural benefits of biodiversity are considerable, though hard to quantify or track over time. Biodiversity resources remain at reasonable levels, but are declining faster than reflected in species extinction rates and appear highly sensitive to land-use decisions. The SAfMA sub-global assessment provided an opportunity to experiment with innovative ways to assess ecosystem services including the use of supply-demand surfaces, service sources and sink areas, priority areas for service provision, service 'hotspots' and trade-off assessments.

  6. The effects of past climate variability on fire and vegetation in the cerrãdo savanna ecosystem of the Huanchaca Mesetta, Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, NE Bolivia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Maezumi, S. Y.; Power, M. J.; Mayle, F. E.; McLauchlan, K.; Iriarte, J.

    2015-01-01

    than anthropogenic drivers control the vegetation and fire activity at Huanchaca Mesetta. Thus the cerrãdo savanna ecosystem of the Huanchaca Plateau has exhibited ecosystem resilience to major climatic changes in both temperature and precipitation since the Late Glacial period.

  7. Failure of correct evapotranspiration measurements by eddy covariance under certain conditions and energy balance closure in open-oak savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pérez-Priego, Oscar; Migliavacca, Mirco; El-Madany, Tarek; Carrara, Arnaud; Moreno, Gerardo; Kolle, Olaf; Reichstein, Markus

    2016-04-01

    Separation of evapotranspiration (ET) into its components represents one of the main ecohydrological challenges in heterogeneous ecosystems (i.e. tree-grass savanna), where two main evaporative layers consisting of tree canopy (ETabove) and its underlying surface (ETsubcanopy) dominate ET. The challenge arises from the fact that classical eddy covariance 1) directly only measures total ET and 2) biases in the respective energy balance are often observed. Here, we address these challenges in a Mediterranean savannah tree-grass ecosystem, by synchronous, combined measurements via classical eddy covariance, sub-canopy eddy covariance, sap-flow, and replicated lysimeters. To this end, half-hourly latent heat fluxes of the grass layer estimated using six novel lower boundary-tension and -temperature controlled lysimeters (LEsubcanopy-lysimeter)were compared to those measured by a sub-canopy eddy covariance tower placed at 1.8 m (LEsubcanopy-eddy) over a year. To explain the residuals (epsilon) between LEsubcanopy-lysimeter and LEsubcanopy-eddy , we trained a random forest model (RF) using soil moisture (SM), ground-heat fluxes (G), net radiation (Rn), air relative humidity (RH) and friction velocity (u*) as main predictor variables. The degree of energy closure was evaluated by comparing residual LE (LEresidual, estimated as Rn-H-G; H denotes sensible heat flux) against total LE measured by a tall tower installed above the canopy at 15 m (LEeddy). In parallel, we contrasted this using independent, upscaled LE (LEupscaled= LEsubcanopy-lysimeter + LEabove-sapflow; being LEabove-sapflow the tree component derived from sap-flow measurements) to test whether failures in LEeddy explain the lack of energy balance closure. In such a case, we test the use of RF as a generalized approach to estimate epsilon and correct for LEeddy (LEeddy-corrected = LEeddy + epsilon). As main results, the comparison of independent LEsubcanopy-eddy and LEsubcanopy-lysimeter evidenced that eddy

  8. Failure of correct evapotranspiration measurements by eddy covariance under certain conditions and energy balance closure in open-oak savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pérez-Priego, Oscar; Migliavacca, Mirco; El-Madany, Tarek; Carrara, Arnaud; Moreno, Gerardo; Kolle, Olaf; Reichstein, Markus

    2016-04-01

    Separation of evapotranspiration (ET) into its components represents one of the main ecohydrological challenges in heterogeneous ecosystems (i.e. tree-grass savanna), where two main evaporative layers consisting of tree canopy (ETabove) and its underlying surface (ETsubcanopy) dominate ET. The challenge arises from the fact that classical eddy covariance 1) directly only measures total ET and 2) biases in the respective energy balance are often observed. Here, we address these challenges in a Mediterranean savannah tree-grass ecosystem, by synchronous, combined measurements via classical eddy covariance, sub-canopy eddy covariance, sap-flow, and replicated lysimeters. To this end, half-hourly latent heat fluxes of the grass layer estimated using six novel lower boundary-tension and -temperature controlled lysimeters (LEsubcanopy‑lysimeter)were compared to those measured by a sub-canopy eddy covariance tower placed at 1.8 m (LEsubcanopy‑eddy) over a year. To explain the residuals (epsilon) between LEsubcanopy‑lysimeter and LEsubcanopy‑eddy , we trained a random forest model (RF) using soil moisture (SM), ground-heat fluxes (G), net radiation (Rn), air relative humidity (RH) and friction velocity (u*) as main predictor variables. The degree of energy closure was evaluated by comparing residual LE (LEresidual, estimated as Rn-H-G; H denotes sensible heat flux) against total LE measured by a tall tower installed above the canopy at 15 m (LEeddy). In parallel, we contrasted this using independent, upscaled LE (LEupscaled= LEsubcanopy‑lysimeter + LEabove‑sapflow; being LEabove‑sapflow the tree component derived from sap-flow measurements) to test whether failures in LEeddy explain the lack of energy balance closure. In such a case, we test the use of RF as a generalized approach to estimate epsilon and correct for LEeddy (LEeddy‑corrected = LEeddy + epsilon). As main results, the comparison of independent LEsubcanopy‑eddy and LEsubcanopy

  9. Ecosystem management mitigates climate change induced vegetation shifts in West Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Scheiter, S.; Savadogo, P.

    2013-12-01

    Savannas serve as benefit to livelihood for many people in the tropics and sub-tropics and welfare of people strongly depends on goods and services that savanna ecosystems provide, such as food production, livestock production, fuel wool, species richness and climate stabilization. Yet, the flow of these ecosystem services is strongly influenced by climate change and land use. Due to the large proportion of the Earth's land surface covered by savannas, changes in the dynamics and structure of savanna vegetation may not only influence the conditions for the local population, but may also have strong impacts on the climate system and global biogeochemical cycles. In this study, we use a dynamic vegetation model, the aDGVM, to explore how climate and land use interact to influence vegetation dynamics and the distribution of west African savannas under ambient and future environmental conditions. More specifically, we investigate fire management, wood cutting and grazing, land use activities often applied in savannas. We show that under future conditions and in the absence of land use, large savanna areas could shift towards a more wood dominated vegetation state due to CO2 fertilization effects, increases in water use efficiency and decreases in fire activity. However, land use has the potential to maintain desired vegetation states that ensure the flux of important ecosystem services even under future conditions. The model projects that ecosystem management can compensate climate change impacts on vegetation and delay or avoid critical biome shifts. This study highlights the impacts of land use and management on vegetation dynamics and the future distribution of savannas and the necessity to include land use into assessments of the future vegetation state.

  10. Disaggregating tree and grass phenology in tropical savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zhou, Qiang

    Savannas are mixed tree-grass systems and as one of the world's largest biomes represent an important component of the Earth system affecting water and energy balances, carbon sequestration and biodiversity as well as supporting large human populations. Savanna vegetation structure and its distribution, however, may change because of major anthropogenic disturbances from climate change, wildfire, agriculture, and livestock production. The overstory and understory may have different water use strategies, different nutrient requirements and have different responses to fire and climate variation. The accurate measurement of the spatial distribution and structure of the overstory and understory are essential for understanding the savanna ecosystem. This project developed a workflow for separating the dynamics of the overstory and understory fractional cover in savannas at the continental scale (Australia, South America, and Africa). Previous studies have successfully separated the phenology of Australian savanna vegetation into persistent and seasonal greenness using time series decomposition, and into fractions of photosynthetic vegetation (PV), non-photosynthetic vegetation (NPV) and bare soil (BS) using linear unmixing. This study combined these methods to separate the understory and overstory signal in both the green and senescent phenological stages using remotely sensed imagery from the MODIS (MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) sensor. The methods and parameters were adjusted based on the vegetation variation. The workflow was first tested at the Australian site. Here the PV estimates for overstory and understory showed best performance, however NPV estimates exhibited spatial variation in validation relationships. At the South American site (Cerrado), an additional method based on frequency unmixing was developed to separate green vegetation components with similar phenology. When the decomposition and frequency methods were compared, the frequency

  11. Precipitation chemistry and wet deposition in a remote wet savanna site in West Africa: Djougou (Benin)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Akpo, A. B.; Galy-Lacaux, C.; Laouali, D.; Delon, C.; Liousse, C.; Adon, M.; Gardrat, E.; Mariscal, A.; Darakpa, C.

    2015-08-01

    , biomass burning and biofuel combustions. The second highest contribution is the calcium ion (13.3 μeq·L-1), characteristic of dust aerosols from terrigenous sources, Calcium contributes up to 46% of the precipitation chemistry in Djougou. Finally, these results are compared to those obtained for other selected African sites representative of other main natural ecosystems: dry savanna and forest. The study of the African ecosystem transect indicates a pH gradient with more acidic pH in the forested ecosystem. Nitrogenous contribution to the chemical composition of rain in Lamto, wet savanna, (24%) is equivalent to the one estimated in Djougou (24%). The last contribution concerns organic acidity, which represents 7% of total ionic content of precipitation at Djougou. The relative particulate contribution PC and the relative gaseous contribution GC are calculated using the mean chemical composition measured in Djougou for the studied period. The comparison with other African sites gives 40% and 43% PC in wet savannas of Lamto (Côte d'Ivoire) and Djougou (Benin) respectively, 20% PC in the equatorial forest of Zoetele (Cameroon) and 80% PC in dry savanna of Banizoumbou (Niger). The results shown here indicate the existence of a North-South gradients of organic, marine, terrigenous and nitrogenous contributions along the transect in West and Central Africa.

  12. Large herbivores facilitate savanna tree establishment via diverse and indirect pathways.

    PubMed

    Goheen, Jacob R; Palmer, Todd M; Keesing, Felicia; Riginos, Corinna; Young, Truman P

    2010-03-01

    1. Savanna ecosystems are defined largely by tree-grass mixtures, and tree establishment is a key driver of community structure and ecosystem function in these systems. The factors controlling savanna tree establishment are understudied, but likely involve some combination of seed, microsite and predator/fire limitation. In African savannas, suppression and killing of adult trees by large mammals like elephants (Loxodonta africana Blumenbach, 1797) and giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis Linnaeus, 1758) can maintain tree-grass co-dominance, although the impacts of even these conspicuous herbivores on tree establishment also are poorly understood. 2. We combined seed addition and predator exclusion experiments with a large-scale, long-term field manipulation of large herbivores to investigate the relative importance of seeds, microsites and predators in limiting establishment of a monodominant tree (Acacia drepanolobium Sjostedt) in a Kenyan savanna. 3. Both wild and domestic (i.e. cattle; Bos taurus Linnaeus, 1758) large herbivores facilitated tree establishment by suppressing abundances of rodents, the most important seed and seedling predators. However, this indirect, positive effect of wild herbivores was negated by wild herbivores' suppression of seed production. Cattle did not have this direct, negative impact; rather, they further assisted tree establishment by reducing cover of understorey grasses. Thus, the impacts of both groups of large herbivores on tree establishment were largely routed through other taxa, with a negligible net effect of wild herbivores and a positive net effect of cattle on tree establishment. 4. The distinction between the (positive) net effect of cattle and (neutral) net effect of wild herbivores is due to the inclusion of browsers and mixed feeders within the assemblage of wild herbivores. Browsing by wild herbivores limited seed production, which reduced tree recruitment; grazing by cattle was more pronounced than that by wild

  13. Large herbivores facilitate savanna tree establishment via diverse and indirect pathways.

    PubMed

    Goheen, Jacob R; Palmer, Todd M; Keesing, Felicia; Riginos, Corinna; Young, Truman P

    2010-03-01

    1. Savanna ecosystems are defined largely by tree-grass mixtures, and tree establishment is a key driver of community structure and ecosystem function in these systems. The factors controlling savanna tree establishment are understudied, but likely involve some combination of seed, microsite and predator/fire limitation. In African savannas, suppression and killing of adult trees by large mammals like elephants (Loxodonta africana Blumenbach, 1797) and giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis Linnaeus, 1758) can maintain tree-grass co-dominance, although the impacts of even these conspicuous herbivores on tree establishment also are poorly understood. 2. We combined seed addition and predator exclusion experiments with a large-scale, long-term field manipulation of large herbivores to investigate the relative importance of seeds, microsites and predators in limiting establishment of a monodominant tree (Acacia drepanolobium Sjostedt) in a Kenyan savanna. 3. Both wild and domestic (i.e. cattle; Bos taurus Linnaeus, 1758) large herbivores facilitated tree establishment by suppressing abundances of rodents, the most important seed and seedling predators. However, this indirect, positive effect of wild herbivores was negated by wild herbivores' suppression of seed production. Cattle did not have this direct, negative impact; rather, they further assisted tree establishment by reducing cover of understorey grasses. Thus, the impacts of both groups of large herbivores on tree establishment were largely routed through other taxa, with a negligible net effect of wild herbivores and a positive net effect of cattle on tree establishment. 4. The distinction between the (positive) net effect of cattle and (neutral) net effect of wild herbivores is due to the inclusion of browsers and mixed feeders within the assemblage of wild herbivores. Browsing by wild herbivores limited seed production, which reduced tree recruitment; grazing by cattle was more pronounced than that by wild

  14. Effects of tree harvest on the stable-state dynamics of savanna and forest.

    PubMed

    Tredennick, Andrew T; Hanan, Niall P

    2015-05-01

    Contemporary theory on the maintenance and stability of the savanna biome has focused extensively on how climate and disturbances interact to affect tree growth and demography. In particular, the role of fire in reducing tree cover from climatic maxima is now well appreciated, and in certain cases, herbivory also strongly affects tree cover. However, in African savannas and forests, harvest of trees by humans for cooking and heating is an oft overlooked disturbance. Thus, we incorporate tree harvest into a population dynamic model of grasses, savanna saplings, savanna trees, and forest trees. We use assumptions about the differential demographic responses of savanna trees and forest trees to harvest to show how tree harvest influences tree cover, demography, and community composition. Tree harvest can erode the intrinsic basin of attraction for forest and make a state transition via fire to savanna more likely. The savanna state is generally resilient to all but high levels of tree harvest because of the resprouting abilities of savanna trees. In the absence of active fire suppression, our analysis suggests that we can expect to see large and potentially irreversible shifts from forest to savanna as demand increases for charcoal in sub-Saharan Africa. On the other hand, savanna tree species' traits promote savanna stability in the face of low to moderate harvest pressure. PMID:25905514

  15. Changes in grass plant populations and temporal soil seed bank dynamics in a semi-arid African savanna: Implications for restoration.

    PubMed

    Tessema, Zewdu K; de Boer, Willem F; Prins, Herbert H T

    2016-11-01

    The re-colonization or recovery of grass species after disappearance due to heavy grazing depends on the presence of persistent soil seed banks that might be accumulated over time from the aboveground vegetation. Moreover, successful plant recruitment is a function of seed production, seed germination and seedling survival, which can be mechanistically understood through studying the life cycle processes of grass species populations under field conditions. Therefore, we studied the number of germinable seeds, species richness and life-forms in the soil seed banks under light and heavy grazing conditions, and the changes in grass species populations in a semi-arid savanna of Ethiopia. Accordingly, a total of 103 species (15 perennial and 29 annual grasses, 6 legumes, 52 forbs and 1 woody species) emerged from the soil samples collected. Lightly grazed sites had a higher seed density compared with heavily grazed sites. The seed density increased over the first three months of soil sampling and decreased thereafter. Perennial grasses dominated the light grazing sites, whereas annual species dominated the heavily grazed sites, indicating that perennial grasses were replaced by annual species in the soil seed bank through grazing. The mean mortality rate from the seedling stage to adult plants was 65%. The seed-to-seedling stage was found to be the most critical transitional stage for grass survival. High seedling mortality in the aboveground vegetation and depletion of seeds in the soil seed banks as a result of sustained heavy grazing can lead to local extinction and disappearance of perennial grasses in semi-arid Ethiopian savannas. PMID:27472053

  16. Fire-free land use in pre-1492 Amazonian savannas.

    PubMed

    Iriarte, José; Power, Mitchell J; Rostain, Stéphen; Mayle, Francis E; Jones, Huw; Watling, Jennifer; Whitney, Bronwen S; McKey, Doyle B

    2012-04-24

    The nature and scale of pre-Columbian land use and the consequences of the 1492 "Columbian Encounter" (CE) on Amazonia are among the more debated topics in New World archaeology and paleoecology. However, pre-Columbian human impact in Amazonian savannas remains poorly understood. Most paleoecological studies have been conducted in neotropical forest contexts. Of studies done in Amazonian savannas, none has the temporal resolution needed to detect changes induced by either climate or humans before and after A.D. 1492, and only a few closely integrate paleoecological and archaeological data. We report a high-resolution 2,150-y paleoecological record from a French Guianan coastal savanna that forces reconsideration of how pre-Columbian savanna peoples practiced raised-field agriculture and how the CE impacted these societies and environments. Our combined pollen, phytolith, and charcoal analyses reveal unexpectedly low levels of biomass burning associated with pre-A.D. 1492 savanna raised-field agriculture and a sharp increase in fires following the arrival of Europeans. We show that pre-Columbian raised-field farmers limited burning to improve agricultural production, contrasting with extensive use of fire in pre-Columbian tropical forest and Central American savanna environments, as well as in present-day savannas. The charcoal record indicates that extensive fires in the seasonally flooded savannas of French Guiana are a post-Columbian phenomenon, postdating the collapse of indigenous populations. The discovery that pre-Columbian farmers practiced fire-free savanna management calls into question the widely held assumption that pre-Columbian Amazonian farmers pervasively used fire to manage and alter ecosystems and offers fresh perspectives on an emerging alternative approach to savanna land use and conservation that can help reduce carbon emissions.

  17. Fire-free land use in pre-1492 Amazonian savannas

    PubMed Central

    Iriarte, José; Power, Mitchell J.; Rostain, Stéphen; Mayle, Francis E.; Jones, Huw; Watling, Jennifer; Whitney, Bronwen S.; McKey, Doyle B.

    2012-01-01

    The nature and scale of pre-Columbian land use and the consequences of the 1492 “Columbian Encounter” (CE) on Amazonia are among the more debated topics in New World archaeology and paleoecology. However, pre-Columbian human impact in Amazonian savannas remains poorly understood. Most paleoecological studies have been conducted in neotropical forest contexts. Of studies done in Amazonian savannas, none has the temporal resolution needed to detect changes induced by either climate or humans before and after A.D. 1492, and only a few closely integrate paleoecological and archaeological data. We report a high-resolution 2,150-y paleoecological record from a French Guianan coastal savanna that forces reconsideration of how pre-Columbian savanna peoples practiced raised-field agriculture and how the CE impacted these societies and environments. Our combined pollen, phytolith, and charcoal analyses reveal unexpectedly low levels of biomass burning associated with pre-A.D. 1492 savanna raised-field agriculture and a sharp increase in fires following the arrival of Europeans. We show that pre-Columbian raised-field farmers limited burning to improve agricultural production, contrasting with extensive use of fire in pre-Columbian tropical forest and Central American savanna environments, as well as in present-day savannas. The charcoal record indicates that extensive fires in the seasonally flooded savannas of French Guiana are a post-Columbian phenomenon, postdating the collapse of indigenous populations. The discovery that pre-Columbian farmers practiced fire-free savanna management calls into question the widely held assumption that pre-Columbian Amazonian farmers pervasively used fire to manage and alter ecosystems and offers fresh perspectives on an emerging alternative approach to savanna land use and conservation that can help reduce carbon emissions. PMID:22493248

  18. Savanna Tree Seedlings are Physiologically Tolerant to Nighttime Freeze Events

    PubMed Central

    O’Keefe, Kimberly; Nippert, Jesse B.; Swemmer, Anthony M.

    2016-01-01

    Freeze events can be important disturbances in savanna ecosystems, yet the interactive effect of freezing with other environmental drivers on plant functioning is unknown. Here, we investigated physiological responses of South African tree seedlings to interactions of water availability and freezing temperatures. We grew widely distributed South African tree species (Colophospermum mopane, Combretum apiculatum, Acacia nigrescens, and Cassia abbreviata) under well-watered and water-limited conditions and exposed individuals to nighttime freeze events. Of the four species studied here, C. mopane was the most tolerant of lower water availability. However, all species were similarly tolerant to nighttime freezing and recovered within one week following the last freezing event. We also show that water limitation somewhat increased freezing tolerance in one of the species (C. mopane). Therefore, water limitation, but not freezing temperatures, may restrict the distribution of these species, although the interactions of these stressors may have species-specific impacts on plant physiology. Ultimately, we show that unique physiologies can exist among dominant species within communities and that combined stresses may play a currently unidentified role in driving the function of certain species within southern Africa. PMID:26870065

  19. Savanna Tree Seedlings are Physiologically Tolerant to Nighttime Freeze Events.

    PubMed

    O'Keefe, Kimberly; Nippert, Jesse B; Swemmer, Anthony M

    2016-01-01

    Freeze events can be important disturbances in savanna ecosystems, yet the interactive effect of freezing with other environmental drivers on plant functioning is unknown. Here, we investigated physiological responses of South African tree seedlings to interactions of water availability and freezing temperatures. We grew widely distributed South African tree species (Colophospermum mopane, Combretum apiculatum, Acacia nigrescens, and Cassia abbreviata) under well-watered and water-limited conditions and exposed individuals to nighttime freeze events. Of the four species studied here, C. mopane was the most tolerant of lower water availability. However, all species were similarly tolerant to nighttime freezing and recovered within one week following the last freezing event. We also show that water limitation somewhat increased freezing tolerance in one of the species (C. mopane). Therefore, water limitation, but not freezing temperatures, may restrict the distribution of these species, although the interactions of these stressors may have species-specific impacts on plant physiology. Ultimately, we show that unique physiologies can exist among dominant species within communities and that combined stresses may play a currently unidentified role in driving the function of certain species within southern Africa. PMID:26870065

  20. Exploring the potential offered by legacy soil databases for ecosystem services mapping of Central African soils

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Verdoodt, Ann; Baert, Geert; Van Ranst, Eric

    2014-05-01

    Central African soil resources are characterised by a large variability, ranging from stony, shallow or sandy soils with poor life-sustaining capabilities to highly weathered soils that recycle and support large amounts of biomass. Socio-economic drivers within this largely rural region foster inappropriate land use and management, threaten soil quality and finally culminate into a declining soil productivity and increasing food insecurity. For the development of sustainable land use strategies targeting development planning and natural hazard mitigation, decision makers often rely on legacy soil maps and soil profile databases. Recent development cooperation financed projects led to the design of soil information systems for Rwanda, D.R. Congo, and (ongoing) Burundi. A major challenge is to exploit these existing soil databases and convert them into soil inference systems through an optimal combination of digital soil mapping techniques, land evaluation tools, and biogeochemical models. This presentation aims at (1) highlighting some key characteristics of typical Central African soils, (2) assessing the positional, geographic and semantic quality of the soil information systems, and (3) revealing its potential impacts on the use of these datasets for thematic mapping of soil ecosystem services (e.g. organic carbon storage, pH buffering capacity). Soil map quality is assessed considering positional and semantic quality, as well as geographic completeness. Descriptive statistics, decision tree classification and linear regression techniques are used to mine the soil profile databases. Geo-matching as well as class-matching approaches are considered when developing thematic maps. Variability in inherent as well as dynamic soil properties within the soil taxonomic units is highlighted. It is hypothesized that within-unit variation in soil properties highly affects the use and interpretation of thematic maps for ecosystem services mapping. Results will mainly be based

  1. EFFECTS OF PRESCRIBED FIRES ON NITROGEN FLUXES IN SAVANNA FORMATIONS OF CENTRAL BRAZIL

    EPA Science Inventory

    Savanna ecosystems are controlled by the interactions between water and nutrient availability. The savannas of Central Brazil (Cerrado) are the second most extensive plant formation in tropical South America with two million km2 of area. The Cerrado landscape contains different ...

  2. Self-thinning Concepts Applied to Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sea, W. B.; Hanan, N. P.

    2005-12-01

    scaling exponent remains invariant and corresponds favorably with results for African forests suggested by (Enquist and Niklas 2001). These findings are particularly important in addressing uncertainties in tree-grass interactions, where it appears that beyond a threshold tree size class, tree-grass interactions are largely the same. Potential impacts of soil characteristics and nutrient heterogeneity on self-thinning relationships are further hypothesized. Criticisms using self-thinning in savannas are addressed as well.

  3. Trace Gas Measurements in Nascent, Aged and Cloud-processed Smoke from Africa Savanna Fires by Airborne Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (AFTIR)

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Yokelson, Robert J.; Bertschi, Isaac T.; Christian, Ted J.; Hobbs, Peter V.; Ward, Darold E.; Hao, Wei Min

    2003-01-01

    We measured stable and reactive trace gases with an airborne Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (AFTIR) on the University of Washington Convair-580 research aircraft in August/September 2000 during the SAFARI 2000 dry season campaign in Southern Africa. The measurements included vertical profiles of C02, CO, H20, and CH4 up to 5.5 km on six occasions above instrumented ground sites and below the TERRA satellite and ER-2 high-flying research aircraft. We also measured the trace gas emissions from 10 African savanna fires. Five of these fires featured extensive ground-based fuel characterization, and two were in the humid savanna ecosystem that accounts for most African biomass burning. The major constituents we detected in nascent CH3OOH, HCHO, CH30H, HCN, NH3, HCOOH, and C2H2. These are the first quantitative measurements of the initial emissions of oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOC), NH3, and HCN from African savanna fires. On average, we measured 5.3 g/kg of OVOC and 3.6 g/kg of hydrocarbons (including CH4) in the initial emissions from the fires. Thus, the OVOC will have profound, largely unexplored effects on tropical tropospheric chemistry. The HCN emission factor was only weakly dependent on fire type; the average value (0.53 g/kg) is about 20 times that of a previous recommendation. HCN may be useful as a tracer for savanna fires. Delta O3/Delta CO and Delta CH3COO/Delta CO increased to as much as 9% in <1 h of photochemical processing downwind of fires. Direct measurements showed that cloud processing of smoke greatly reduced CH30H, NH3, CH3COOH, SO2, and NO2 levels, but significantly increased HCHO and NO.

  4. Vulnerability of native savanna trees and exotic Khaya senegalensis to seasonal drought.

    PubMed

    Arndt, Stefan K; Sanders, Gregor J; Bristow, Mila; Hutley, Lindsay B; Beringer, Jason; Livesley, Stephen J

    2015-07-01

    Seasonally dry ecosystems present a challenge to plants to maintain water relations. While native vegetation in seasonally dry ecosystems have evolved specific adaptations to the long dry season, there are risks to introduced exotic species. African mahogany, Khaya senegalensis Desr. (A. Juss.), is an exotic plantation species that has been introduced widely in Asia and northern Australia, but it is unknown if it has the physiological or phenotypic plasticity to cope with the strongly seasonal patterns of water availability in the tropical savanna climate of northern Australia. We investigated the gas exchange and water relations traits and adjustments to seasonal drought in K. senegalensis and native eucalypts (Eucalyptus tetrodonta F. Muell. and Corymbia latifolia F. Muell.) in a savanna ecosystem in northern Australia. The native eucalypts did not exhibit any signs of drought stress after 3 months of no rainfall and probably had access to deeper soil moisture late into the dry season. Leaf water potential, stomatal conductance, transpiration and photosynthesis all remained high in the dry season but osmotic adjustment was not observed. Overstorey leaf area index (LAI) was 0.6 in the native eucalypt savanna and did not change between wet and dry seasons. In contrast, the K. senegalensis plantation in the wet season was characterized by a high water potential, high stomatal conductance and transpiration and a high LAI of 2.4. In the dry season, K. senegalensis experienced mild drought stress with a predawn water potential -0.6 MPa. Overstorey LAI was halved, and stomatal conductance and transpiration drastically reduced, while minimum leaf water potentials did not change (-2 MPa) and no osmotic adjustment occurred. Khaya senegalensis exhibited an isohydric behaviour and also had a lower hydraulic vulnerability to cavitation in leaves, with a P50 of -2.3 MPa. The native eucalypts had twice the maximum leaf hydraulic conductance but a much higher P50 of -1.5 MPa

  5. Sun-induced Chlorophyll fluorescence and PRI improve remote sensing GPP estimates under varying nutrient availability in a typical Mediterranean savanna ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perez-Priego, O.; Guan, J.; Rossini, M.; Fava, F.; Wutzler, T.; Moreno, G.; Carvalhais, N.; Carrara, A.; Kolle, O.; Julitta, T.; Schrumpf, M.; Reichstein, M.; Migliavacca, M.

    2015-07-01

    This study investigates the performances of different optical indices to estimate gross primary production (GPP) of herbaceous stratum in a Mediterranean savanna with different Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P) availability. Sun-induced chlorophyll Fluorescence yield computed at 760 nm (Fy760), scaled-photochemical reflectance index (sPRI), MERIS terrestrial-chlorophyll index (MTCI) and Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) were computed from near-surface field spectroscopy measurements collected using high spectral resolution spectrometers covering the visible near-infrared regions. GPP was measured using canopy-chambers on the same locations sampled by the spectrometers. We hypothesized that light-use efficiency (LUE) models driven by remote sensing quantities (RSM) can better track changes in GPP caused by nutrient supplies compared to those driven exclusively by meteorological data (MM). Particularly, we compared the performances of different RSM formulations - relying on the use of Fy760 or sPRI as proxy for LUE and NDVI or MTCI as fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fAPAR) - with those of classical MM. Results showed significantly higher GPP in the N fertilized experimental plots during the growing period. These differences in GPP disappeared in the drying period when senescence effects masked out potential differences due to plant N content. Consequently, although MTCI was tightly related to plant N content (r2 = 0.86, p < 0.01), it was poorly related to GPP (r2 = 0.45, p < 0.05). On the contrary sPRI and Fy760 correlated well with GPP during the whole measurement period. Results revealed that the relationship between GPP and Fy760 is not unique across treatments but it is affected by N availability. Results from a cross validation analysis showed that MM (AICcv = 127, MEcv = 0.879) outperformed RSM (AICcv = 140, MEcv = 0.8737) when soil moisture was used to constrain the seasonal dynamic of LUE. However, residual analyses

  6. Sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence and photochemical reflectance index improve remote-sensing gross primary production estimates under varying nutrient availability in a typical Mediterranean savanna ecosystem

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perez-Priego, O.; Guan, J.; Rossini, M.; Fava, F.; Wutzler, T.; Moreno, G.; Carvalhais, N.; Carrara, A.; Kolle, O.; Julitta, T.; Schrumpf, M.; Reichstein, M.; Migliavacca, M.

    2015-11-01

    This study investigates the performances of different optical indices to estimate gross primary production (GPP) of herbaceous stratum in a Mediterranean savanna with different nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) availability. Sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence yield computed at 760 nm (Fy760), scaled photochemical reflectance index (sPRI), MERIS terrestrial-chlorophyll index (MTCI) and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) were computed from near-surface field spectroscopy measurements collected using high spectral resolution spectrometers covering the visible near-infrared regions. GPP was measured using canopy chambers on the same locations sampled by the spectrometers. We tested whether light-use efficiency (LUE) models driven by remote-sensing quantities (RSMs) can better track changes in GPP caused by nutrient supplies compared to those driven exclusively by meteorological data (MM). Particularly, we compared the performances of different RSM formulations - relying on the use of Fy760 or sPRI as a proxy for LUE and NDVI or MTCI as a fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fAPAR) - with those of classical MM. Results showed higher GPP in the N-fertilized experimental plots during the growing period. These differences in GPP disappeared in the drying period when senescence effects masked out potential differences due to plant N content. Consequently, although MTCI was closely related to the mean of plant N content across treatments (r2 = 0.86, p < 0.01), it was poorly related to GPP (r2 = 0.45, p < 0.05). On the contrary sPRI and Fy760 correlated well with GPP during the whole measurement period. Results revealed that the relationship between GPP and Fy760 is not unique across treatments, but it is affected by N availability. Results from a cross-validation analysis showed that MM (AICcv = 127, MEcv = 0.879) outperformed RSM (AICcv =140, MEcv = 0.8737) when soil moisture was used to constrain the seasonal dynamic of LUE. However

  7. Trophy Hunting and Sustainability: Temporal Dynamics in Trophy Quality and Harvesting Patterns of Wild Herbivores in a Tropical Semi-Arid Savanna Ecosystem

    PubMed Central

    Muposhi, Victor K.; Gandiwa, Edson; Bartels, Paul; Makuza, Stanley M.; Madiri, Tinaapi H.

    2016-01-01

    The selective nature of trophy hunting may cause changes in desirable phenotypic traits in harvested species. A decline in trophy size of preferred species may reduce hunting destination competitiveness thus compromising the sustainability of trophy hunting as a conservation tool. We explored the trophy quality and trends in harvesting patterns (i.e., 2004–2015) of Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), African elephant (Loxodonta africana), greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and sable (Hippotragus niger) in Matetsi Safari Area, northwest Zimbabwe. We used long-term data on horn and tusk size, age, quota size allocation and offtake levels of selected species. To analyse the effect of year, area and age on the trophy size, quota size and offtake levels, we used linear mixed models. One sample t-test was used to compare observed trophy size with Safari Club International (SCI) minimum score. Trophy sizes for Cape buffalo and African elephant were below the SCI minimum score. Greater kudu trophy sizes were within the minimum score threshold whereas sable trophy sizes were above the SCI minimum score between 2004 and 2015. Age at harvest for Cape buffalo, kudu and sable increased whilst that of elephant remained constant between 2004 and 2015. Quota size allocated for buffalo and the corresponding offtake levels declined over time. Offtake levels of African elephant and Greater kudu declined whilst the quota size did not change between 2004 and 2015. The quota size for sable increased whilst the offtake levels fluctuated without changing for the period 2004–2015. The trophy size and harvesting patterns in these species pose a conservation and management dilemma on the sustainability of trophy hunting in this area. We recommend: (1) temporal and spatial rotational resting of hunting areas to create refuge to improve trophy quality and maintenance of genetic diversity, and (2) introduction of variable trophy fee pricing system based on trophy size. PMID:27736930

  8. Humans and Great Apes Cohabiting the Forest Ecosystem in Central African Republic Harbour the Same Hookworms

    PubMed Central

    Hasegawa, Hideo; Modrý, David; Kitagawa, Masahiro; Shutt, Kathryn A.; Todd, Angelique; Kalousová, Barbora; Profousová, Ilona; Petrželková, Klára J.

    2014-01-01

    Background Hookworms are important pathogens of humans. To date, Necator americanus is the sole, known species of the genus Necator infecting humans. In contrast, several Necator species have been described in African great apes and other primates. It has not yet been determined whether primate-originating Necator species are also parasitic in humans. Methodology/Principal Findings The infective larvae of Necator spp. were developed using modified Harada-Mori filter-paper cultures from faeces of humans and great apes inhabiting Dzanga-Sangha Protected Areas, Central African Republic. The first and second internal transcribed spacers (ITS-1 and ITS-2) of nuclear ribosomal DNA and partial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) gene of mtDNA obtained from the hookworm larvae were sequenced and compared. Three sequence types (I–III) were recognized in the ITS region, and 34 cox1 haplotypes represented three phylogenetic groups (A–C). The combinations determined were I-A, II-B, II-C, III-B and III-C. Combination I-A, corresponding to N. americanus, was demonstrated in humans and western lowland gorillas; II-B and II-C were observed in humans, western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees; III-B and III-C were found only in humans. Pairwise nucleotide difference in the cox1 haplotypes between the groups was more than 8%, while the difference within each group was less than 2.1%. Conclusions/Significance The distinctness of ITS sequence variants and high number of pairwise nucleotide differences among cox1 variants indicate the possible presence of several species of Necator in both humans and great apes. We conclude that Necator hookworms are shared by humans and great apes co-habiting the same tropical forest ecosystems. PMID:24651493

  9. Understanding Methane Cycling Dynamics across Tropical African Wetland and Upland Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hopple, A.; Bridgham, S. D.; Bohannan, B. J. M.; Meyer, K. M.

    2015-12-01

    The majority of the world's wetlands (~64%) are located in tropical and subtropical humid regions and it is estimated that 47-89% (median 73%) of global wetland methane (CH4) emissions originate in the tropics. While extensive research has been conducted in northern zones to understand biogeochemical controls on wetland CH4 emissions, little research has been conducted across tropical regions. We investigated anaerobic and aerobic CH4 cycling dynamics across a variety of ecosystem types in Gabon, Africa using a combination of in-situ field measurements and controlled laboratory incubations. We found African landscapes to possess highly variable CH4 flux rates both within and across ecosystems, with sources producing up to 155 mmol CH4/m2/day and sinks consuming as much as 53 mmol CH4/m2/day. Gabonese wetlands have CH4 production rates 1-6 orders of magnitude greater than that of higher latitude wetlands and, additionally, a much larger proportion of anaerobic carbon (C) mineralization is converted to CH4 over CO2. Mineral soil wetlands were dominated by acetoclastic methanogenesis (53-87% of total CH4), while the hydrogenotrophic pathway was determined to be the principal pathway in organic soil wetlands (78-96% of total CH4). Finally, we found rates of CH4 oxidation under high CH4 concentrations to be comparatively higher in wetlands, while CH4 oxidation rates under low CH4 concentrations tended to be higher in upland sites. The observed relationships in CH4 production and consumption are not solely explained by temperature or pH, but are likely a result of differences in the dynamics and composition of the microbial communities responsible for the regulation of these processes. In this study, we have provided biogeochemical data that demonstrate the importance of tropical wetlands to the global CH4 cycle and which are vital in paving the way for research investigating the underlying mechanisms responsible for the high CH4 efficiency of this region.

  10. Classification of savanna tree species, in the Greater Kruger National Park region, by integrating hyperspectral and LiDAR data in a Random Forest data mining environment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Naidoo, L.; Cho, M. A.; Mathieu, R.; Asner, G.

    2012-04-01

    The accurate classification and mapping of individual trees at species level in the savanna ecosystem can provide numerous benefits for the managerial authorities. Such benefits include the mapping of economically useful tree species, which are a key source of food production and fuel wood for the local communities, and of problematic alien invasive and bush encroaching species, which can threaten the integrity of the environment and livelihoods of the local communities. Species level mapping is particularly challenging in African savannas which are complex, heterogeneous, and open environments with high intra-species spectral variability due to differences in geology, topography, rainfall, herbivory and human impacts within relatively short distances. Savanna vegetation are also highly irregular in canopy and crown shape, height and other structural dimensions with a combination of open grassland patches and dense woody thicket - a stark contrast to the more homogeneous forest vegetation. This study classified eight common savanna tree species in the Greater Kruger National Park region, South Africa, using a combination of hyperspectral and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)-derived structural parameters, in the form of seven predictor datasets, in an automated Random Forest modelling approach. The most important predictors, which were found to play an important role in the different classification models and contributed to the success of the hybrid dataset model when combined, were species tree height; NDVI; the chlorophyll b wavelength (466 nm) and a selection of raw, continuum removed and Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) bands. It was also concluded that the hybrid predictor dataset Random Forest model yielded the highest classification accuracy and prediction success for the eight savanna tree species with an overall classification accuracy of 87.68% and KHAT value of 0.843.

  11. Eco-hydrology driven fire regime in savanna.

    PubMed

    Ursino, Nadia

    2014-08-21

    Fire is an important evolutionary force and ecosystem consumer that shapes savanna composition. However, ecologists have not comprehensively explained the functioning and maintenance of flammable savannas. A new minimal model accounting for the interdependence between soil saturation, biomass growth, fuel availability and fire has been used to predict the increasing tree density and fire frequency along a Mean Annual Rainfall (MAR) gradient for a typical savanna. Cyclic fire recurrence is reproduced using a predator prey approach in which fire is the "predator" and vegetation is the "prey". For the first time, fire frequency is not defined a priori but rather arises from the composition of vegetation, which determines fuel availability and water limitation. Soil aridity affects fuel production and fuel composition, thus indirectly affecting the ecosystem vulnerability to fire and fire frequency. The model demonstrates that two distinct eco-hydrological states correspond to different fire frequencies: (i) at low MAR, grass is abundant and the impact of fire on the environment is enhanced by the large fuel availability, (ii) at higher MAR, tree density progressively increases and provides less fuel for fire, leading to more frequent and less destructive fires, and (iii) the threshold MAR that determines the transition between the two states and the fire frequency at high MAR are affected by the vulnerability of trees to grass fire. The eco-hydrology-driven predator-prey model originally predicts that the transition between dry and wet savanna is characterized by a shift in wildfire frequency driven by major differences in soil moisture available for plants and savanna structure. The shift and the role of fire in conserving savanna ecosystems could not have been predicted if fire was considered as an external forcing rather than an intrinsic property of the ecosystem. PMID:24727188

  12. Eco-hydrology driven fire regime in savanna.

    PubMed

    Ursino, Nadia

    2014-08-21

    Fire is an important evolutionary force and ecosystem consumer that shapes savanna composition. However, ecologists have not comprehensively explained the functioning and maintenance of flammable savannas. A new minimal model accounting for the interdependence between soil saturation, biomass growth, fuel availability and fire has been used to predict the increasing tree density and fire frequency along a Mean Annual Rainfall (MAR) gradient for a typical savanna. Cyclic fire recurrence is reproduced using a predator prey approach in which fire is the "predator" and vegetation is the "prey". For the first time, fire frequency is not defined a priori but rather arises from the composition of vegetation, which determines fuel availability and water limitation. Soil aridity affects fuel production and fuel composition, thus indirectly affecting the ecosystem vulnerability to fire and fire frequency. The model demonstrates that two distinct eco-hydrological states correspond to different fire frequencies: (i) at low MAR, grass is abundant and the impact of fire on the environment is enhanced by the large fuel availability, (ii) at higher MAR, tree density progressively increases and provides less fuel for fire, leading to more frequent and less destructive fires, and (iii) the threshold MAR that determines the transition between the two states and the fire frequency at high MAR are affected by the vulnerability of trees to grass fire. The eco-hydrology-driven predator-prey model originally predicts that the transition between dry and wet savanna is characterized by a shift in wildfire frequency driven by major differences in soil moisture available for plants and savanna structure. The shift and the role of fire in conserving savanna ecosystems could not have been predicted if fire was considered as an external forcing rather than an intrinsic property of the ecosystem.

  13. Emissions from Miombo Woodland and Dambo Grassland Savanna Fires

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sinha, Parikhit; Hobbs, Peter V.; Yokelson, Robert J.; Blake, Donald R.; Gao, Song; Kirchstetter, Thomas W.

    2004-01-01

    Airborne measurements of trace gases and particles over and downwind of two prescribed savanna fires in Zambia are described. The measurements include profiles through the smoke plumes of condensation nucleus concentrations and normalized excess mixing ratios of particles and gases, emission factors for 42 trace gases and seven particulate species, and vertical profiles of ambient conditions. The fires were ignited in plots of miombo woodland savanna, the most prevalent savanna type in southern Africa, and dambo grassland savanna, an important enclave of miombo woodland ecosystems. Emission factors for the two fires are combined with measurements of fuel loading, combustion factors, and burned area (derived from satellite burn scar retrievals) to estimate the emissions of trace gases and particles from woodland and grassland savanna fires in Zambia and southern Africa during the dry season (May-October) of 2000. It is estimated that the emissions of CO2, CO, total hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides (NOx as NO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), formaldehyde, methyl bromide, total particulate matter, and black carbon from woodland and grassland savanna fires during the dry season of 2000 in southern Africa contributed 12.3%, 12.6%, 5.9%, 10.3%, 7.5%, 24.2%, 2.8%, 17.5%, and 11.1%, respectively, of the average annual emissions from all types of savanna fires worldwide. In 2000 the average annual emissions of methane, ethane, ethene, acetylene, propene, formaldehyde, methanol, and acetic acid from the use of biofuels in Zambia were comparable to or exceeded dry season emissions of these species from woodland and grassland savanna fires in Zambia.

  14. The contribution of trees and grasses to productivity of an Australian tropical savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Moore, Caitlin E.; Beringer, Jason; Evans, Bradley; Hutley, Lindsay B.; McHugh, Ian; Tapper, Nigel J.

    2016-04-01

    Savanna ecosystems cover 20 % of the global land surface and account for 25 % of global terrestrial carbon uptake. They support one fifth of the world's human population and are one of the most important ecosystems on our planet. Savanna productivity is a product of the interplay between trees and grass that co-dominate savanna landscapes and are maintained through interactions with climate and disturbance (fire, land use change, herbivory). In this study, we evaluate the temporally dynamic partitioning of overstory and understory carbon dioxide fluxes in Australian tropical savanna using overstory and understory eddy covariance measurements. Over a 2-year period (September 2012 to October 2014) the overall net ecosystem productivity (NEP) of the savanna was 506.2 (±22 SE) g C m-2 yr-1. The total gross primary productivity (GPP) was 2267.1 (±80 SE) g C m-2 yr-1, of which the understory contributed 32 %. The understory contribution was strongly seasonal, with most GPP occurring in the wet season (40 % of total ecosystem in the wet season and 18 % in the dry). This study is the first to elucidate the temporal dynamics of savanna understory and overstory carbon flux components explicitly using observational information. Understanding grass productivity is crucial for evaluating fuel loads, as is tree productivity for quantifying the tree carbon sink. This information will contribute to a significant refinement of the representation of savannas in models, as well as improved understanding of relative tree-grass productivity and competition for resources.

  15. The contribution of trees and grasses to productivity of an Australian tropical savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Moore, C. E.; Beringer, J.; Evans, B.; Hutley, L. B.; McHugh, I.; Tapper, N. J.

    2015-12-01

    Savanna ecosystems cover 20 % of the global land surface and account for 25 % of global terrestrial carbon uptake. They support one fifth of the world's human population and are one of the most important ecosystems on our planet. Savanna productivity is a product of the interplay between trees and grass that co-dominate savanna landscapes and are maintained through interactions with climate and disturbance (fire, land use change, herbivory). In this study, we evaluate the temporally dynamic partitioning of overstory and understory carbon dioxide fluxes in Australian tropical savanna using overstory and understory eddy covariance measurements. Over a two year period (September 2012 to October 2014) the overall net ecosystem productivity (NEP) of the savanna was 506.2 (±22 SE) g C m-2 yr-1. The total gross primary productivity (GPP) was 2267.1 (±80 SE) g C m-2 yr-1, of which the understory contributed 32 %. The understory contribution was strongly seasonal, with most GPP occurring in the wet season (40 % of total ecosystem in the wet season and 18 % in the dry). This study is the first to elucidate the temporal dynamics of savanna understory and overstory carbon flux components explicitly using observational information. Understanding grass productivity is crucial for evaluating fuel loads, as is tree productivity for quantifying the tree carbon sink. This information will contribute to a significant refinement of the representation of savannas in models, as well as improved understanding of relative tree-grass productivity and competition for resources.

  16. Age-Related Tooth Wear Differs between Forest and Savanna Primates

    PubMed Central

    Galbany, Jordi; Romero, Alejandro; Mayo-Alesón, Mercedes; Itsoma, Fiacre; Gamarra, Beatriz; Pérez-Pérez, Alejandro; Willaume, Eric; Kappeler, Peter M.; Charpentier, Marie J. E.

    2014-01-01

    Tooth wear in primates is caused by aging and ecological factors. However, comparative data that would allow us to delineate the contribution of each of these factors are lacking. Here, we contrast age-dependent molar tooth wear by scoring percent of dentine exposure (PDE) in two wild African primate populations from Gabonese forest and Kenyan savanna habitats. We found that forest-dwelling mandrills exhibited significantly higher PDE with age than savanna yellow baboons. Mandrills mainly feed on large tough food items, such as hard-shell fruits, and inhabit an ecosystem with a high presence of mineral quartz. By contrast, baboons consume large amounts of exogenous grit that adheres to underground storage organs but the proportion of quartz in the soils where baboons live is low. Our results support the hypothesis that not only age but also physical food properties and soil composition, particularly quartz richness, are factors that significantly impact tooth wear. We further propose that the accelerated dental wear in mandrills resulting in flatter molars with old age may represent an adaptation to process hard food items present in their environment. PMID:24732967

  17. Stable isotope-based Plio-Pleistocene ecosystem reconstruction of some of the earliest hominid fossil sites in the East African Rift System (Chiwondo Beds, N Malawi)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lüdecke, Tina; Thiemeyer, Heinrich; Schrenk, Friedemann; Mulch, Andreas

    2014-05-01

    The isotope geochemistry of pedogenic carbonate and fossil herbivore enamel is a powerful tool to reconstruct paleoenvironmental conditions in particular when climate change plays a key role in the evolution of ecosystems. Here, we present the first Plio-Pleistocene long-term carbon (δ13C), oxygen (δ18O) and clumped isotope (Δ47) records from pedogenic carbonate and herbivore teeth in the Malawi Rift. These data represent an important southern hemisphere record in the East African Rift System (EARS), a key region for reconstructing vegetation patterns in today's Zambezian Savanna and correlation with data on the evolution and migration of early hominids across the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. As our study site is situated between the well-known hominid-bearing sites of eastern and southern Africa in the Somali-Masai Endemic Zone and Highveld Grassland it fills an important geographical gap for early hominid research. 5.0 to 0.6 Ma fluviatile and lacustrine deposits of the Chiwondo Beds (NE shore of Lake Malawi) comprise abundant pedogenic carbonate and remains of a diverse fauna dominated by large terrestrial mammals. These sediments are also home to two hominid fossil remains, a mandible of Homo rudolfensis and a maxillary fragment of Paranthropus boisei, both dated around 2.4 Ma. The Chiwondo Beds therefore document early co-existence of these two species. We evaluate δ13C data from fossil enamel of different suid, bovid, and equid species and contrast these with δ13C and δ18O values of pedogenic carbonate. We complement the latter with clumped isotope soil temperature data. Results of almost 800 pedogenic carbonate samples from over 20 sections consistently average δ13C = -8.5 ‰ over the past 5 Ma with no significant short-term δ13C excursions or long-term trends. The data from molar tooth enamel of nine individual suids of the genera Metridiochoerus, Notochoerus and Nyanzachoerus support these findings with average δ13C = -10.0 ‰. The absence

  18. Soil microbial communities following bush removal in a Namibian savanna

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Savanna ecosystems are subject to desertification and bush encroachment, which reduce the grazing value of the land and hence the carrying capacity for wildlife and livestock. In this study we examined the soil microbial communities under bush and grass in Namibia. We analyzed the soil at a chronose...

  19. Linking the Seasonal Variation of Vegetation Indices to Tower Flux Measurements in an Oak-Savanna Ecosystem in California: Comparing the Performance of Ground Based Sensors to Remotely Sensed Products from MODIS, AVIRIS and IKONOS.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Falk, M.; Baldocchi, D. D.; Mercado, I. R.; Ma, S.; Hehn, T.

    2005-12-01

    Across the globe, there are now over 200 FLUXNET sites sampling tower fluxes over many vegetation types. However the spatial resolution of the tower sites is limited and additional information is needed to provide the Global Change Research community with an accurate way to identify and quantify carbon sources and sinks on regional, continental and global scales. Remote sensing is a major tool capable of providing information about the dynamics of the terrestrial biosphere with continuous spatial and temporal coverage on a global scale. For this purpose vegetation indices are chosen specifically to enhance the contribution of vegetation properties to surface reflectances. Remote sensing products generally produce information on GPP (or net primary productivity, NPP), in terms of a light use efficiency (ɛ) and the amount of absorbed visible sunlight (fPAR). Linking remote sensing with FLUXNET sites is crucial in providing reliable estimates of the magnitude and dynamics of the terrestrial carbon budget. An important issue is the spatial mismatch between the NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) and the footprint of tower observations. In this study we have conducted seasonal observations of VI's using three different ground based sensors: a high resolution spectrometer on a weekly basis, and a spectrally-selective light emitting diode spectrometer and a broadband radiometer providing continuous measurements for a highly dynamic oak-savanna ecosystem. We investigate seasonal changes in ɛ, drought induced changes in carbon uptake (NEE) and their link to different VI's like the Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI), Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) and the Photochemical Reaction Index (PRI). Using a combination of spatially coarse MODIS data with high resolution snapshots from IKONOS and AVIRIS platforms together with the ground based spectral observations, we expand the tower site results to regional scale. We find that NDVI is an overall

  20. Nutrient limitation in tropical savannas across multiple scales and mechanisms.

    PubMed

    Pellegrini, Adam F A

    2016-02-01

    Nutrients have been hypothesized to influence the distribution of the savanna biome through two possible mechanisms. Low nutrient availability may restrict growth rates of trees, thereby allowing for intermittent fires to maintain low tree cover; alternatively, nutrient deficiency may even place an absolute constraint on the ability of forests to form, independent of fire. However, we have little understanding of the scales at which nutrient limitation operates, what nutrients are limiting, and the mechanisms that influence how nutrient limitation regulates savanna-forest transitions. Here, I review literature, synthesize existing data, and present a simple calculation of nutrient demand to evaluate how nutrient limitation may regulate the distribution of the savanna biome. The literature primarily supports the hypothesis that nutrients may interact dynamically with fire to restrict the transition of savanna into forest. A compilation of indirect metrics of nutrient limitation suggest that nitrogen and phosphorus are both in short supply and may limit plants. Nutrient demand calculations provided a number of insights. First, trees required high rates of nitrogen and phosphorus supply relative to empirically determined inputs. Second, nutrient demand increased as landscapes approached the transition point between savanna and forest. Third, the potential for fire-driven nutrient losses remained high throughout transitions, which may exaggerate limitation and could be a key feedback stabilizing the savanna biome. Fourth, nutrient limitation varied between functional groups, with fast-growing forest species having substantially greater nutrient demand and a higher susceptibility to fire-driven nutrient losses. Finally, African savanna trees required substantially larger amounts of nutrients supplied at greater rates, although this varied across plant functional groups. In summary, the ability of nutrients to control transitions emerges at individual and landscape

  1. Nutrient limitation in tropical savannas across multiple scales and mechanisms.

    PubMed

    Pellegrini, Adam F A

    2016-02-01

    Nutrients have been hypothesized to influence the distribution of the savanna biome through two possible mechanisms. Low nutrient availability may restrict growth rates of trees, thereby allowing for intermittent fires to maintain low tree cover; alternatively, nutrient deficiency may even place an absolute constraint on the ability of forests to form, independent of fire. However, we have little understanding of the scales at which nutrient limitation operates, what nutrients are limiting, and the mechanisms that influence how nutrient limitation regulates savanna-forest transitions. Here, I review literature, synthesize existing data, and present a simple calculation of nutrient demand to evaluate how nutrient limitation may regulate the distribution of the savanna biome. The literature primarily supports the hypothesis that nutrients may interact dynamically with fire to restrict the transition of savanna into forest. A compilation of indirect metrics of nutrient limitation suggest that nitrogen and phosphorus are both in short supply and may limit plants. Nutrient demand calculations provided a number of insights. First, trees required high rates of nitrogen and phosphorus supply relative to empirically determined inputs. Second, nutrient demand increased as landscapes approached the transition point between savanna and forest. Third, the potential for fire-driven nutrient losses remained high throughout transitions, which may exaggerate limitation and could be a key feedback stabilizing the savanna biome. Fourth, nutrient limitation varied between functional groups, with fast-growing forest species having substantially greater nutrient demand and a higher susceptibility to fire-driven nutrient losses. Finally, African savanna trees required substantially larger amounts of nutrients supplied at greater rates, although this varied across plant functional groups. In summary, the ability of nutrients to control transitions emerges at individual and landscape

  2. Contrasting long-term records of biomass burning in wet and dry savannas of equatorial East Africa.

    PubMed

    Colombaroli, Daniele; Ssemmanda, Immaculate; Gelorini, Vanessa; Verschuren, Dirk

    2014-09-01

    Rainfall controls fire in tropical savanna ecosystems through impacting both the amount and flammability of plant biomass, and consequently, predicted changes in tropical precipitation over the next century are likely to have contrasting effects on the fire regimes of wet and dry savannas. We reconstructed the long-term dynamics of biomass burning in equatorial East Africa, using fossil charcoal particles from two well-dated lake-sediment records in western Uganda and central Kenya. We compared these high-resolution (5 years/sample) time series of biomass burning, spanning the last 3800 and 1200 years, with independent data on past hydroclimatic variability and vegetation dynamics. In western Uganda, a rapid (<100 years) and permanent increase in burning occurred around 2170 years ago, when climatic drying replaced semideciduous forest by wooded grassland. At the century time scale, biomass burning was inversely related to moisture balance for much of the next two millennia until ca. 1750 ad, when burning increased strongly despite regional climate becoming wetter. A sustained decrease in burning since the mid20th century reflects the intensified modern-day landscape conversion into cropland and plantations. In contrast, in semiarid central Kenya, biomass burning peaked at intermediate moisture-balance levels, whereas it was lower both during the wettest and driest multidecadal periods of the last 1200 years. Here, burning steadily increased since the mid20th century, presumably due to more frequent deliberate ignitions for bush clearing and cattle ranching. Both the observed historical trends and regional contrasts in biomass burning are consistent with spatial variability in fire regimes across the African savanna biome today. They demonstrate the strong dependence of East African fire regimes on both climatic moisture balance and vegetation, and the extent to which this dependence is now being overridden by anthropogenic activity. PMID:24677504

  3. Contrasting long-term records of biomass burning in wet and dry savannas of equatorial East Africa.

    PubMed

    Colombaroli, Daniele; Ssemmanda, Immaculate; Gelorini, Vanessa; Verschuren, Dirk

    2014-09-01

    Rainfall controls fire in tropical savanna ecosystems through impacting both the amount and flammability of plant biomass, and consequently, predicted changes in tropical precipitation over the next century are likely to have contrasting effects on the fire regimes of wet and dry savannas. We reconstructed the long-term dynamics of biomass burning in equatorial East Africa, using fossil charcoal particles from two well-dated lake-sediment records in western Uganda and central Kenya. We compared these high-resolution (5 years/sample) time series of biomass burning, spanning the last 3800 and 1200 years, with independent data on past hydroclimatic variability and vegetation dynamics. In western Uganda, a rapid (<100 years) and permanent increase in burning occurred around 2170 years ago, when climatic drying replaced semideciduous forest by wooded grassland. At the century time scale, biomass burning was inversely related to moisture balance for much of the next two millennia until ca. 1750 ad, when burning increased strongly despite regional climate becoming wetter. A sustained decrease in burning since the mid20th century reflects the intensified modern-day landscape conversion into cropland and plantations. In contrast, in semiarid central Kenya, biomass burning peaked at intermediate moisture-balance levels, whereas it was lower both during the wettest and driest multidecadal periods of the last 1200 years. Here, burning steadily increased since the mid20th century, presumably due to more frequent deliberate ignitions for bush clearing and cattle ranching. Both the observed historical trends and regional contrasts in biomass burning are consistent with spatial variability in fire regimes across the African savanna biome today. They demonstrate the strong dependence of East African fire regimes on both climatic moisture balance and vegetation, and the extent to which this dependence is now being overridden by anthropogenic activity.

  4. Experimental climate warming decreases photosynthetic efficiency of lichens in an arid South African ecosystem.

    PubMed

    Maphangwa, Khumbudzo Walter; Musil, Charles F; Raitt, Lincoln; Zedda, Luciana

    2012-05-01

    Elevated temperatures and diminished precipitation amounts accompanying climate warming in arid ecosystems are expected to have adverse effects on the photosynthesis of lichen species sensitive to elevated temperature and/or water limitation. This premise was tested by artificially elevating temperatures (increase 2.1-3.8°C) and reducing the amounts of fog and dew precipitation (decrease 30.1-31.9%), in an approximation of future climate warming scenarios, using transparent hexagonal open-top warming chambers placed around natural populations of four lichen species (Xanthoparmelia austroafricana, X. hyporhytida , Xanthoparmelia. sp., Xanthomaculina hottentotta) at a dry inland site and two lichen species (Teloschistes capensis and Ramalina sp.) at a humid coastal site in the arid South African Succulent Karoo Biome. Effective photosynthetic quantum yields ([Formula: see text]) were measured hourly throughout the day at monthly intervals in pre-hydrated lichens present in the open-top warming chambers and in controls which comprised demarcated plots of equivalent open-top warming chamber dimensions constructed from 5-cm-diameter mesh steel fencing. The cumulative effects of the elevated temperatures and diminished precipitation amounts in the open-top warming chambers resulted in significant decreases in lichen [Formula: see text]. The decreases were more pronounced in lichens from the dry inland site (decline 34.1-46.1%) than in those from the humid coastal site (decline 11.3-13.7%), most frequent and prominent in lichens at both sites during the dry summer season, and generally of greatest magnitude at or after the solar noon in all seasons. Based on these results, we conclude that climate warming interacting with reduced precipitation will negatively affect carbon balances in endemic lichens by increasing desiccation damage and reducing photosynthetic activity time, leading to increased incidences of mortality.

  5. Hydraulic Lift As a Determinant of Tree-Grass Coexistence on Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yu, K.; D'Odorico, P.

    2014-12-01

    The coexistence of woody plants and grasses in savannas is determined by a complex set of interacting factors, including resource availability and disturbance. Existing theories explaining coexistence focus on competitive relations or disturbances preventing the system from attaining a state with complete grass or tree dominance. The effect of hydraulic lift on interactions between woody plants and grasses and the dynamics of savanna ecosystems remains poorly understood. Here, we develop a mechanistic model to investigate the role of hydraulic lift on the stability of savannas. The model accounts both for competition for soil water in the shallow soil layer and fire-induced disturbance. We find that hydraulic lift expands the parameter range in which savannas are stable at the expense of woodlands. Our study shows that hydraulic lift can be an important mechanism responsible for coexistence of woody plants and grasses in savannas.

  6. Understory plant communities and the functional distinction between savanna trees, forest trees, and pines

    SciTech Connect

    Veldman, Joseph W.; Mattingly, W. Brett; Brudvig, Lars A.

    2013-02-01

    Although savanna trees and forest trees are thought to represent distinct functional groups with different effects on ecosystem processes, few empirical studies have examined these effects. In particular, it remains unclear if savanna and forest trees differ in their ability to coexist with understory plants, which comprise the majority of plant diversity in most savannas. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) and data from 157 sites across three locations in the southeastern United States to understand the effects of broadleaf savanna trees, broadleaf forest trees, and pine trees on savanna understory plant communities. After accounting for underlying gradients in fire frequency and soil moisture, abundances (i.e., basal area and stem density) of forest trees and pines, but not savanna trees, were negatively correlated with the cover and density (i.e., local-scale species richness) of C4 graminoid species, a defining savanna understory functional group that is linked to ecosystem flammability. In analyses of the full understory community, abundances of trees from all functional groups were negatively correlated with species density and cover. For both the C4 and full communities, fire frequency promoted understory plants directly, and indirectly by limiting forest tree abundance. There was little indirect influence of fire on the understory mediated through savanna trees and pines, which are more fire tolerant than forest trees. We conclude that tree functional identity is an important factor that influences overstory tree relationships with savanna understory plant communities. In particular, distinct relationships between trees and C4 graminoids have implications for grass-tree coexistence and vegetation-fire feedbacks that maintain savanna environments and their associated understory plant diversity.

  7. Understory plant communities and the functional distinction between savanna trees, forest trees, and pines.

    PubMed

    Veldman, Joseph W; Mattingly, W Brett; Brudvig, Lars A

    2013-02-01

    Although savanna trees and forest trees are thought to represent distinct functional groups with different effects on ecosystem processes, few empirical studies have examined these effects. In particular, it remains unclear if savanna and forest trees differ in their ability to coexist with understory plants, which comprise the majority of plant diversity in most savannas. We used structural equation modeling (SEM) and data from 157 sites across three locations in the southeastern United States to understand the effects of broadleaf savanna trees, broadleaf forest trees, and pine trees on savanna understory plant communities. After accounting for underlying gradients in fire frequency and soil moisture, abundances (i.e., basal area and stem density) of forest trees and pines, but not savanna trees, were negatively correlated with the cover and density (i.e., local-scale species richness) of C4 graminoid species, a defining savanna understory functional group that is linked to ecosystem flammability. In analyses of the full understory community, abundances of trees from all functional groups were negatively correlated with species density and cover. For both the C4 and full communities, fire frequency promoted understory plants directly, and indirectly by limiting forest tree abundance. There was little indirect influence of fire on the understory mediated through savanna trees and pines, which are morefire tolerant than forest trees. We conclude that tree functional identity is an important factor that influences overstory tree relationships with savanna understory plant communities. In particular, distinct relationships between trees and C4 graminoids have implications for grass-tree coexistence and vegetation-fire feedbacks that maintain savanna environments and their associated understory plant diversity.

  8. Climate change and long-term fire management impacts on Australian savannas.

    PubMed

    Scheiter, Simon; Higgins, Steven I; Beringer, Jason; Hutley, Lindsay B

    2015-02-01

    Tropical savannas cover a large proportion of the Earth's land surface and many people are dependent on the ecosystem services that savannas supply. Their sustainable management is crucial. Owing to the complexity of savanna vegetation dynamics, climate change and land use impacts on savannas are highly uncertain. We used a dynamic vegetation model, the adaptive dynamic global vegetation model (aDGVM), to project how climate change and fire management might influence future vegetation in northern Australian savannas. Under future climate conditions, vegetation can store more carbon than under ambient conditions. Changes in rainfall seasonality influence future carbon storage but do not turn vegetation into a carbon source, suggesting that CO₂ fertilization is the main driver of vegetation change. The application of prescribed fires with varying return intervals and burning season influences vegetation and fire impacts. Carbon sequestration is maximized with early dry season fires and long fire return intervals, while grass productivity is maximized with late dry season fires and intermediate fire return intervals. The study has implications for management policy across Australian savannas because it identifies how fire management strategies may influence grazing yield, carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. This knowledge is crucial to maintaining important ecosystem services of Australian savannas.

  9. Vegetation-climate feedbacks in the conversion of tropical savanna to grassland

    SciTech Connect

    Hoffmann, W.A.; Jackson, R.B.

    2000-05-01

    Tropical savannas have been heavily impacted by human activity, with large expanses transformed from a mixture of trees and grasses to open grassland and agriculture. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) CCM3 general circulation model, coupled with the NCAR Land Surface Model, was used to simulate the effects of this conversion on regional climate. Conversion of savanna to grassland reduced precipitation by approximately 10% in four of the five savanna regions under study; only the northern African savannas showed no significant decline. Associated with this decline was an increase in the frequency of dry periods within the wet season, a change that could be particularly damaging to shallow-rooted crops. The overall decline in precipitation is almost equally attributable to changes in albedo and roughness length. Conversion to grassland increased mean surface air temperature of all the regions by 0.5 C, primarily because of reductions in surface roughness length. Rooting depth, which decreases dramatically with the conversion of savanna to grassland, contributed little to the overall effect of savanna conversion, but deeper rooting had a small positive effect on latent heat flux with a corresponding reduction in sensible heat flux. The authors propose that the interdependence of climate and vegetation in these regions is manifested as a positive feedback loop in which anthropogenic impacts on savanna vegetation are exacerbated by declines in precipitation.

  10. H3Africa and the African life sciences ecosystem: building sustainable innovation.

    PubMed

    Dandara, Collet; Huzair, Farah; Borda-Rodriguez, Alexander; Chirikure, Shadreck; Okpechi, Ikechi; Warnich, Louise; Masimirembwa, Collen

    2014-12-01

    Interest in genomics research in African populations is experiencing exponential growth. This enthusiasm stems in part from the recognition that the genomic diversity of African populations is a window of opportunity for innovations in postgenomics medicine, ecology, and evolutionary biology. The recently launched H3Africa initiative, for example, captures the energy and momentum of this interest. This interdisciplinary socio-technical analysis highlights the challenges that have beset previous genomics research activities in Africa, and looking ahead, suggests constructive ways H3Africa and similar large scale science efforts could usefully chart a new era of genomics and life sciences research in Africa that is locally productive and globally competitive. As independent African scholars and social scientists, we propose that any serious global omics science effort, including H3Africa, aiming to build genomics research capacity and capability in Africa, needs to fund the establishment of biobanks and the genomic analyses platforms within Africa. Equally they need to prioritize community engagement and bioinformatics capability and the training of African scientists on these platforms. Historically, the financial, technological, and skills imbalance between Africa and developed countries has created exploitative frameworks of collaboration where African researchers have become merely facilitators of Western funded and conceived research agendas involving offshore expatriation of samples. Not surprisingly, very little funding was allocated to infrastructure and human capital development in the past. Moving forward, capacity building should materialize throughout the entire knowledge co-production trajectory: idea generation (e.g., brainstorming workshops for innovative hypotheses development by African scientists), data generation (e.g., genome sequencing), and high-throughput data analysis and contextualization. Additionally, building skills for political science

  11. H3Africa and the African life sciences ecosystem: building sustainable innovation.

    PubMed

    Dandara, Collet; Huzair, Farah; Borda-Rodriguez, Alexander; Chirikure, Shadreck; Okpechi, Ikechi; Warnich, Louise; Masimirembwa, Collen

    2014-12-01

    Interest in genomics research in African populations is experiencing exponential growth. This enthusiasm stems in part from the recognition that the genomic diversity of African populations is a window of opportunity for innovations in postgenomics medicine, ecology, and evolutionary biology. The recently launched H3Africa initiative, for example, captures the energy and momentum of this interest. This interdisciplinary socio-technical analysis highlights the challenges that have beset previous genomics research activities in Africa, and looking ahead, suggests constructive ways H3Africa and similar large scale science efforts could usefully chart a new era of genomics and life sciences research in Africa that is locally productive and globally competitive. As independent African scholars and social scientists, we propose that any serious global omics science effort, including H3Africa, aiming to build genomics research capacity and capability in Africa, needs to fund the establishment of biobanks and the genomic analyses platforms within Africa. Equally they need to prioritize community engagement and bioinformatics capability and the training of African scientists on these platforms. Historically, the financial, technological, and skills imbalance between Africa and developed countries has created exploitative frameworks of collaboration where African researchers have become merely facilitators of Western funded and conceived research agendas involving offshore expatriation of samples. Not surprisingly, very little funding was allocated to infrastructure and human capital development in the past. Moving forward, capacity building should materialize throughout the entire knowledge co-production trajectory: idea generation (e.g., brainstorming workshops for innovative hypotheses development by African scientists), data generation (e.g., genome sequencing), and high-throughput data analysis and contextualization. Additionally, building skills for political science

  12. H3Africa and the African Life Sciences Ecosystem: Building Sustainable Innovation

    PubMed Central

    Huzair, Farah; Borda-Rodriguez, Alexander; Chirikure, Shadreck; Okpechi, Ikechi; Warnich, Louise; Masimirembwa, Collen

    2014-01-01

    Abstract Interest in genomics research in African populations is experiencing exponential growth. This enthusiasm stems in part from the recognition that the genomic diversity of African populations is a window of opportunity for innovations in postgenomics medicine, ecology, and evolutionary biology. The recently launched H3Africa initiative, for example, captures the energy and momentum of this interest. This interdisciplinary socio-technical analysis highlights the challenges that have beset previous genomics research activities in Africa, and looking ahead, suggests constructive ways H3Africa and similar large scale science efforts could usefully chart a new era of genomics and life sciences research in Africa that is locally productive and globally competitive. As independent African scholars and social scientists, we propose that any serious global omics science effort, including H3Africa, aiming to build genomics research capacity and capability in Africa, needs to fund the establishment of biobanks and the genomic analyses platforms within Africa. Equally they need to prioritize community engagement and bioinformatics capability and the training of African scientists on these platforms. Historically, the financial, technological, and skills imbalance between Africa and developed countries has created exploitative frameworks of collaboration where African researchers have become merely facilitators of Western funded and conceived research agendas involving offshore expatriation of samples. Not surprisingly, very little funding was allocated to infrastructure and human capital development in the past. Moving forward, capacity building should materialize throughout the entire knowledge co-production trajectory: idea generation (e.g., brainstorming workshops for innovative hypotheses development by African scientists), data generation (e.g., genome sequencing), and high-throughput data analysis and contextualization. Additionally, building skills for political

  13. Urban morphological determinants of temperature regulating ecosystem services in African cities: the case of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cavan, Gina; Lindley, Sarah; Kibassa, Deusdedit; Shemdoe, Riziki; Capuano, Paolo; De Paola, Francesco; Renner, Florian; Pauleit, Stephan

    2013-04-01

    Urban green structure provides important regulating ecosystem services, such as temperature and flood regulation, and thus, has the potential to increase the resilience of African cities to climate change. Green structures within urban areas are not only limited to discrete units associated with recreational parks, agricultural areas and open spaces: they also exist within zones which have other primary functions, such as church yards, along transport routes, and within residential areas. Differing characteristics of urban areas can be conceptualised and subsequently mapped through the idea of urban morphology types. Urban morphology types are classifications which combine facets of urban form and function. When mapped, UMT units provide biophysically relevant meso-scale geographical zones which can be used as the basis for understanding climate-related impacts and adaptations. For example, they support the assessment of urban temperature patterns and the temperature regulating services provided by urban green structures. There are some examples of the use of UMTs for assessing regulating ecosystem services in European cities but little similar knowledge is available in an African context. This paper outlines the concept of urban morphology types (UMTs) and how they were applied to African case study cities (Cavan et al., 2012). It then presents the methods used to understand temperature regulating ecosystem services across an example African case study city, including (i) a GIS-based assessment of urban green structures, and (ii) applying an energy balance model to estimate current and future surface temperatures under climate change projections. The assessment is carried out for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Existing evidence suggests increases in both mean and extreme temperatures in the city. Historical analysis of the number of hot days per year suggests a rise from a maximum of 47 days per year in the period 1961-87 to 72 days per year in 2003-2011 (Giugni et al

  14. Future of African terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystems under anthropogenic climate change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Midgley, Guy F.; Bond, William J.

    2015-09-01

    Projections of ecosystem and biodiversity change for Africa under climate change diverge widely. More than other continents, Africa has disturbance-driven ecosystems that diversified under low Neogene CO2 levels, in which flammable fire-dependent C4 grasses suppress trees, and mega-herbivore action alters vegetation significantly. An important consequence is metastability of vegetation state, with rapid vegetation switches occurring, some driven by anthropogenic CO2-stimulated release of trees from disturbance control. These have conflicting implications for biodiversity and carbon sequestration relevant for policymakers and land managers. Biodiversity and ecosystem change projections need to account for both disturbance control and direct climate control of vegetation structure and function.

  15. The soil bacterial communities of South African fynbos riparian ecosystems invaded by Australian Acacia species.

    PubMed

    Slabbert, Etienne; Jacobs, Shayne Martin; Jacobs, Karin

    2014-01-01

    Riparian ecosystem along rivers and streams are characterised by lateral and longitudinal ecological gradients and, as a result, harbour unique biodiversity. Riparian ecosystems in the fynbos of the Western Cape, South Africa, are characterised by seasonal dynamics, with summer droughts followed by high flows during winter. The unique hydrology and geomorphology of riparian ecosystems play an important role in shaping these ecosystems. The riparian vegetation in the Western Cape has, however, largely been degraded due to the invasion of non-indigenous plants, in particular Acacia mearnsii, A. saligna and A. dealbata. This study investigated the effect of hydrology and invasion on the bacterial communities associated with fynbos riparian ecosystems. Bacterial communities were characterised with automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA) and 454 16S rDNA pyrosequencing. Chemical and physical properties of soil within sites were also determined and correlated with community data. Sectioning across the lateral zones revealed significant differences in community composition, and the specific bacterial taxa influenced. Results also showed that the bacterial community structure could be linked to Acacia invasion. The presence of invasive Acacia was correlated with specific bacterial phyla. However, high similarity between cleared and pristine sites suggests that the effect of Acacia on the soil bacterial community structure may not be permanent. This study demonstrates how soil bacterial communities are influenced by hydrological gradients associated with riparian ecosystems and the impact of Acacia invasion on these communities. PMID:24475145

  16. The soil bacterial communities of South African fynbos riparian ecosystems invaded by Australian Acacia species.

    PubMed

    Slabbert, Etienne; Jacobs, Shayne Martin; Jacobs, Karin

    2014-01-01

    Riparian ecosystem along rivers and streams are characterised by lateral and longitudinal ecological gradients and, as a result, harbour unique biodiversity. Riparian ecosystems in the fynbos of the Western Cape, South Africa, are characterised by seasonal dynamics, with summer droughts followed by high flows during winter. The unique hydrology and geomorphology of riparian ecosystems play an important role in shaping these ecosystems. The riparian vegetation in the Western Cape has, however, largely been degraded due to the invasion of non-indigenous plants, in particular Acacia mearnsii, A. saligna and A. dealbata. This study investigated the effect of hydrology and invasion on the bacterial communities associated with fynbos riparian ecosystems. Bacterial communities were characterised with automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA) and 454 16S rDNA pyrosequencing. Chemical and physical properties of soil within sites were also determined and correlated with community data. Sectioning across the lateral zones revealed significant differences in community composition, and the specific bacterial taxa influenced. Results also showed that the bacterial community structure could be linked to Acacia invasion. The presence of invasive Acacia was correlated with specific bacterial phyla. However, high similarity between cleared and pristine sites suggests that the effect of Acacia on the soil bacterial community structure may not be permanent. This study demonstrates how soil bacterial communities are influenced by hydrological gradients associated with riparian ecosystems and the impact of Acacia invasion on these communities.

  17. The Soil Bacterial Communities of South African Fynbos Riparian Ecosystems Invaded by Australian Acacia Species

    PubMed Central

    Slabbert, Etienne; Jacobs, Shayne Martin; Jacobs, Karin

    2014-01-01

    Riparian ecosystem along rivers and streams are characterised by lateral and longitudinal ecological gradients and, as a result, harbour unique biodiversity. Riparian ecosystems in the fynbos of the Western Cape, South Africa, are characterised by seasonal dynamics, with summer droughts followed by high flows during winter. The unique hydrology and geomorphology of riparian ecosystems play an important role in shaping these ecosystems. The riparian vegetation in the Western Cape has, however, largely been degraded due to the invasion of non-indigenous plants, in particular Acacia mearnsii, A. saligna and A. dealbata. This study investigated the effect of hydrology and invasion on the bacterial communities associated with fynbos riparian ecosystems. Bacterial communities were characterised with automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA) and 454 16S rDNA pyrosequencing. Chemical and physical properties of soil within sites were also determined and correlated with community data. Sectioning across the lateral zones revealed significant differences in community composition, and the specific bacterial taxa influenced. Results also showed that the bacterial community structure could be linked to Acacia invasion. The presence of invasive Acacia was correlated with specific bacterial phyla. However, high similarity between cleared and pristine sites suggests that the effect of Acacia on the soil bacterial community structure may not be permanent. This study demonstrates how soil bacterial communities are influenced by hydrological gradients associated with riparian ecosystems and the impact of Acacia invasion on these communities. PMID:24475145

  18. Linking hydrology, ecosystem function, and livelihood sustainability in African papyrus wetlands using a Bayesian Network Model

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    van Dam, A.; Gettel, G. M.; Kipkemboi, J.; Rahman, M. M.

    2011-12-01

    Papyrus wetlands in East Africa provide ecosystem services supporting the livelihoods of millions but are rapidly degrading due to economic development. For ecosystem conservation, an integrated understanding of the natural and social processes driving ecosystem change is needed. This research focuses on integrating the causal relationships between hydrology, ecosystem function, and livelihood sustainability in Nyando wetland, western Kenya. Livelihood sustainability is based on ecosystem services that include plant and animal harvest for building material and food, conversion of wetlands to crop and grazing land, water supply, and water quality regulation. Specific objectives were: to integrate studies of hydrology, ecology, and livelihood activities using a Bayesian Network (BN) model and include stakeholder involvement in model development. The BN model (Netica 4.16) had 35 nodes with seven decision nodes describing demography, economy, papyrus market, and rainfall, and two target nodes describing ecosystem function (defined by groundwater recharge, nutrient and sediment retention, and biodiversity) and livelihood sustainability (drinking water supply, crop production, livestock production, and papyrus yield). The conditional probability tables were populated using results of ecohydrological and socio-economic field work and consultations with stakeholders. The model was evaluated for an average year with decision node probabilities set according to data from research, expert opinion, and stakeholders' views. Then, scenarios for dry and wet seasons and for economic development (low population growth and unemployment) and policy development (more awareness of wetland value) were evaluated. In an average year, the probability for maintaining a "good" level of sediment and nutrient retention functions, groundwater recharge, and biodiversity was about 60%. ("Good" is defined by expert opinion based on ongoing field research.) In the dry season, the probability was

  19. Climate Change and Long-Term Fire Management Impacts on Australian Savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Scheiter, S.; Higgins, S. I.; Beringer, J.; Hutley, L. B.

    2014-12-01

    Tropical savannas cover a large proportion of the Earth's land surface and many people are dependent on the ecosystem services that savannas supply. Their sustainable management is therefore crucial. Due to the complexity of vegetation dynamics, the impacts of climate change and land use on savannas are highly uncertain. Here, we use a dynamic vegetation model, the aDGVM, to project how climate change and fire management influence vegetation in northern Australian savannas in 2100. We show that under future climate conditions, vegetation can store more carbon than under ambient conditions, despite substantial changes in fire regimes. Changes in rainfall seasonality influence future carbon storage but do not turn vegetation into a carbon source, suggesting that CO2 fertilization is the main driver of vegetation change. The application of prescribed fires with varying return intervals and burning season, influences vegetation dynamics and fire induced carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon sequestration is maximized with early dry season fires and long fire return intervals, grass productivity is maximized with late dry season fires at an intermediate fire return intervals. The study has implications for management policy across Australian savannas because it can contribute to identifying fire management strategies that optimize grazing yield, carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions. This knowledge is crucial to maintain important ecosystem services of Australian savannas.

  20. Fatal canine distemper infection in a pack of African wild dogs in the Serengeti ecosystem, Tanzania.

    PubMed

    Goller, Katja V; Fyumagwa, Robert D; Nikolin, Veljko; East, Marion L; Kilewo, Morris; Speck, Stephanie; Müller, Thomas; Matzke, Martina; Wibbelt, Gudrun

    2010-12-15

    In 2007, disease related mortality occurred in one African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) pack close to the north-eastern boundary of the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Histopathological examination of tissues from six animals revealed that the main pathologic changes comprised interstitial pneumonia and suppurative to necrotizing bronchopneumonia. Respiratory epithelial cells contained numerous eosinophilic intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies and multiple syncytial cells were found throughout the parenchymal tissue, both reacting clearly positive with antibodies against canine distemper virus (CDV) antigen. Phylogenetic analysis based on a 388 nucleotide (nt) fragment of the CDV phosphoprotein (P) gene revealed that the pack was infected with a CDV variant most closely related to Tanzanian variants, including those obtained in 1994 during a CDV epidemic in the Serengeti National Park and from captive African wild dogs in the Mkomazi Game Reserve in 2000. Phylogenetic analysis of a 335-nt fragment of the fusion (F) gene confirmed that the pack in 2007 was infected with a variant most closely related to one variant from 1994 during the epidemic in the Serengeti National Park from which a comparable fragment is available. Screening of tissue samples for concurrent infections revealed evidence of canine parvovirus, Streptococcus equi subsp. ruminatorum and Hepatozoon sp. No evidence of infection with Babesia sp. or rabies virus was found. Possible implications of concurrent infections are discussed. This is the first molecular characterisation of CDV in free-ranging African wild dogs and only the third confirmed case of fatal CDV infection in a free-ranging pack.

  1. Mapping Brazilian savanna vegetation gradients with Landsat time series

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schwieder, Marcel; Leitão, Pedro J.; da Cunha Bustamante, Mercedes Maria; Ferreira, Laerte Guimarães; Rabe, Andreas; Hostert, Patrick

    2016-10-01

    Global change has tremendous impacts on savanna systems around the world. Processes related to climate change or agricultural expansion threaten the ecosystem's state, function and the services it provides. A prominent example is the Brazilian Cerrado that has an extent of around 2 million km2 and features high biodiversity with many endemic species. It is characterized by landscape patterns from open grasslands to dense forests, defining a heterogeneous gradient in vegetation structure throughout the biome. While it is undisputed that the Cerrado provides a multitude of valuable ecosystem services, it is exposed to changes, e.g. through large scale land conversions or climatic changes. Monitoring of the Cerrado is thus urgently needed to assess the state of the system as well as to analyze and further understand ecosystem responses and adaptations to ongoing changes. Therefore we explored the potential of dense Landsat time series to derive phenological information for mapping vegetation gradients in the Cerrado. Frequent data gaps, e.g. due to cloud contamination, impose a serious challenge for such time series analyses. We synthetically filled data gaps based on Radial Basis Function convolution filters to derive continuous pixel-wise temporal profiles capable of representing Land Surface Phenology (LSP). Derived phenological parameters revealed differences in the seasonal cycle between the main Cerrado physiognomies and could thus be used to calibrate a Support Vector Classification model to map their spatial distribution. Our results show that it is possible to map the main spatial patterns of the observed physiognomies based on their phenological differences, whereat inaccuracies occurred especially between similar classes and data-scarce areas. The outcome emphasizes the need for remote sensing based time series analyses at fine scales. Mapping heterogeneous ecosystems such as savannas requires spatial detail, as well as the ability to derive important

  2. Are cattle surrogate wildlife? Savanna plant community composition explained by total herbivory, not herbivore identity

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    The replacement of wild ungulate herbivores by domestic livestock in African savannas is composed of two interrelated phenomena: 1) loss or reduction in numbers of individual wildlife species or guilds, and 2) addition of livestock to the system. Yet very few studies have addressed the individual, c...

  3. African dust carries microbes across the ocean: are they affecting human and ecosystem health?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Kellogg, Christina A.; Griffin, Dale W.

    2003-01-01

    Atmospheric transport of dust from northwest Africa to the western Atlantic Ocean region may be responsible for a number of environmental hazards, including the demise of Caribbean corals; red tides; amphibian diseases; increased occurrence of asthma in humans; and oxygen depletion (eutrophication) in estuaries. Studies of satellite images suggest that hundreds of millions of tons of dust are trans-ported annually at relatively low altitudes across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and southeastern United States. The dust emanates from the expanding Sahara/Sahel desert region in Africa and carries a wide variety of bacteria and fungi. The U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with the NASA/Goddard Spaceflight Center, is conducting a study to identify microbes--bacteria, fungi, viruses--transported across the Atlantic in African soil dust. Each year, millions of tons of desert dust blow off the west African coast and ride the trade winds across the ocean, affecting the entire Caribbean basin, as well as the southeastern United States. Of the dust reaching the U.S., Florida receives about 50 percent, while the rest may range as far north as Maine or as far west as Colorado. The dust storms can be tracked by satellite and take about one week to cross the Atlantic.

  4. Phylogenetic Patterns of Extinction Risk in the Eastern Arc Ecosystems, an African Biodiversity Hotspot

    PubMed Central

    Yessoufou, Kowiyou; Daru, Barnabas H.; Davies, T. Jonathan

    2012-01-01

    There is an urgent need to reduce drastically the rate at which biodiversity is declining worldwide. Phylogenetic methods are increasingly being recognised as providing a useful framework for predicting future losses, and guiding efforts for pre-emptive conservation actions. In this study, we used a reconstructed phylogenetic tree of angiosperm species of the Eastern Arc Mountains – an important African biodiversity hotspot – and described the distribution of extinction risk across taxonomic ranks and phylogeny. We provide evidence for both taxonomic and phylogenetic selectivity in extinction risk. However, we found that selectivity varies with IUCN extinction risk category. Vulnerable species are more closely related than expected by chance, whereas endangered and critically endangered species are not significantly clustered on the phylogeny. We suggest that the general observation for taxonomic and phylogenetic selectivity (i.e. phylogenetic signal, the tendency of closely related species to share similar traits) in extinction risks is therefore largely driven by vulnerable species, and not necessarily the most highly threatened. We also used information on altitudinal distribution and climate to generate a predictive model of at-risk species richness, and found that greater threatened species richness is found at higher altitude, allowing for more informed conservation decision making. Our results indicate that evolutionary history can help predict plant susceptibility to extinction threats in the hyper-diverse but woefully-understudied Eastern Arc Mountains, and illustrate the contribution of phylogenetic approaches in conserving African floristic biodiversity where detailed ecological and evolutionary data are often lacking. PMID:23056587

  5. Deciphering the distribution of the savanna biome.

    PubMed

    Lehmann, Caroline E R; Archibald, Sally A; Hoffmann, William A; Bond, William J

    2011-07-01

    • We aimed to identify the limits of savanna across Africa, Australia and South America. We based our investigation on the rich history of hypotheses previously examined: that the limits of savanna are variously determined by rainfall, rainfall seasonality, soil fertility and disturbance. • We categorized vegetation on all continents as 'savanna' (open habitats with a C(4) grass layer) or 'not-savanna' (closed habitats with no C(4) grass layer) and used a combination of statistical approaches to examine how the presence of savanna varied as a function of five environmental correlates. • The presence of savanna is constrained by effective rainfall and rainfall seasonality. Soil fertility is regionally important, although the direction of its effect changes relative to rainfall. We identified three continental divergences in the limits of savanna that could not be explained by environment. • Climate and soils do not have a deterministic effect on the distribution of savanna. Over the range of savanna, some proportion of the land is always 'not-savanna'. We reconciled previous contradictory views of savanna limits by developing a new conceptual framework for understanding these limits by categorizing environmental factors into whether they had a positive or negative effect on woody growth and the frequency of disturbance.

  6. Airborne studies of emissions from savanna fires in southern Africa. 1. Aerosol emissions measured with a laser optical particle counter

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Le Canut, P.; Andreae, M. O.; Harris, G. W.; Wienhold, F. G.; Zenker, T.

    1996-10-01

    During the SAFARI-92 experiment (Southern Africa Fire Atmosphere Research Initiative, September-October 1992), we flew an instrumented DC-3 aircraft through plumes from fires in various southern African savanna ecosystems. Some fires had been managed purposely for scientific study (e.g., those in Kruger National Park, South Africa), while the others were "fires of opportunity" which are abundant during the burning season in southern Africa. We obtained the aerosol (0.1-3.0 μm diameter) number and mass emission ratios relative to carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide from 21 individual fires. The average particle number emission ratio ΔN/ΔCO (Δ: concentrations in plume minus background concentrations) varied between 14 ± 2 cm-3 ppb-1 for grasslands and 23 ± 7 cm-3 ppb-1 for savannas. An exceptionally high value of 43 ± 4 cm-3 ppb-1 was measured for a sugarcane fire. Similarly, the mass emission ratio ΔM/ΔCO varied from 36 ± 6 ng m-3 ppb-1 to 83 ± 45 ng m-3 ppb-1, respectively, with again an exceptionally high value of 124 ± 14 ng m-3 ppb-1 for the sugarcane fire. The number and mass emission ratios relative to CO depended strongly upon the fire intensity. Whereas the emission ratios varied greatly from one fire to the other, the aerosol number and volume distributions as a function of particle size were very consistent. The average background aerosol size distribution was characterized by three mass modes (0.2-0.4 μm, ≈1.0 μm, and ≈2.0 μm diameter). On the other hand, the aerosol size distribution in the smoke plumes showed only two mass modes, one centered in the interval 0.2-0.3 μm and the other above 2 μm diameter. From our mean emission factor (4 ± 1 g kg-1 dm) we estimate that savanna fires release some 11-18 Tg aerosol particles in the size range 0.1-3.0 μm annually, a somewhat lower amount than emitted from tropical forest fires. Worldwide, savanna fires emit some 3-8 × 1027 particles (in the same size range) annually, which is expected

  7. A Disease-Mediated Trophic Cascade in the Serengeti and its Implications for Ecosystem C

    PubMed Central

    Holdo, Ricardo M.; Sinclair, Anthony R. E.; Dobson, Andrew P.; Metzger, Kristine L.; Bolker, Benjamin M.; Ritchie, Mark E.; Holt, Robert D.

    2009-01-01

    Tree cover is a fundamental structural characteristic and driver of ecosystem processes in terrestrial ecosystems, and trees are a major global carbon (C) sink. Fire and herbivores have been hypothesized to play dominant roles in regulating trees in African savannas, but the evidence for this is conflicting. Moving up a trophic scale, the factors that regulate fire occurrence and herbivores, such as disease and predation, are poorly understood for any given ecosystem. We used a Bayesian state-space model to show that the wildebeest population irruption that followed disease (rinderpest) eradication in the Serengeti ecosystem of East Africa led to a widespread reduction in the extent of fire and an ongoing recovery of the tree population. This supports the hypothesis that disease has played a key role in the regulation of this ecosystem. We then link our state-space model with theoretical and empirical results quantifying the effects of grazing and fire on soil carbon to predict that this cascade may have led to important shifts in the size of pools of C stored in soil and biomass. Our results suggest that the dynamics of herbivores and fire are tightly coupled at landscape scales, that fire exerts clear top-down effects on tree density, and that disease outbreaks in dominant herbivores can lead to complex trophic cascades in savanna ecosystems. We propose that the long-term status of the Serengeti and other intensely grazed savannas as sources or sinks for C may be fundamentally linked to the control of disease outbreaks and poaching. PMID:19787022

  8. Ecological thresholds at the savanna-forest boundary: how plant traits, resources and fire govern the distribution of tropical biomes.

    PubMed

    Hoffmann, William A; Geiger, Erika L; Gotsch, Sybil G; Rossatto, Davi R; Silva, Lucas C R; Lau, On Lee; Haridasan, M; Franco, Augusto C

    2012-07-01

    Fire shapes the distribution of savanna and forest through complex interactions involving climate, resources and species traits. Based on data from central Brazil, we propose that these interactions are governed by two critical thresholds. The fire-resistance threshold is reached when individual trees have accumulated sufficient bark to avoid stem death, whereas the fire-suppression threshold is reached when an ecosystem has sufficient canopy cover to suppress fire by excluding grasses. Surpassing either threshold is dependent upon long fire-free intervals, which are rare in mesic savanna. On high-resource sites, the thresholds are reached quickly, increasing the probability that savanna switches to forest, whereas low-resource sites are likely to remain as savanna even if fire is infrequent. Species traits influence both thresholds; saplings of savanna trees accumulate bark thickness more quickly than forest trees, and are more likely to become fire resistant during fire-free intervals. Forest trees accumulate leaf area more rapidly than savanna trees, thereby accelerating the transition to forest. Thus, multiple factors interact with fire to determine the distribution of savanna and forest by influencing the time needed to reach these thresholds. Future work should decipher multiple environmental controls over the rates of tree growth and canopy closure in savanna.

  9. A model inter-comparison study to examine limiting factors in modelling Australian tropical savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Whitley, R.; Beringer, J.; Hutley, L.; Abramowitz, G.; De Kauwe, M. G.; Duursma, R.; Evans, B.; Haverd, V.; Li, L.; Ryu, Y.; Smith, B.; Wang, Y.-P.; Williams, M.; Yu, Q.

    2015-12-01

    Savanna ecosystems are one of the most dominant and complex terrestrial biomes that derives from a distinct vegetative surface comprised of co-dominant tree and grass populations. While these two vegetation types co-exist functionally, demographically they are not static, but are dynamically changing in response to environmental forces such as annual fire events and rainfall variability. Modelling savanna environments with the current generation of terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs) has presented many problems, particularly describing fire frequency and intensity, phenology, leaf biochemistry of C3 and C4 photosynthesis vegetation, and root water uptake. In order to better understand why TBMs perform so poorly in savannas, we conducted a model inter-comparison of 6 TBMs and assessed their performance at simulating latent energy (LE) and gross primary productivity (GPP) for five savanna sites along a rainfall gradient in northern Australia. Performance in predicting LE and GPP was measured using an empirical benchmarking system, which ranks models by their ability to utilise meteorological driving information to predict the fluxes. On average, the TBMs performed as well as a multi-linear regression of the fluxes against solar radiation, temperature and vapour pressure deficit, but were outperformed by a more complicated nonlinear response model that also included the leaf area index (LAI). This identified that the TBMs are not fully utilising their input information effectively in determining savanna LE and GPP, and highlights that savanna dynamics cannot be calibrated into models and that there are problems in underlying model processes. We identified key weaknesses in a model's ability to simulate savanna fluxes and their seasonal variation, related to the representation of vegetation by the models and root water uptake. We underline these weaknesses in terms of three critical areas for development. First, prescribed tree-rooting depths must be deep enough

  10. A model inter-comparison study to examine limiting factors in modelling Australian tropical savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Whitley, Rhys; Beringer, Jason; Hutley, Lindsay B.; Abramowitz, Gab; De Kauwe, Martin G.; Duursma, Remko; Evans, Bradley; Haverd, Vanessa; Li, Longhui; Ryu, Youngryel; Smith, Benjamin; Wang, Ying-Ping; Williams, Mathew; Yu, Qiang

    2016-06-01

    The savanna ecosystem is one of the most dominant and complex terrestrial biomes, deriving from a distinct vegetative surface comprised of co-dominant tree and grass populations. While these two vegetation types co-exist functionally, demographically they are not static but are dynamically changing in response to environmental forces such as annual fire events and rainfall variability. Modelling savanna environments with the current generation of terrestrial biosphere models (TBMs) has presented many problems, particularly describing fire frequency and intensity, phenology, leaf biochemistry of C3 and C4 photosynthesis vegetation, and root-water uptake. In order to better understand why TBMs perform so poorly in savannas, we conducted a model inter-comparison of six TBMs and assessed their performance at simulating latent energy (LE) and gross primary productivity (GPP) for five savanna sites along a rainfall gradient in northern Australia. Performance in predicting LE and GPP was measured using an empirical benchmarking system, which ranks models by their ability to utilise meteorological driving information to predict the fluxes. On average, the TBMs performed as well as a multi-linear regression of the fluxes against solar radiation, temperature and vapour pressure deficit but were outperformed by a more complicated nonlinear response model that also included the leaf area index (LAI). This identified that the TBMs are not fully utilising their input information effectively in determining savanna LE and GPP and highlights that savanna dynamics cannot be calibrated into models and that there are problems in underlying model processes. We identified key weaknesses in a model's ability to simulate savanna fluxes and their seasonal variation, related to the representation of vegetation by the models and root-water uptake. We underline these weaknesses in terms of three critical areas for development. First, prescribed tree-rooting depths must be deep enough

  11. Challenges and difficulties in assessing the environmental status under the requirements of the Ecosystem Approach in North African countries, illustrated by eutrophication assessment.

    PubMed

    Garmendia, Maialen; Borja, Ángel; Breton, Françoise; Butenschön, Momme; Marín, Anna; Miller, Peter I; Morisseau, François; Xu, Weidong

    2015-05-01

    Marine ecosystems provide many ecosystem goods and services. However, these ecosystems and the benefits they create for humans are subject to competing uses and increasing pressures. As a consequence of the increasing threats to the marine environment, several regulations require applying an ecosystem-based approach for managing the marine environment. Within the Mediterranean Sea, in 2008, the Contracting Parties of the Mediterranean Action Plan decided to progressively apply the Ecosystem Approach (EcAp) with the objective of achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) for 2018. To assess the environmental status, the EcAp proposes 11 Ecological Objectives, each of which requires a set of relevant indicators to be integrated. Progress towards the EcAp entails a gradual and important challenge for North African countries, and efforts have to be initiated to propose and discuss methods. Accordingly, to enhance the capacity of North African countries to implement EcAp and particularly to propose and discuss indicators and methods to assess GES, the aim of this manuscript is to identify the practical problems and gaps found at each stage of the environmental status assessment process. For this purpose, a stepwise method has been proposed to assess the environmental status using Ecologic Objective 5-Eutrophication as example.

  12. Lidar remote sensing of savanna biophysical attributes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gwenzi, David

    Although savanna ecosystems cover approximately 20 % of the terrestrial land surface and can have productivity equal to some closed forests, their role in the global carbon cycle is poorly understood. This study explored the applicability of a past spaceborne Lidar mission and the potential of future missions to estimate canopy height and carbon storage in these biomes. The research used data from two Oak savannas in California, USA: the Tejon Ranch Conservancy in Kern County and the Tonzi Ranch in Santa Clara County. In the first paper we used non-parametric regression techniques to estimate canopy height from waveform parameters derived from the Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite's Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (ICESat-GLAS) data. Merely adopting the methods derived for forests did not produce adequate results but the modeling was significantly improved by incorporating canopy cover information and interaction terms to address the high structural heterogeneity inherent to savannas. Paper 2 explored the relationship between canopy height and aboveground biomass. To accomplish this we developed generalized models using the classical least squares regression modeling approach to relate canopy height to above ground woody biomass and then employed Hierarchical Bayesian Analysis (HBA) to explore the implications of using generalized instead of species composition-specific models. Models that incorporated canopy cover proxies performed better than those that did not. Although the model parameters indicated interspecific variability, the distribution of the posterior densities of the differences between composition level and global level parameter values showed a high support for the use of global parameters, suggesting that these canopy height-biomass models are universally (large scale) applicable. As the spatial coverage of spaceborne lidar will remain limited for the immediate future, our objective in paper 3 was to explore the best means of extrapolating

  13. Lidar remote sensing of savanna biophysical attributes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gwenzi, David

    Although savanna ecosystems cover approximately 20 % of the terrestrial land surface and can have productivity equal to some closed forests, their role in the global carbon cycle is poorly understood. This study explored the applicability of a past spaceborne Lidar mission and the potential of future missions to estimate canopy height and carbon storage in these biomes. The research used data from two Oak savannas in California, USA: the Tejon Ranch Conservancy in Kern County and the Tonzi Ranch in Santa Clara County. In the first paper we used non-parametric regression techniques to estimate canopy height from waveform parameters derived from the Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite's Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (ICESat-GLAS) data. Merely adopting the methods derived for forests did not produce adequate results but the modeling was significantly improved by incorporating canopy cover information and interaction terms to address the high structural heterogeneity inherent to savannas. Paper 2 explored the relationship between canopy height and aboveground biomass. To accomplish this we developed generalized models using the classical least squares regression modeling approach to relate canopy height to above ground woody biomass and then employed Hierarchical Bayesian Analysis (HBA) to explore the implications of using generalized instead of species composition-specific models. Models that incorporated canopy cover proxies performed better than those that did not. Although the model parameters indicated interspecific variability, the distribution of the posterior densities of the differences between composition level and global level parameter values showed a high support for the use of global parameters, suggesting that these canopy height-biomass models are universally (large scale) applicable. As the spatial coverage of spaceborne lidar will remain limited for the immediate future, our objective in paper 3 was to explore the best means of extrapolating

  14. Regional insight into savanna hydrogeomorphology from termite mounds.

    PubMed

    Levick, Shaun R; Asner, Gregory P; Chadwick, Oliver A; Khomo, Lesego M; Rogers, Kevin H; Hartshorn, Anthony S; Kennedy-Bowdoin, Ty; Knapp, David E

    2010-01-01

    Global vegetation models predict the spread of woody vegetation in African savannas and grasslands under future climate scenarios, but they operate too broadly to consider hillslope-scale variations in tree-grass distribution. Topographically linked hydrology-soil-vegetation sequences, or catenas, underpin a variety of ecological processes in savannas, including responses to climate change. In this study, we explore the three-dimensional structure of hillslopes and vegetation, using high-resolution airborne LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), to understand the long-term effects of mean annual precipitation (MAP) on catena pattern. Our results reveal that the presence and position of hillslope hydrological boundaries, or seeplines, vary as a function of MAP through its long-term influence on clay redistribution. We suggest that changes in climate will differentially alter the structure of savannas through hydrological changes to the seasonally saturated grasslands downslope of seeplines. The mechanisms underlying future woody encroachment are not simply physiological responses to elevated temperatures and CO(2) levels but also involve hydrogeomorphological processes at the hillslope scale.

  15. Regional insight into savanna hydrogeomorphology from termite mounds.

    PubMed

    Levick, Shaun R; Asner, Gregory P; Chadwick, Oliver A; Khomo, Lesego M; Rogers, Kevin H; Hartshorn, Anthony S; Kennedy-Bowdoin, Ty; Knapp, David E

    2010-01-01

    Global vegetation models predict the spread of woody vegetation in African savannas and grasslands under future climate scenarios, but they operate too broadly to consider hillslope-scale variations in tree-grass distribution. Topographically linked hydrology-soil-vegetation sequences, or catenas, underpin a variety of ecological processes in savannas, including responses to climate change. In this study, we explore the three-dimensional structure of hillslopes and vegetation, using high-resolution airborne LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), to understand the long-term effects of mean annual precipitation (MAP) on catena pattern. Our results reveal that the presence and position of hillslope hydrological boundaries, or seeplines, vary as a function of MAP through its long-term influence on clay redistribution. We suggest that changes in climate will differentially alter the structure of savannas through hydrological changes to the seasonally saturated grasslands downslope of seeplines. The mechanisms underlying future woody encroachment are not simply physiological responses to elevated temperatures and CO(2) levels but also involve hydrogeomorphological processes at the hillslope scale. PMID:20842197

  16. Modelling water provision as an ecosystem service in a large East African river basin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Notter, B.; Hurni, H.; Wiesmann, U.; Abbaspour, K. C.

    2012-01-01

    Reconciling limited water availability with an increasing demand in a sustainable manner requires detailed knowledge on the benefits people obtain from water resources. A frequently advocated approach to deliver such information is the ecosystem services concept. This study quantifies water provision as an ecosystem service for the 43 000 km2 Pangani Basin in Tanzania and Kenya. The starting assumption that an ecosystem service must be valued and accessible by people necessitates the explicit consideration of stakeholders, as well as fine spatial detail in order to determine their access to water. Further requirements include the use of a simulation model to obtain estimates for unmeasured locations and time periods, and uncertainty assessment due to limited data availability and quality. By slightly adapting the hydrological model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), developing and applying tools for input pre-processing, and using Sequential Uncertainty Fitting ver. 2 (SUFI-2) in calibration and uncertainty assessment, a watershed model is set up according to these requirements for the Pangani Basin. Indicators for water provision for different uses are derived from model results by combining them with stakeholder requirements and socio-economic datasets such as census or water rights data. Overall water provision is rather low in the basin, however with large spatial variability. On average, for domestic use, livestock, and industry, 86-105 l per capita and day (95% prediction uncertainty, 95 PPU) are available at a reliability level of 95%. 1.19-1.50 ha (95 PPU) of farmland on which a growing period with sufficient water of 3-6 months is reached at the 75% reliability level - suitable for the production of staple crops - are available per farming household, as well as 0.19-0.51 ha (95 PPU) of farmland with a growing period of ≥6 months, suitable for the cultivation of cash crops. The indicators presented reflect stakeholder information needs and can be

  17. Modelling water provision as an ecosystem service in a large East African river basin

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Notter, B.; Hurni, H.; Wiesmann, U.; Abbaspour, K. C.

    2011-08-01

    Reconciling limited water availability with an increasing demand in a sustainable manner requires detailed knowledge on the benefits people obtain from water resources. A frequently advocated approach to deliver such information is the ecosystem services concept. This study quantifies water provision as an ecosystem service for the 43 000 km2 Pangani Basin in Tanzania and Kenya. The starting assumption that an ecosystem service must be valued and accessible by people necessitates the explicit consideration of stakeholders, as well as fine spatial detail in order to determine their access to water. Further requirements include the use of a simulation model to obtain estimates for unmeasured locations and time periods, and uncertainty assessment due to limited data availability and quality. By slightly adapting the hydrological model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), developing and applying tools for input pre-processing, and using Sequential Uncertainty Fitting ver. 2 (SUFI-2) in calibration and uncertainty assessment, a watershed model is set up according to these requirements for the Pangani Basin. Indicators for water provision for different uses are derived from model results by combining them with stakeholder requirements and socio-economic datasets such as census or water rights data. Overall water provision is rather low in the Basin, however with large spatial variability. On average, for domestic use, livestock, and industry, 86-105 l per capita and day (95 % prediction uncertainty, 95 PPU) are available at a reliability level of 95%. 1.19-1.50 ha (95 PPU) of farmland on which a growing period with sufficient water of 3-6 months is reached at the 75 % reliability level - suitable for the production of staple crops - are available per farming household, as well as 0.19-0.51 ha (95 PPU) of farmland with a growing period of ≥6~months, suitable for the cultivation of cash crops. The indicators presented reflect stakeholder information needs and can be

  18. Emissions of organic trace gases from savanna fires in southern Africa during the 1992 Southern African Fire Atmosphere Research Initiative and their impact on the formation of tropospheric ozone

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Koppmann, R.; Khedim, A.; Rudolph, J.; Poppe, D.; Andreae, M. O.; Helas, G.; Welling, M.; Zenker, T.

    1997-08-01

    CO, CH4, and organic trace gases were measured in air samples collected during several flights with a DC-3 aircraft through the plumes from savanna fires and agricultural fires during the SAFARI 92 campaign in southern Africa in September and October 1992. In all samples a variety of higher molecular weight organic compounds was found, most of which are very reactive. More than 70 of the roughly 140 major components present could be identified. Typically, mixing ratios of several hundred parts per billion carbon of organic compounds were measured inside the plumes, corresponding to an emission ratio of total organic carbon relative to CO2 of up to 1%. About 50% of these emissions were in the form of oxygenated and unsaturated compounds. The contributions of still unknown compounds to the total emission of organic compounds add up to another 20-30%. The observed emission ratios relative to CO2 show a considerable variation depending on the fuel type and the burning stages of the fire. The lowest value of the emission ratio of the sum of all identified organic compounds relative to CO2 was found for a sugar cane fire with (1.7±0.7)×10-3 (ppb C/ppb CO2). For a large savanna fire in Kruger National Park the ratio was (7.4±1.6)×10-3 (ppb C/ppb CO2). The highest value was (13.7±0.9)×10-3 (ppb C/ppb CO2) for an uncontrolled fire of mainly wood and shrub in the Drakensberg region. Results of model calculations show that in biomass-burning plumes, reactive organic compounds contribute significantly to the formation of ozone, especially during the initial phase of photochemical processing.

  19. Genomic DNA sequences from mastodon and woolly mammoth reveal deep speciation of forest and savanna elephants.

    PubMed

    Rohland, Nadin; Reich, David; Mallick, Swapan; Meyer, Matthias; Green, Richard E; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Roca, Alfred L; Hofreiter, Michael

    2010-12-21

    To elucidate the history of living and extinct elephantids, we generated 39,763 bp of aligned nuclear DNA sequence across 375 loci for African savanna elephant, African forest elephant, Asian elephant, the extinct American mastodon, and the woolly mammoth. Our data establish that the Asian elephant is the closest living relative of the extinct mammoth in the nuclear genome, extending previous findings from mitochondrial DNA analyses. We also find that savanna and forest elephants, which some have argued are the same species, are as or more divergent in the nuclear genome as mammoths and Asian elephants, which are considered to be distinct genera, thus resolving a long-standing debate about the appropriate taxonomic classification of the African elephants. Finally, we document a much larger effective population size in forest elephants compared with the other elephantid taxa, likely reflecting species differences in ancient geographic structure and range and differences in life history traits such as variance in male reproductive success.

  20. Genomic DNA sequences from mastodon and woolly mammoth reveal deep speciation of forest and savanna elephants.

    PubMed

    Rohland, Nadin; Reich, David; Mallick, Swapan; Meyer, Matthias; Green, Richard E; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Roca, Alfred L; Hofreiter, Michael

    2010-01-01

    To elucidate the history of living and extinct elephantids, we generated 39,763 bp of aligned nuclear DNA sequence across 375 loci for African savanna elephant, African forest elephant, Asian elephant, the extinct American mastodon, and the woolly mammoth. Our data establish that the Asian elephant is the closest living relative of the extinct mammoth in the nuclear genome, extending previous findings from mitochondrial DNA analyses. We also find that savanna and forest elephants, which some have argued are the same species, are as or more divergent in the nuclear genome as mammoths and Asian elephants, which are considered to be distinct genera, thus resolving a long-standing debate about the appropriate taxonomic classification of the African elephants. Finally, we document a much larger effective population size in forest elephants compared with the other elephantid taxa, likely reflecting species differences in ancient geographic structure and range and differences in life history traits such as variance in male reproductive success. PMID:21203580

  1. Analysis of the pattern of potential woody cover in Texas savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yang, Xuebin; Crews, Kelley A.; Yan, Bowei

    2016-10-01

    While woody plant encroachment has been observed worldwide in savannas and adversely affected the ecosystem structure and function, a thorough understanding of the nature of this phenomenon is urgently required for savanna management and restoration. Among others, potential woody cover (the maximum realizable woody cover that a given site can support), especially its variation over environment has huge implication on the encroachment management in particular, and on tree-grass interactions in general. This project was designed to explore the pattern of potential woody cover in Texas savanna, an ecosystem with a large rainfall gradient in west-east direction. Substantial random pixels were sampled across the study area from MODIS Vegetation Continuous Fields (VCF) tree cover layer (250 m). Since potential woody cover is suggested to be limited by water availability, a nonlinear 99th quantile regression was performed between the observed woody cover and mean annual precipitation (MAP) to model the pattern of potential woody cover. Research result suggests a segmented relationship between potential woody cover and MAP at MODIS scale. Potential biases as well as the practical and theoretical implications were discussed. Through this study, the hypothesis about the primary role of water availability in determining savanna woody cover was further confirmed in a relatively understudied US-located savanna.

  2. Grassland structural heterogeneity in a savanna is driven more by productivity differences than by consumption differences between lawn and bunch grasses.

    PubMed

    Veldhuis, Michiel P; Fakkert, Heleen F; Berg, Matty P; Olff, Han

    2016-11-01

    Savanna grasslands are characterized by high spatial heterogeneity in vegetation structure, aboveground biomass and nutritional quality, with high quality short-grass grazing lawns forming mosaics with patches of tall bunch grasses of lower quality. This heterogeneity can arise because of local differences in consumption, because of differences in productivity, or because both processes enforce each other (more production and consumption). However, the relative importance of both processes in maintaining mosaics of lawn and bunch grassland types has not been measured. Also their interplay been not been assessed across landscape gradients. In a South African savanna, we, therefore, measured the seasonal changes in primary production, nutritional quality and herbivore consumption (amount and percentage) of grazing lawns and adjacent bunch grass patches across a rainfall gradient. We found both higher amounts of primary production and, to a smaller extent, consumption for bunch grass patches. In addition, for bunch grasses primary production increased towards higher rainfall while foliar nitrogen concentrations decreased. Foliar nitrogen concentrations of lawn grasses decreased much less with increasing rainfall. Consequently, large herbivores targeted the biomass produced on grazing lawns with on average 75 % of the produced biomass consumed. We conclude that heterogeneity in vegetation structure in this savanna ecosystem is better explained by small-scale differences in productivity between lawn and bunch grass vegetation types than by local differences in consumption rates. Nevertheless, the high nutritional quality of grazing lawns is highly attractive and, therefore, important for the maintenance of the heterogeneity in species composition (i.e. grazing lawn maintenance). PMID:27522607

  3. High-Resolution Forest Canopy Height Estimation in an African Blue Carbon Ecosystem

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Lagomasino, David; Fatoyinbo, Temilola; Lee, Seung-Kuk; Simard, Marc

    2015-01-01

    Mangrove forests are one of the most productive and carbon dense ecosystems that are only found at tidally inundated coastal areas. Forest canopy height is an important measure for modeling carbon and biomass dynamics, as well as land cover change. By taking advantage of the flat terrain and dense canopy cover, the present study derived digital surface models (DSMs) using stereophotogrammetric techniques on high-resolution spaceborne imagery (HRSI) for southern Mozambique. A mean-weighted ground surface elevation factor was subtracted from the HRSI DSM to accurately estimate the canopy height in mangrove forests in southern Mozambique. The mean and H100 tree height measured in both the field and with the digital canopy model provided the most accurate results with a vertical error of 1.18-1.84 m, respectively. Distinct patterns were identified in the HRSI canopy height map that could not be discerned from coarse shuttle radar topography mission canopy maps even though the mode and distribution of canopy heights were similar over the same area. Through further investigation, HRSI DSMs have the potential of providing a new type of three-dimensional dataset that could serve as calibration/validation data for other DSMs generated from spaceborne datasets with much larger global coverage. HSRI DSMs could be used in lieu of Lidar acquisitions for canopy height and forest biomass estimation, and be combined with passive optical data to improve land cover classifications.

  4. Ecosystem services from southern African woodlands and their future under global change.

    PubMed

    Ryan, Casey M; Pritchard, Rose; McNicol, Iain; Owen, Matthew; Fisher, Janet A; Lehmann, Caroline

    2016-09-19

    Miombo and mopane woodlands are the dominant land cover in southern Africa. Ecosystem services from these woodlands support the livelihoods of 100 M rural people and 50 M urban dwellers, and others beyond the region. Provisioning services contribute $9 ± 2 billion yr(-1) to rural livelihoods; 76% of energy used in the region is derived from woodlands; and traded woodfuels have an annual value of $780 M. Woodlands support much of the region's agriculture through transfers of nutrients to fields and shifting cultivation. Woodlands store 18-24 PgC carbon, and harbour a unique and diverse flora and fauna that provides spiritual succour and attracts tourists. Longstanding processes that will impact service provision are the expansion of croplands (0.1 M km(2); 2000-2014), harvesting of woodfuels (93 M tonnes yr(-1)) and changing access arrangements. Novel, exogenous changes include large-scale land acquisitions (0.07 M km(2); 2000-2015), climate change and rising CO2 The net ecological response to these changes is poorly constrained, as they act in different directions, and differentially on trees and grasses, leading to uncertainty in future service provision. Land-use change and socio-political dynamics are likely to be dominant forces of change in the short term, but important land-use dynamics remain unquantified.This article is part of the themed issue 'Tropical grassy biomes: linking ecology, human use and conservation'.

  5. Ecosystem services from southern African woodlands and their future under global change.

    PubMed

    Ryan, Casey M; Pritchard, Rose; McNicol, Iain; Owen, Matthew; Fisher, Janet A; Lehmann, Caroline

    2016-09-19

    Miombo and mopane woodlands are the dominant land cover in southern Africa. Ecosystem services from these woodlands support the livelihoods of 100 M rural people and 50 M urban dwellers, and others beyond the region. Provisioning services contribute $9 ± 2 billion yr(-1) to rural livelihoods; 76% of energy used in the region is derived from woodlands; and traded woodfuels have an annual value of $780 M. Woodlands support much of the region's agriculture through transfers of nutrients to fields and shifting cultivation. Woodlands store 18-24 PgC carbon, and harbour a unique and diverse flora and fauna that provides spiritual succour and attracts tourists. Longstanding processes that will impact service provision are the expansion of croplands (0.1 M km(2); 2000-2014), harvesting of woodfuels (93 M tonnes yr(-1)) and changing access arrangements. Novel, exogenous changes include large-scale land acquisitions (0.07 M km(2); 2000-2015), climate change and rising CO2 The net ecological response to these changes is poorly constrained, as they act in different directions, and differentially on trees and grasses, leading to uncertainty in future service provision. Land-use change and socio-political dynamics are likely to be dominant forces of change in the short term, but important land-use dynamics remain unquantified.This article is part of the themed issue 'Tropical grassy biomes: linking ecology, human use and conservation'. PMID:27502377

  6. Ecosystem services from southern African woodlands and their future under global change

    PubMed Central

    Pritchard, Rose; McNicol, Iain; Owen, Matthew; Fisher, Janet A.; Lehmann, Caroline

    2016-01-01

    Miombo and mopane woodlands are the dominant land cover in southern Africa. Ecosystem services from these woodlands support the livelihoods of 100 M rural people and 50 M urban dwellers, and others beyond the region. Provisioning services contribute $9 ± 2 billion yr−1 to rural livelihoods; 76% of energy used in the region is derived from woodlands; and traded woodfuels have an annual value of $780 M. Woodlands support much of the region's agriculture through transfers of nutrients to fields and shifting cultivation. Woodlands store 18–24 PgC carbon, and harbour a unique and diverse flora and fauna that provides spiritual succour and attracts tourists. Longstanding processes that will impact service provision are the expansion of croplands (0.1 M km2; 2000–2014), harvesting of woodfuels (93 M tonnes yr−1) and changing access arrangements. Novel, exogenous changes include large-scale land acquisitions (0.07 M km2; 2000–2015), climate change and rising CO2. The net ecological response to these changes is poorly constrained, as they act in different directions, and differentially on trees and grasses, leading to uncertainty in future service provision. Land-use change and socio-political dynamics are likely to be dominant forces of change in the short term, but important land-use dynamics remain unquantified. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Tropical grassy biomes: linking ecology, human use and conservation’. PMID:27502377

  7. Ecology and management of savannas and semi-deserts of central Argentina

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Vegetation of western pampas of central Argentina comprises: caldera, local name of a savanna to woodland ecosystem dominated by Prosopis caldenia; short-grassland and dune-grassland. The area include the central La Pampa and southern San Luis provinces, following a western precipitation gradient fr...

  8. Understanding the ecological complexity of semi-arid savannas using remote sensing

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Huang, Cho-Ying

    Savannas are ecosystems with a background herbaceous layer and intermittently distributed woody plants. A large body of literature has revealed that the ecological processes within savannas are complex and the spatial pattern and abundance of woody and herbaceous plants through time may be influenced by various factors. This dissertation research consists of three studies demonstrating the feasibility of utilizing remote sensing techniques to better understand the ecological complexity of semisavannas in southern Arizona, USA. The first study investigated the impacts of recent fire disturbance on structural changes of woody plants at varying scales. Results indicated that while field canopy cover and remote sensing woody cover fraction were strong predictors of woody biomass at local and landscape scales, respectively, fire history can significantly alter the nature of these relationships. This work suggested that simple predictions of woody biomass from field and remote sensing cover measures without considering disturbance will underestimate biomass in mature undisturbed settings, and overestimate biomass in recently disturbed locations in most cases. The second study investigated the ecological stability by implementing a top-down approach to analyze 21 years (1984--2005) of Landsat satellite data. This work suggested that a stable system needed to receive sufficient precipitation for basic plant growth, to be on coarse-textured and shallow soils that can efficiently store precipitation but inhibit the proliferation of woody plants, and to be on east facing slopes which can support clement microclimate. The perspectives gained from this study will enable us to target fine-scale field studies seeking to address circumstances conferring ecosystem stability; and improve predictions of potential carbon stocks in drylands. The third study derived the unique temporal and spatial signatures of vegetation [the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)] and

  9. Tradeoffs in regulating ecosystem services in East African Papyrus Wetlands: Denitrification as a case study

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gettel, G. M.; Tshering, K.; Nakitende, H.; van Dam, A.

    2012-12-01

    Papyrus wetlands are important to the livelihoods of millions of people in East Africa, partly because they converted to grazing and agricultural lands during during dry seasons. At the same time, papyrus wetlands fringe important water bodies - e.g. Lake Victoria - and may help protect these ecosystems from the impacts of increased nutrient inputs. Denitrification -- the production of gaseous nitrogen (N) from the microbial reduction of nitrate (NO3) in anaerobic environments -- is likely an important mechanism for nitrogen retention in these systems. However, few measurements have been made, and the effect of wetland exploitation on denitrification has not yet been determined. In particular, we were interested in whether the hydrologic status (wet vs dry) is as important as agricultural activities in controlling denitrification potential. Using acetylene block technique to measure potential denitrification (denitrification enzyme assay), we measured potential denitrification rates in natural papyrus vegetation and in grazing, rice, maize, and sugarcane fields in the Nyando and Mara wetlands in Kenya and Tanzania (respectively) in November - December 2010. We also determined whether denitrification was limited by soil organic carbon or by NO3 in different patch types, and further assessed controls using multivariate analysis relating soil characteristics to potential denitrification rates. Potential denitrification in papyrus vegetation was the highest of all measured sites (p<0.05; ranging from 128 to 601 ug N20 g soil dry weight-1 hour-1) and the lowest in grazing sites (0.1 to 0.5 ug N20 g soil dry weight-1 hour-1). Rates were second highest in rice fields (2.3 - 303 ug N20 g soil dry weight-1 hour-1), and intermediate in maize and sugarcane (6.5 - 75 ug N20 g soil dry weight-1 hour-1 and 5 - 30 ug N20 g soil dry weight-1 hour-1 respectively). Controls of denitrification in different land uses were similar in the Nyando and Mara sites, and showed that NO3

  10. Deriving Multiple Benefits from Carbon Market-Based Savanna Fire Management: An Australian Example.

    PubMed

    Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Yates, Cameron P; Edwards, Andrew C; Whitehead, Peter J; Murphy, Brett P; Lawes, Michael J

    2015-01-01

    Carbon markets afford potentially useful opportunities for supporting socially and environmentally sustainable land management programs but, to date, have been little applied in globally significant fire-prone savanna settings. While fire is intrinsic to regulating the composition, structure and dynamics of savanna systems, in north Australian savannas frequent and extensive late dry season wildfires incur significant environmental, production and social impacts. Here we assess the potential of market-based savanna burning greenhouse gas emissions abatement and allied carbon biosequestration projects to deliver compatible environmental and broader socio-economic benefits in a highly biodiverse north Australian setting. Drawing on extensive regional ecological knowledge of fire regime effects on fire-vulnerable taxa and communities, we compare three fire regime metrics (seasonal fire frequency, proportion of long-unburnt vegetation, fire patch-size distribution) over a 15-year period for three national parks with an indigenously (Aboriginal) owned and managed market-based emissions abatement enterprise. Our assessment indicates improved fire management outcomes under the emissions abatement program, and mostly little change or declining outcomes on the parks. We attribute improved outcomes and putative biodiversity benefits under the abatement program to enhanced strategic management made possible by the market-based mitigation arrangement. For these same sites we estimate quanta of carbon credits that could be delivered under realistic enhanced fire management practice, using currently available and developing accredited Australian savanna burning accounting methods. We conclude that, in appropriate situations, market-based savanna burning activities can provide transformative climate change mitigation, ecosystem health, and community benefits in northern Australia, and, despite significant challenges, potentially in other fire-prone savanna settings. PMID:26630453

  11. Deriving Multiple Benefits from Carbon Market-Based Savanna Fire Management: An Australian Example.

    PubMed

    Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Yates, Cameron P; Edwards, Andrew C; Whitehead, Peter J; Murphy, Brett P; Lawes, Michael J

    2015-01-01

    Carbon markets afford potentially useful opportunities for supporting socially and environmentally sustainable land management programs but, to date, have been little applied in globally significant fire-prone savanna settings. While fire is intrinsic to regulating the composition, structure and dynamics of savanna systems, in north Australian savannas frequent and extensive late dry season wildfires incur significant environmental, production and social impacts. Here we assess the potential of market-based savanna burning greenhouse gas emissions abatement and allied carbon biosequestration projects to deliver compatible environmental and broader socio-economic benefits in a highly biodiverse north Australian setting. Drawing on extensive regional ecological knowledge of fire regime effects on fire-vulnerable taxa and communities, we compare three fire regime metrics (seasonal fire frequency, proportion of long-unburnt vegetation, fire patch-size distribution) over a 15-year period for three national parks with an indigenously (Aboriginal) owned and managed market-based emissions abatement enterprise. Our assessment indicates improved fire management outcomes under the emissions abatement program, and mostly little change or declining outcomes on the parks. We attribute improved outcomes and putative biodiversity benefits under the abatement program to enhanced strategic management made possible by the market-based mitigation arrangement. For these same sites we estimate quanta of carbon credits that could be delivered under realistic enhanced fire management practice, using currently available and developing accredited Australian savanna burning accounting methods. We conclude that, in appropriate situations, market-based savanna burning activities can provide transformative climate change mitigation, ecosystem health, and community benefits in northern Australia, and, despite significant challenges, potentially in other fire-prone savanna settings.

  12. Deriving Multiple Benefits from Carbon Market-Based Savanna Fire Management: An Australian Example

    PubMed Central

    Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Yates, Cameron P.; Edwards, Andrew C.; Whitehead, Peter J.; Murphy, Brett P.; Lawes, Michael J.

    2015-01-01

    Carbon markets afford potentially useful opportunities for supporting socially and environmentally sustainable land management programs but, to date, have been little applied in globally significant fire-prone savanna settings. While fire is intrinsic to regulating the composition, structure and dynamics of savanna systems, in north Australian savannas frequent and extensive late dry season wildfires incur significant environmental, production and social impacts. Here we assess the potential of market-based savanna burning greenhouse gas emissions abatement and allied carbon biosequestration projects to deliver compatible environmental and broader socio-economic benefits in a highly biodiverse north Australian setting. Drawing on extensive regional ecological knowledge of fire regime effects on fire-vulnerable taxa and communities, we compare three fire regime metrics (seasonal fire frequency, proportion of long-unburnt vegetation, fire patch-size distribution) over a 15-year period for three national parks with an indigenously (Aboriginal) owned and managed market-based emissions abatement enterprise. Our assessment indicates improved fire management outcomes under the emissions abatement program, and mostly little change or declining outcomes on the parks. We attribute improved outcomes and putative biodiversity benefits under the abatement program to enhanced strategic management made possible by the market-based mitigation arrangement. For these same sites we estimate quanta of carbon credits that could be delivered under realistic enhanced fire management practice, using currently available and developing accredited Australian savanna burning accounting methods. We conclude that, in appropriate situations, market-based savanna burning activities can provide transformative climate change mitigation, ecosystem health, and community benefits in northern Australia, and, despite significant challenges, potentially in other fire-prone savanna settings. PMID:26630453

  13. Tree cover bimodality in savannas and forests emerging from the switching between two fire dynamics.

    PubMed

    De Michele, Carlo; Accatino, Francesco

    2014-01-01

    Moist savannas and tropical forests share the same climatic conditions and occur side by side. Experimental evidences show that the tree cover of these ecosystems exhibits a bimodal frequency distribution. This is considered as a proof of savanna-forest bistability, predicted by dynamic vegetation models based on non-linear differential equations. Here, we propose a change of perspective about the bimodality of tree cover distribution. We show, using a simple matrix model of tree dynamics, how the bimodality of tree cover can emerge from the switching between two linear dynamics of trees, one in presence and one in absence of fire, with a feedback between fire and trees. As consequence, we find that the transitions between moist savannas and tropical forests, if sharp, are not necessarily catastrophic.

  14. Hillslope Chromatography in Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hartshorn, A.; Khomo, L.; Chadwick, O.; Rogers, K.; Kurtz, A.; Heimsath, A.

    2005-12-01

    In semiarid ecosystems, vegetation patterns are controlled in part by soil water availability. Along hillslopes in Kruger National Park, South Africa, water availability is strongly dependent on soil texture and textural differences with depth, which are a function of landscape position (convergent or divergent crests, midslopes, and footslopes) and parent material. We are studying weathering and landscape development on the western side of the park, which is underlain by granitic gneisses. Hillslopes in the park are often described as catenas, where rainfall catalyzes chemical weathering and drives the downslope transport of clays and weathering products, forming a predictable sequence of soil types. Sandy crest soils grade to midslope soils where sandy surface horizons overlie clayey subsurface horizons; footslopes generally have higher volumetric clay contents. The boundary between the sandy and clayey soils is of ecological significance because this is the location where run-on from upslope landscape positions is diverted to the surface, initiating overland flow and reducing infiltration. In a geochemical sense these hillslopes can be thought of as chromatographic columns that accentuate differential solute mobility along the long (~1-2 km) potential flowpaths. We use the compound topographic index (a terrain attribute that indexes soil wetness by dividing the upslope contributing area by the slope) to predict the redistribution of clays across these semiarid hillslopes and hope to demonstrate that landscape positions occupying comparable plan and profile curvatures contain clay and organic carbon in proportion to contributing area. Thus far, we have derived contributing area values for 40 soil pits using LiDAR-based digital elevation models and then tested how well contributing area and other terrain attributes predicted clay and carbon content for 218 horizons at these 40 locations. Depth-weighted soil clay ranged from 3 to 25% and total soil carbon ranged

  15. Mobility-based management of livestock to improve biodiversity conservation in African savannahs: A conceptual basis for wildlife-livestock co-existence

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    African savannas are complex socio-ecological systems with diverse wild and domestic herbivore assemblages, which utilize functional heterogeneity of habitats to adapt to intra- and inter-annual variation in forage quantity and quality, predation and disease risks. As African savannas become increas...

  16. Ecological Thresholds in the Savanna Landscape: Developing a Protocol for Monitoring the Change in Composition and Utilisation of Large Trees

    PubMed Central

    Druce, Dave J.; Shannon, Graeme; Page, Bruce R.; Grant, Rina; Slotow, Rob

    2008-01-01

    Background Acquiring greater understanding of the factors causing changes in vegetation structure - particularly with the potential to cause regime shifts - is important in adaptively managed conservation areas. Large trees (≥5 m in height) play an important ecosystem function, and are associated with a stable ecological state in the African savanna. There is concern that large tree densities are declining in a number of protected areas, including the Kruger National Park, South Africa. In this paper the results of a field study designed to monitor change in a savanna system are presented and discussed. Methodology/Principal Findings Developing the first phase of a monitoring protocol to measure the change in tree species composition, density and size distribution, whilst also identifying factors driving change. A central issue is the discrete spatial distribution of large trees in the landscape, making point sampling approaches relatively ineffective. Accordingly, fourteen 10 m wide transects were aligned perpendicular to large rivers (3.0–6.6 km in length) and eight transects were located at fixed-point photographic locations (1.0–1.6 km in length). Using accumulation curves, we established that the majority of tree species were sampled within 3 km. Furthermore, the key ecological drivers (e.g. fire, herbivory, drought and disease) which influence large tree use and impact were also recorded within 3 km. Conclusions/Significance The technique presented provides an effective method for monitoring changes in large tree abundance, size distribution and use by the main ecological drivers across the savanna landscape. However, the monitoring of rare tree species would require individual marking approaches due to their low densities and specific habitat requirements. Repeat sampling intervals would vary depending on the factor of concern and proposed management mitigation. Once a monitoring protocol has been identified and evaluated, the next stage is to

  17. The independent and interactive effects of tree-tree establishment competition and fire on savanna structure and dynamics.

    PubMed

    Calabrese, Justin M; Vazquez, Federico; López, Cristóbal; San Miguel, Maxi; Grimm, Volker

    2010-03-01

    Savanna ecosystems are widespread and economically important and harbor considerable biodiversity. Despite extensive study, the mechanisms regulating savanna tree populations are not well understood. Recent empirical work suggests that both tree-tree competition and fire are key factors in semiarid to mesic savannas, but the potential for competition to structure savannas, particularly in interaction with fire, has received little theoretical attention. We develop a minimalistic and analytically tractable stochastic cellular automaton to study the individual and combined effects of these two factors on savannas. We find that while competition often substantially depresses tree density, fire generally has little effect but can drive tree extinction in extreme scenarios. When combined, competition and fire interact nonlinearly with strong negative consequences for tree density. This novel result may help explain observed variability among apparently similar savannas in their response to fire. Paradoxically, this interaction could also render the presence of competition more difficult to detect in empirical studies because fire can override the characteristic regular spacing driven by competition and lead instead to clustering.

  18. Fires in the Cenozoic: a late flowering of flammable ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Bond, William J

    2014-01-01

    Modern flammable ecosystems include tropical and subtropical savannas, steppe grasslands, boreal forests, and temperate sclerophyll shrublands. Despite the apparent fiery nature of much contemporary vegetation, terrestrial fossil evidence would suggest we live in a time of low fire activity relative to the deep past. The inertinite content of coal, fossil charcoal, is strikingly low from the Eocene to the Pleistocene and no charcoalified mesofossils have been reported for the Cenozoic. Marine cores have been analyzed for charcoal in the North Pacific, the north and south Atlantic off Africa, and the south China sea. These tell a different story with the oldest records indicating low levels of fire activity from the Eocene but a surge of fire from the late Miocene (~7 Ma). Phylogenetic studies of woody plants adapted to frequent savanna fires show them beginning to appear from the Late Miocene with peak origins in the late Pliocene in both South American and African lineages. Phylogenetic studies indicate ancient origins (60 Ma+) for clades characteristic of flammable sclerophyll vegetation from Australia and the Cape region of South Africa. However, as for savannas, there was a surge of speciation from the Late Miocene associated with the retreat of closed fire-intolerant forests. The wide geographic spread of increased fire activity in the last few million years suggests a global cause. However, none of the potential global factors (oxygen, rainfall seasonality, CO2, novel flammable growth forms) provides an adequate explanation as yet. The global patterns and processes of fire and flammable vegetation in the Cenozoic, especially since the Late Miocene, deserve much more attention to better understand fire in the earth system. PMID:25601873

  19. Fires in the Cenozoic: a late flowering of flammable ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Bond, William J

    2014-01-01

    Modern flammable ecosystems include tropical and subtropical savannas, steppe grasslands, boreal forests, and temperate sclerophyll shrublands. Despite the apparent fiery nature of much contemporary vegetation, terrestrial fossil evidence would suggest we live in a time of low fire activity relative to the deep past. The inertinite content of coal, fossil charcoal, is strikingly low from the Eocene to the Pleistocene and no charcoalified mesofossils have been reported for the Cenozoic. Marine cores have been analyzed for charcoal in the North Pacific, the north and south Atlantic off Africa, and the south China sea. These tell a different story with the oldest records indicating low levels of fire activity from the Eocene but a surge of fire from the late Miocene (~7 Ma). Phylogenetic studies of woody plants adapted to frequent savanna fires show them beginning to appear from the Late Miocene with peak origins in the late Pliocene in both South American and African lineages. Phylogenetic studies indicate ancient origins (60 Ma+) for clades characteristic of flammable sclerophyll vegetation from Australia and the Cape region of South Africa. However, as for savannas, there was a surge of speciation from the Late Miocene associated with the retreat of closed fire-intolerant forests. The wide geographic spread of increased fire activity in the last few million years suggests a global cause. However, none of the potential global factors (oxygen, rainfall seasonality, CO2, novel flammable growth forms) provides an adequate explanation as yet. The global patterns and processes of fire and flammable vegetation in the Cenozoic, especially since the Late Miocene, deserve much more attention to better understand fire in the earth system.

  20. Fires in the Cenozoic: a late flowering of flammable ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Bond, William J.

    2015-01-01

    Modern flammable ecosystems include tropical and subtropical savannas, steppe grasslands, boreal forests, and temperate sclerophyll shrublands. Despite the apparent fiery nature of much contemporary vegetation, terrestrial fossil evidence would suggest we live in a time of low fire activity relative to the deep past. The inertinite content of coal, fossil charcoal, is strikingly low from the Eocene to the Pleistocene and no charcoalified mesofossils have been reported for the Cenozoic. Marine cores have been analyzed for charcoal in the North Pacific, the north and south Atlantic off Africa, and the south China sea. These tell a different story with the oldest records indicating low levels of fire activity from the Eocene but a surge of fire from the late Miocene (~7 Ma). Phylogenetic studies of woody plants adapted to frequent savanna fires show them beginning to appear from the Late Miocene with peak origins in the late Pliocene in both South American and African lineages. Phylogenetic studies indicate ancient origins (60 Ma+) for clades characteristic of flammable sclerophyll vegetation from Australia and the Cape region of South Africa. However, as for savannas, there was a surge of speciation from the Late Miocene associated with the retreat of closed fire-intolerant forests. The wide geographic spread of increased fire activity in the last few million years suggests a global cause. However, none of the potential global factors (oxygen, rainfall seasonality, CO2, novel flammable growth forms) provides an adequate explanation as yet. The global patterns and processes of fire and flammable vegetation in the Cenozoic, especially since the Late Miocene, deserve much more attention to better understand fire in the earth system. PMID:25601873

  1. Tropical Forests, Savannas and Grasslands: Bridging the Knowledge Gap Between Ecology and Dynamic Global Vegetation Models

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Baudena, M.; Dekker, S. C.; van Bodegom, P. M.; Cuesta, B.; Higgins, S. I.; Lehsten, V.; Reick, C. H.; Rietkerk, M.; Scheiter, S.; Yin, Z.; Zavala, M. A.; Brovkin, V.

    2014-12-01

    Due to global climate change, tropical forest, savanna, and grassland biomes, and the transitions between them, are expected to undergo major changes in the future. Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs) are largely used to understand vegetation dynamics under present climate, and to predict its changes under future conditions. However, several DGVMs display high uncertainty in predicting vegetation in tropical areas. Here we present the results of a comparative analysis of three different DGVMs (JSBACH, LPJ-GUESS-SPITFIRE and aDGVM) with regard to their different representations of the ecological mechanisms and feedbacks that determine the forest, savanna and grassland biomes, in an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap between ecology and global modelling. We compared model outcomes to observed tree cover along a mean annual precipitation gradient in Africa. Through these comparisons, and by drawing on the large number of recent studies that have delivered new insights into the ecology of tropical ecosystems in general, and of savannas in particular, we identify two main mechanisms that need an improved representation in the DGVMs. The first mechanism encompasses water limitation to tree growth, and tree-grass competition for water, which are key factors in determining savanna occurrence in arid and semi-arid areas. The second is a grass-fire feedback, which maintains both forest and savannas in mesic areas. Grasses constitute the majority of the fuel load, and at the same time benefit from the openness of the landscape after fires, since they recover faster than trees. Additionally, these two mechanisms are better represented when the models also include tree life stages (adults and seedlings), and distinguish between fire-prone and shade-tolerant savanna trees, and fire-resistant and shade-intolerant forest trees. Including these basic elements could improve the predictive ability of the DGVMs, not only under current climate conditions but also and especially

  2. Forests, savannas, and grasslands: bridging the knowledge gap between ecology and Dynamic Global Vegetation Models

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Baudena, M.; Dekker, S. C.; van Bodegom, P. M.; Cuesta, B.; Higgins, S. I.; Lehsten, V.; Reick, C. H.; Rietkerk, M.; Scheiter, S.; Yin, Z.; Zavala, M. A.; Brovkin, V.

    2015-03-01

    The forest, savanna, and grassland biomes, and the transitions between them, are expected to undergo major changes in the future due to global climate change. Dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) are very useful for understanding vegetation dynamics under the present climate, and for predicting its changes under future conditions. However, several DGVMs display high uncertainty in predicting vegetation in tropical areas. Here we perform a comparative analysis of three different DGVMs (JSBACH, LPJ-GUESS-SPITFIRE and aDGVM) with regard to their representation of the ecological mechanisms and feedbacks that determine the forest, savanna, and grassland biomes, in an attempt to bridge the knowledge gap between ecology and global modeling. The outcomes of the models, which include different mechanisms, are compared to observed tree cover along a mean annual precipitation gradient in Africa. By drawing on the large number of recent studies that have delivered new insights into the ecology of tropical ecosystems in general, and of savannas in particular, we identify two main mechanisms that need improved representation in the examined DGVMs. The first mechanism includes water limitation to tree growth, and tree-grass competition for water, which are key factors in determining savanna presence in arid and semi-arid areas. The second is a grass-fire feedback, which maintains both forest and savanna presence in mesic areas. Grasses constitute the majority of the fuel load, and at the same time benefit from the openness of the landscape after fires, since they recover faster than trees. Additionally, these two mechanisms are better represented when the models also include tree life stages (adults and seedlings), and distinguish between fire-prone and shade-tolerant forest trees, and fire-resistant and shade-intolerant savanna trees. Including these basic elements could improve the predictive ability of the DGVMs, not only under current climate conditions but also and

  3. Origin and dynamics of the northern South American coastal savanna belt during the Holocene - the role of climate, sea-level, fire and humans

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alizadeh, Kamaleddin; Cohen, Marcelo; Behling, Hermann

    2015-08-01

    Presence of a coastal savanna belt expanding from British Guiana to northeastern Brazil cannot be explained by present-day climate. Using pollen and charcoal analyses on an 11.6 k old sediment core from a coastal depression in the savanna belt near the mouth of the Amazon River we investigated the paleoenvironmental history to shed light on this question. Results indicate that small areas of savanna accompanied by a forest type composed primarily by the genus Micropholis (Sapotaceae) that has no modern analog existed at the beginning of the Holocene. After 11,200 cal yr BP, savanna accompanied by few trees replaced the forest. In depressions swamp forest developed and by ca 10,000 cal yr BP replaced by Mauritia swamps. Between 8500 and 5600 cal yr BP gallery forest (composed mainly of Euphorbiaceae) and swamp forest succeeded the treeless savanna. The modern vegetation with alternating gallery forest and savanna developed after 5600 cal yr BP. We suggest that the early Holocene no-analog forest is a relict of previously more extensive forest under cooler and moister Lateglacial conditions. The early Holocene savanna expansion indicates a drier phase probably related to the shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) towards its northernmost position. The mid-Holocene forest expansion is probably a result of the combined influence of equatorwards shift of ITCZ joining the South Atlantic Convergence Zone (SACZ). The ecosystem variability during the last 5600 cal yr BP, formed perhaps under influence of intensified ENSO condition. High charcoal concentrations, especially during the early Holocene, indicate that natural and/or anthropogenic fires may have maintained the savanna. However, our results propose that climate change is the main driving factor for the formation of the coastal savanna in this region. Our results also show that the early Holocene sea level rise established mangroves near the study site until 7500 cal yr BP and promoted swamp formation in

  4. Direct measurements of the seasonality of emission factors from savanna fires in northern Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Meyer, C. P.; Cook, G. D.; Reisen, F.; Smith, T. E. L.; Tattaris, M.; Russell-Smith, J.; Maier, S. W.; Yates, C. P.; Wooster, M. J.

    2012-10-01

    Current good practice guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories requires that seasonal variation in emission factors from savanna fires be considered when compiling national accounts. African studies concluded that the emission factor for methane decreases during the dry season principally due to curing of the fuels. However, available data from Australian tropical savannas shows no effect of seasonality on emission factors, consistent with observations that the fine fuels appear to cure fully soon after the start of the fire season. To test whether the seasonality in greenhouse gas emission factors reported for Africa also occurs in Australia, methane and nitrous oxide emission factors were measured in early and in late dry season fires in Western Arnhem Land, a region typical of much of the northern Australia savanna zone. We found no significant seasonality in methane emission factors, but there was substantial variation in emission factors associated with inter-fire differences in vegetation and fuel. This variation could be explained almost completely by combustion efficiency. Nitrous oxide emission factors were not related to combustion efficiency but showed some variation across vegetation and fuel size class. Both methane and nitrous oxide emission factors were consistent with previous work in northern Australia and with some published values from Africa. The absence of a significant seasonal trend in emission factors indicates that savanna fire emissions in northern Australia can be managed by strategic prescribed burning.

  5. Large carnivores make savanna tree communities less thorny.

    PubMed

    Ford, Adam T; Goheen, Jacob R; Otieno, Tobias O; Bidner, Laura; Isbell, Lynne A; Palmer, Todd M; Ward, David; Woodroffe, Rosie; Pringle, Robert M

    2014-10-17

    Understanding how predation risk and plant defenses interactively shape plant distributions is a core challenge in ecology. By combining global positioning system telemetry of an abundant antelope (impala) and its main predators (leopards and wild dogs) with a series of manipulative field experiments, we showed that herbivores' risk-avoidance behavior and plants' antiherbivore defenses interact to determine tree distributions in an African savanna. Well-defended thorny Acacia trees (A. etbaica) were abundant in low-risk areas where impala aggregated but rare in high-risk areas that impala avoided. In contrast, poorly defended trees (A. brevispica) were more abundant in high- than in low-risk areas. Our results suggest that plants can persist in landscapes characterized by intense herbivory, either by defending themselves or by thriving in risky areas where carnivores hunt. PMID:25324387

  6. Using remote sensing and biogeographic modeling to understand the oak savannas of the Sheyenne National Grassland, North Dakota, USA

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    SigdelPhuyal, Mandira

    Oak savannas are valuable and complex ecosystems that provide multiple ecosystem goods and services, including grazing for livestock, watershed regulation, and recreation. These ecosystems of the woodland-prairie ecoregion of the Midwestern United States are, however, in danger of disappearing. The Sheyenne National Grassland, North Dakota, a protected Prairie grassland-savanna, is a representative of such rare habitats, where oak savanna is found at the landscape scale. In this research, I map the distribution patterns of oak savanna in the Sheyenne using a combination of remote sensing and geospatial datasets, including landscape topography, soils, and fire disturbance. Further, I interpret the performance of a suite of advanced Species Distribution Modeling approaches including Maximum Entropy, Random Forest, Generalized Boosted Model, and Classification Tree to analyze the primary environmental and management factors influencing oak distributions at landscape scales. Woody canopy cover was estimated with high classification accuracy (80-95%) for two study areas of the Sheyenne National Grassland. Among the four species distribution modeling approaches tested, the Random Forest (RF) approach provided the best predictive model. RF model parameters indicate that oak trees favor gently sloping locations, on well-drained upland and sandy soils, with north-facing aspect. While no direct data on water relationships were possible in this research, the importance of the topographic and soil variables in the SDM presumably reflect oak preference for locations and soils that are not prone to water saturation, with milder summer temperatures (i.e. northern aspects), providing conditions suitable for seedling establishment and growth. This research increases our understanding of the biogeography of Midwestern tall-grass oak savannas and provides a decision-support tool for oak savanna management.

  7. Measuring and Modelling the Carbon Balance of Pinus palustris Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wright, J. K.; Williams, M. D.; Mitchell, R. J.; Starr, G.; McGee, J.; Whelan, A.

    2011-12-01

    Longleaf pine savannas currently occupy 1.4 million hectares in the South Eastern USA - only 2.6% of their original range. These fire-dependent ecosystems are highly biodiverse and of economic and ecological importance to the region. This region of the United States, however, is increasingly prone to severe drought, including a classified "exceptional" drought in 2011. Drought occurrence and severity are likely to increase in future climate scenarios. Moreover, increasing drought and accompanying wildfire will influence the carbon balance of the South East, a region identified as having the highest carbon sequestration potential in the USA. Thus, understanding the effects of drought on the native longleaf pine savanna land cover, therefore, is of both scientific and economic interest. Longleaf pine exists over a wide soil moisture gradient, driven by the texture and drainage capacity of the soils. These ecosystems therefore provide a natural laboratory for exploring the interaction between productivity, fire and water use. Here we present results of a 3 year study comparing the ecophysiology and carbon balance of two adjacent (5 mile separation) longleaf pine savanna flux sites, one xeric, one mesic. A process-based model (Soil-Plant-Atmosphere - SPA) and leaf-level measurements of photosynthesis and water use in drought and non-drought periods have enabled the authors to partition the carbon fluxes observed at each site into three functional groups (C4 understorey, C3 canopy and mid-storey). Results of this study show that the comparative overall productivity of wet and dry longleaf pine savannas varies through the year, with both wet and dry sites achieving similar productivity in the summer months but with the wet site exceeding the dry site during winter. We hypothesise that this difference is due to the activity of the seasonal C4 understorey. Results from SPA, flux data and field measurements suggest the understorey, dominated by the C4 grass Aristida stricta

  8. New evidence for hybrid zones of forest and savanna elephants in Central and West Africa.

    PubMed

    Mondol, Samrat; Moltke, Ida; Hart, John; Keigwin, Michael; Brown, Lisa; Stephens, Matthew; Wasser, Samuel K

    2015-12-01

    The African elephant consists of forest and savanna subspecies. Both subspecies are highly endangered due to severe poaching and habitat loss, and knowledge of their population structure is vital to their conservation. Previous studies have demonstrated marked genetic and morphological differences between forest and savanna elephants, and despite extensive sampling, genetic evidence of hybridization between them has been restricted largely to a few hybrids in the Garamba region of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here, we present new genetic data on hybridization from previously unsampled areas of Africa. Novel statistical methods applied to these data identify 46 hybrid samples--many more than have been previously identified--only two of which are from the Garamba region. The remaining 44 are from three other geographically distinct locations: a major hybrid zone along the border of the DRC and Uganda, a second potential hybrid zone in Central African Republic and a smaller fraction of hybrids in the Pendjari-Arli complex of West Africa. Most of the hybrids show evidence of interbreeding over more than one generation, demonstrating that hybrids are fertile. Mitochondrial and Y chromosome data demonstrate that the hybridization is bidirectional, involving males and females from both subspecies. We hypothesize that the hybrid zones may have been facilitated by poaching and habitat modification. The localized geography and rarity of hybrid zones, their possible facilitation from human pressures, and the high divergence and genetic distinctness of forest and savanna elephants throughout their ranges, are consistent with calls for separate species classification.

  9. New evidence for hybrid zones of forest and savanna elephants in Central and West Africa.

    PubMed

    Mondol, Samrat; Moltke, Ida; Hart, John; Keigwin, Michael; Brown, Lisa; Stephens, Matthew; Wasser, Samuel K

    2015-12-01

    The African elephant consists of forest and savanna subspecies. Both subspecies are highly endangered due to severe poaching and habitat loss, and knowledge of their population structure is vital to their conservation. Previous studies have demonstrated marked genetic and morphological differences between forest and savanna elephants, and despite extensive sampling, genetic evidence of hybridization between them has been restricted largely to a few hybrids in the Garamba region of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here, we present new genetic data on hybridization from previously unsampled areas of Africa. Novel statistical methods applied to these data identify 46 hybrid samples--many more than have been previously identified--only two of which are from the Garamba region. The remaining 44 are from three other geographically distinct locations: a major hybrid zone along the border of the DRC and Uganda, a second potential hybrid zone in Central African Republic and a smaller fraction of hybrids in the Pendjari-Arli complex of West Africa. Most of the hybrids show evidence of interbreeding over more than one generation, demonstrating that hybrids are fertile. Mitochondrial and Y chromosome data demonstrate that the hybridization is bidirectional, involving males and females from both subspecies. We hypothesize that the hybrid zones may have been facilitated by poaching and habitat modification. The localized geography and rarity of hybrid zones, their possible facilitation from human pressures, and the high divergence and genetic distinctness of forest and savanna elephants throughout their ranges, are consistent with calls for separate species classification. PMID:26577954

  10. Nitrogen Dynamics of the Savanna Flux Site at Skukuza, Kruger National Park.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Woghiren, A. J.; Scholes, M.

    2001-12-01

    The SAFARI 2000 campaign aims at validating satellite-based estimates of photosynthesis and net primary productivity (NPP). The Skukuza site has two vegetation types, a Combretum (broad-leafed) savanna and an Acacia (fine-leafed) savanna. Since it is expected that these two vegetation types may have markedly different responses to global climate change, it is an ideal site for the Earth observing systems (EOS) validation experiment. NPP estimates need to be explained and supported using corresponding data on the N (nitrogen) budgets for the site. Plants capable of nitrogen fixation usually had higher % N and lower \\delta15N signatures than their non-nitrogen-fixing counterparts. Most species had isotopically enriched signatures relative to the standard, which was air. The mean enrichments for the legumes varied from -1.76 to 3.32%, while that of the non-legumes ranged from 3.02 to 7.08%. In the herbaceous layer, Stylosanthes fruticosa and Macrotyloma maranguense had the highest fixation rates, with 84% and 41% being contributed by each species respectively (4.9 - 6.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1 is fixed in this layer). Since these species occurred in dense patches at the broad-leafed site, it was assumed that this was the contribution of N2 fixation to this savanna. The dominant N2 fixing tree was Acacia nilotica, with 50 % of its N being fixed. Trees at the fine-leafed site fixed between 2.9 - 5.5 kg N ha-1 yr-1, while herbaceous legumes contributed 4.9 - 6.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1. Nitrogen mineralisation is seasonal, with particularly high rates of mineralisation in spring. In winter, NH4+ dominates at the fine-leafed site, when it is scarcely detectable at the broad-leafed site. On the other hand, nitrate prevails in summer at the fine-leafed site, while it is being immobilised at the broad-leafed site. In contrast to another South African savanna, NH4+ is detected in large quantities (0.85 μ g N g-1 dry soil day-1) at both sites during summer. The nitrification rates are

  11. Geostatistical analyses reveal nutrient-vegetation relationships in savanna soils

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mladenov, N.; Okin, G. S.; Cassel, D.; Caylor, K. C.; Clausen, K. M.

    2005-12-01

    The uniform Kalahari sands that underlay the Kalahari Transect (KT) are a unique test bed for examining soil nutrient and vegetation cover relationships in a savanna ecosystem. Transects (300m x 100m) were sampled and mapped for each of four sites located along an aridity gradient from Mongu, Zambia in the north (1600 mm/yr precipitation), to Tshane, Botswana in the south (250 mm/yr precipitation). Geostatistical analyses of soil chemistry and tree, shrub, and grass cover at four sites along the moisture gradient of the KT indicated an accumulation of nutrients below tree/shrub cover. In general, areas where grasses dominated between canopies were negatively correlated with soil nutrients at the drier sites. Here we examine effects of vegetation cover on soil productivity and differences in soil nutrients along the moisture gradient of the KT.

  12. Tree cover in sub-Saharan Africa: rainfall and fire constrain forest and savanna as alternative stable states.

    PubMed

    Staver, A Carla; Archibald, Sally; Levin, Simon

    2011-05-01

    Savannas are known as ecosystems with tree cover below climate-defined equilibrium values. However, a predictive framework for understanding constraints on tree cover is lacking. We present (a) a spatially extensive analysis of tree cover and fire distribution in sub-Saharan Africa, and (b) a model, based on empirical results, demonstrating that savanna and forest may be alternative stable states in parts of Africa, with implications for understanding savanna distributions. Tree cover does not increase continuously with rainfall, but rather is constrained to low (<50%, "savanna") or high tree cover (>75%, "forest"). Intermediate tree cover rarely occurs. Fire, which prevents trees from establishing, differentiates high and low tree cover, especially in areas with rainfall between 1000 mm and 2000 mm. Fire is less important at low rainfall (<1000 mm), where rainfall limits tree cover, and at high rainfall (>2000 mm), where fire is rare. This pattern suggests that complex interactions between climate and disturbance produce emergent alternative states in tree cover. The relationship between tree cover and fire was incorporated into a dynamic model including grass, savanna tree saplings, and savanna trees. Only recruitment from sapling to adult tree varied depending on the amount of grass in the system. Based on our empirical analysis and previous work, fires spread only at tree cover of 40% or less, producing a sigmoidal fire probability distribution as a function of grass cover and therefore a sigmoidal sapling to tree recruitment function. This model demonstrates that, given relatively conservative and empirically supported assumptions about the establishment of trees in savannas, alternative stable states for the same set of environmental conditions (i.e., model parameters) are possible via a fire feedback mechanism. Integrating alternative stable state dynamics into models of biome distributions could improve our ability to predict changes in biome distributions

  13. Assessing ecosystem response to multiple disturbances and climate change in South Africa using ground- and satellite-based measurements and model

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kutsch, W. L.; Falge, E. M.; Brümmer, C.; Mukwashi, K.; Schmullius, C.; Hüttich, C.; Odipo, V.; Scholes, R. J.; Mudau, A.; Midgley, G.; Stevens, N.; Hickler, T.; Scheiter, S.; Martens, C.; Twine, W.; Iiyambo, T.; Bradshaw, K.; Lück, W.; Lenfers, U.; Thiel-Clemen, T.; du Toit, J.

    2015-12-01

    Sub-Saharan Africa currently experiences rapidly growing human population, intrinsically tied to substantial changes in land use on shrubland, savanna and mixed woodland ecosystems due to over-exploitation. Significant conversions driving degradation, affecting fire frequency and water availability, and fueling climate change are expected to increase in the immediate future. However, measured data of greenhouse gas emissions as affected by land use change are scarce to entirely lacking from this region. The project 'Adaptive Resilience of Southern African Ecosystems' (ARS AfricaE) conducts research and develops scenarios of ecosystem development under climate change, for management support in conservation or for planning rural area development. This will be achieved by (1) creation of a network of research clusters (paired sites with natural and altered vegetation) along an aridity gradient in South Africa for ground-based micrometeorological in-situ measurements of energy and matter fluxes, (2) linking biogeochemical functions with ecosystem structure, and eco-physiological properties, (3) description of ecosystem disturbance (and recovery) in terms of ecosystem function such as carbon balance components and water use efficiency, (4) set-up of individual-based models to predict ecosystem dynamics under (post) disturbance managements, (5) combination with long-term landscape dynamic information derived from remote sensing and aerial photography, and (6) development of sustainable management strategies for disturbed ecosystems and land use change. Emphasis is given on validation (by a suite of field measurements) of estimates obtained from eddy covariance, model approaches and satellite derivations.

  14. Local versus landscape-scale effects of savanna trees on grasses

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Riginos, C.; Grace, J.B.; Augustine, D.J.; Young, T.P.

    2009-01-01

    1. Savanna ecosystems - defined by the coexistence of trees and grasses - cover more than one-fifth the world's land surface and harbour most of the world's rangelands, livestock and large mammal diversity. Savanna trees can have a variety of effects on grasses, with consequences for the wild and domestic herbivores that depend on them. 2.Studies of these effects have focused on two different spatial scales. At the scale of individual trees, many studies have shown net positive effects of trees on sub-canopy grass nutrient concentrations and biomass. At the landscape scale, other studies have shown negative effects of high tree densities on grass productivity. These disparate results have led to different conclusions about the effects of trees on forage quality and ungulate nutrition in savannas. 3.We integrate these approaches by examining the effects of trees on grasses at both spatial scales and across a range of landscape-scale tree densities. 4.We quantified grass biomass, species composition and nutrient concentrations in these different contexts in an Acacia drepanolobium savanna in Laikipia, Kenya. Individual trees had positive effects on grass biomass, most likely because trees enrich soil nitrogen. Grass leaf phosphorus in sub-canopy areas, however, was depressed. The effects of individual trees could explain the effects of increasing landscape-scale tree cover for the biomass of only two of the four dominant grass species. 5.The negative effects of trees on grass and soil phosphorus, combined with depressed grass productivity in areas of high tree cover, suggest that ungulate nutrition may be compromised in areas with many trees. 6.Synthesis. We conclude that few, isolated trees may have positive local effects on savanna grasses and forage, but in areas of high tree density the negative landscape-scale effects of trees are likely to outweigh these positive effects. In savannas and other patchy landscapes, attempts to predict the consequences of changes

  15. Patterns in volatile organic compound emissions along a savanna-rainforest gradient in central Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Klinger, L. F.; Greenburg, J.; Guenther, A.; Tyndall, G.; Zimmerman, P.; M'bangui, M.; Moutsamboté, J.-M.; Kenfack, D.

    1998-01-01

    In temperate regions the chemistry of the lower troposphere is known to be significantly affected by biogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by plants. The chemistry of the lower troposphere over the tropics, however, is poorly understood, in part because of the considerable uncertainties in VOC emissions from tropical ecosystems. Present global VOC models predict that base emissions of isoprene from tropical rainforests are considerably higher than from savannas. These global models of VOC emissions which rely mainly on species inventories are useful, but significant improvement might be made with more ecologically based models of VOC emissions by plants. Ecosystems along a successional transect from woodland savanna to primary rainforest in central Africa were characterized for species composition and vegetation abundance using ground surveys and remotely sensed data. A total of 336 species (mostly trees) at 13 sites were recorded, and 208 of these were measured for VOC emissions at near-optimal light and temperature conditions using a leaf cuvette and hand-held photoionization detector (PID). A subset of 59 species was also sampled using conventional VOC emission techniques in order to validate the PID technique. Results of ecological and VOC emission surveys indicate both phylogenetic and successional patterns along the savanna-rainforest transect. Genera and families of trees which tend to emit isoprene include Lophira, Irvingia, Albizia, Artocarpus, Ficus, Pterocarpus, Caesalpiniaceae, Arecaceae, and Moraceae. Other taxa tend to contain stored VOCs (Annonaceae and Asteraceae). Successional patterns suggest that isoprene emissions are highest in the relatively early successional Isoberlinia forest communities and progressively decrease in the later successional secondary and primary rainforest communities. Stored VOCs appear to increase along the savanna-rainforest succession, but these data are more tentative. These findings are consistent with

  16. Large-scale impacts of climate change on tropical West African ecosystems over the past ~540,000 years

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gosling, William; Miller, Charlotte; Kemp, David; Coe, Angela; Gilmour, Iain

    2016-04-01

    A paucity of empirical non-marine data means that uncertainty surrounds the impact of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems in tropical regions. The sedimentary-fill of the Bosumtwi impact crater (Ghana) provides the longest Quaternary terrestrial archive of environmental change in Africa, spanning the last ~540,000 years. Here we present a reconstruction of vegetation biomes and moisture availability in tropical West Africa for the past ~540,000 years using pollen analysis and the nitrogen isotope composition of bulk organic matter preserved in sediments from Lake Bosumtwi. Variations in grass pollen abundance (0-99%) indicate abrupt transitions between savannah and woodland biomes. Coeval variations in the nitrogen isotopic composition of organic matter indicate that intervals of savannah expansion coincided with minimum lake-levels and low regional moisture availability. The observed changes responded to orbitally paced global climate variations on both glacial-interglacial and shorter timescales. Importantly, the magnitude and abruptness of ecosystem change revealed by our data exceeds that previously determined from marine records, demonstrating for the first time the true sensitivity of tropical regions to Quaternary climate change.

  17. Bud protection: a key trait for species sorting in a forest-savanna mosaic.

    PubMed

    Charles-Dominique, Tristan; Beckett, Heath; Midgley, Guy F; Bond, William J

    2015-09-01

    Contrasting fire regimes maintain patch mosaics of savanna, thicket and forest biomes in many African subtropical landscapes. Species dominating each biome are thus expected to display distinct fire-related traits, commonly thought to be bark related. Recent Australian savanna research suggests that bud position, not bark protection alone, determines fire resilience via resprouting. We tested first how bud position influences resprouting ability in 17 tree species. We then compared the effect of both bark-related protection and bud position on the distribution of 63 tree species in 253 transects in all three biomes. Tree species with buds positioned deep under bark had a higher proportion of post-fire aboveground shoot resprouting. Species with low bud protection occurred in fire-prone biomes only if they could root-sucker. The effect of bud protection was supported by a good relationship between species bud protection and distribution across a gradient of fire frequency. Bud protection and high bark production are required to survive frequent fires in savanna. Forests are fire refugia hosting species with little or no bud protection and thin bark. Root-suckering species occur in the three biomes, suggesting that fire is not the only factor filtering this functional type.

  18. Savanna fire and the origins of the 'underground forests' of Africa.

    PubMed

    Maurin, Olivier; Davies, T Jonathan; Burrows, John E; Daru, Barnabas H; Yessoufou, Kowiyou; Muasya, A Muthama; van der Bank, Michelle; Bond, William J

    2014-10-01

    The origin of fire-adapted lineages is a long-standing question in ecology. Although phylogeny can provide a significant contribution to the ongoing debate, its use has been precluded by the lack of comprehensive DNA data. Here, we focus on the 'underground trees' (=geoxyles) of southern Africa, one of the most distinctive growth forms characteristic of fire-prone savannas. We placed geoxyles within the most comprehensive dated phylogeny for the regional flora comprising over 1400 woody species. Using this phylogeny, we tested whether African geoxyles evolved concomitantly with those of the South American cerrado and used their phylogenetic position to date the appearance of humid savannas. We found multiple independent origins of the geoxyle life-form mostly from the Pliocene, a period consistent with the origin of cerrado, with the majority of divergences occurring within the last 2 million yr. When contrasted with their tree relatives, geoxyles occur in regions characterized by higher rainfall and greater fire frequency. Our results indicate that the geoxylic growth form may have evolved in response to the interactive effects of frequent fires and high precipitation. As such, geoxyles may be regarded as markers of fire-maintained savannas occurring in climates suitable for forests.

  19. Bud protection: a key trait for species sorting in a forest-savanna mosaic.

    PubMed

    Charles-Dominique, Tristan; Beckett, Heath; Midgley, Guy F; Bond, William J

    2015-09-01

    Contrasting fire regimes maintain patch mosaics of savanna, thicket and forest biomes in many African subtropical landscapes. Species dominating each biome are thus expected to display distinct fire-related traits, commonly thought to be bark related. Recent Australian savanna research suggests that bud position, not bark protection alone, determines fire resilience via resprouting. We tested first how bud position influences resprouting ability in 17 tree species. We then compared the effect of both bark-related protection and bud position on the distribution of 63 tree species in 253 transects in all three biomes. Tree species with buds positioned deep under bark had a higher proportion of post-fire aboveground shoot resprouting. Species with low bud protection occurred in fire-prone biomes only if they could root-sucker. The effect of bud protection was supported by a good relationship between species bud protection and distribution across a gradient of fire frequency. Bud protection and high bark production are required to survive frequent fires in savanna. Forests are fire refugia hosting species with little or no bud protection and thin bark. Root-suckering species occur in the three biomes, suggesting that fire is not the only factor filtering this functional type. PMID:25856385

  20. Carbon monitoring of tree encroachment in Argentine savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gonzalez-Roglich, M.; Swenson, J. J.

    2013-12-01

    Land cover change dynamics alter ecosystem and climate functioning primarily through changes in matter cycles and energy fluxes. Woody plant encroachment in semiarid rangelands is a widespread process of land cover change driven by a combination of local land use practices and global environmental changes. Increases in woody plant cover alter the distribution of carbon and can affect water and nutrient s in the ecosystem. Rangelands comprise almost 45% of the global land surface, yet our understanding of the effects of woody plant encroachment is limited, in most cases, to fine resolution studies of the northern hemisphere. In this study we analyzed the consequences of woody plant encroachment on ecosystem carbon stocks at a regional scale (30,000 km2) across the transitional zone of the Western Pampas grasslands and the Caldenal Savannas of Argentina. A space-for-time substitution approach was used to analyze changes in C stocks in the woody plant, grass, litter and soil organic carbon pools along an encroachment gradient. We found a significant increase in ecosystem C stocks along the encroachment gradient, with mean values of 4.5, 8.4, 12.4, and 16.5 kgC/m2 for grasslands, shrublands, open and closed forests respectively. As in most semiarid systems, soil organic C is the single largest pool in the ecosystem, containing between 63 and 71% of the total C (1.5 m depth). Woody plant percent cover and soil texture (i.e. percent silt content), where the two primary factors accounting for the variability of C in the ecosystem, together explaining 81.0% and 84.7% of the variability in soil organic C and total ecosystem C stocks, respectively. This is the first study that assess the effect of woody plant encroachment at a regional scale in the Southern Hemisphere, finding important gains in ecosystem C stocks with the increase in woody plants cover. The very simple models presented here are a very valuable tool for rapid field assessment, and if combined with remotely

  1. Soil microbial communities following bush removal in a Namibian savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Buyer, J. S.; Schmidt-Küntzel, A.; Nghikembua, M.; Maul, J. E.; Marker, L.

    2015-12-01

    Savanna ecosystems are subject to desertification and bush encroachment, which reduce the carrying capacity for wildlife and livestock. Bush thinning is a management approach that can, at least temporarily, restore grasslands and raise the grazing value of the land. In this study we examined the soil microbial communities under bush and grass in Namibia. We analyzed the soil through a chronosequence where bush was thinned at 9, 5, or 3 years before sampling. Soil microbial biomass, the biomass of specific taxonomic groups, and overall microbial community structure was determined by phospholipid fatty acid analysis, while the community structure of Bacteria, Archaea, and fungi was determined by multiplex terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. Soil under bush had higher pH, C, N, and microbial biomass than under grass, and the microbial community structure was also altered under bush compared to grass. A major disturbance to the ecosystem, bush thinning, resulted in an altered microbial community structure compared to control plots, but the magnitude of this perturbation gradually declined with time. Community structure was primarily driven by pH, C, and N, while vegetation type, bush thinning, and time since bush thinning were of secondary importance.

  2. Soil microbial communities following bush removal in a Namibian savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Buyer, Jeffrey S.; Schmidt-Küntzel, Anne; Nghikembua, Matti; Maul, Jude E.; Marker, Laurie

    2016-03-01

    Savanna ecosystems are subject to desertification and bush encroachment, which reduce the carrying capacity for wildlife and livestock. Bush thinning is a management approach that can, at least temporarily, restore grasslands and raise the grazing value of the land. In this study we examined the soil microbial communities under bush and grass in Namibia. We analyzed the soil through a chronosequence where bush was thinned at 9, 5, or 3 years before sampling. Soil microbial biomass, the biomass of specific taxonomic groups, and overall microbial community structure was determined by phospholipid fatty acid analysis, while the community structure of Bacteria, Archaea, and fungi was determined by multiplex terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. Soil under bush had higher pH, C, N, and microbial biomass than under grass, and the microbial community structure was also altered under bush compared to grass. A major disturbance to the ecosystem, bush thinning, resulted in an altered microbial community structure compared to control plots, but the magnitude of this perturbation gradually declined with time. Community structure was primarily driven by pH, C, and N, while vegetation type, bush thinning, and time since bush thinning were of secondary importance.

  3. Drivers of Recent Trends in African Landscape Fires

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Andela, N.; van der Werf, G.

    2014-12-01

    Landscape fires play an important role in savannah ecosystem dynamics and are an important source of emissions of (greenhouse) gases and aerosols. Within the Monitoring Atmospheric Composition and Climate (MACC) project these fires are monitored using MODIS satellite data which now provides more than a decade of continuous observations. Africa is nowadays responsible for about 70% of global burned area and about 50% of fire carbon emissions, affecting regional air quality and global atmospheric composition. Although it has been reported that fire activity varies according to climatic and anthropogenic influences, much remains unclear about the drivers of the spatial distribution of fire activity over the African continent and its temporal dynamics. Resolving the drivers of this spatiotemporal variability is crucial to understand the future role of fire on the African continent. We developed a model to account for variations in fire activity due to climate, and investigated the role of sea surface temperatures on rainfall patterns and thus fire dynamics. Spatial variation and trends in cropland extent were used to improve understanding of underlying trends caused by socio-economic changes. Over 2001-2012, satellite observations indicate strong but opposing trends in the African hemispheres. Changes in precipitation, driven by the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which changed from El Niño to la Niña dominance over the study period, contributed substantially to the upward trend over southern Africa. This shift also contributed to the downward trend in northern Africa, but here rapid demographic and socio-economic developments contributed equally. Given the economic perspective of Africa and the oscillative nature of ENSO, future African savannah burned area will likely decline. Using MACC and GFED emissions estimates we expect that in the long term this decrease may be so substantial that forests may take over savannas as the main source of global fire

  4. Environmental resource management of the Munduruku savanna

    SciTech Connect

    Sheffler, E.M.; Southwick, E.E.

    1984-05-01

    For 13 years, the Munduruku were observed living in the savanna region located in South America in the Brazilian state of Para. The area is near the point where the states of Para, Amazonas, and Mato Grosso join their borders, and is utilized by about 200-300 Munduruku Amerindians. Their subsistence staple is manioc (a cassava), with fruits and meat included in the diet. Gold mining by Brazilians is a disruptive element in the resource management of the savanna habitat on the rim of the Amazon Basin. Direct and indirect results of mining interference are described. A study of the manner in which the Munduruku on the Cururu River (a tributary of the Tapajos) have handled the potentially disruptive rubber tapping suggests possible ways of reversing the interference. Several courses of action are discussed. 14 references, 3 figures, 2 tables.

  5. Environmental resource management on the Munduruku savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sheffler, E. Margaret; Southwick, Edward E.

    1984-05-01

    For 13 years, the Munduruku were observed living in the savanna region located in South America in the Brazilian state of Pará. The area is near the point where the states of Pará, Amazonas, and Mato Grosso join their borders, and is utilized by about 200 300 Munduruku Amerindians. Their subsistence staple is manioc (a cassava), with fruits and meat included in the diet. Gold mining by Brazilians is a disruptive element in the resource management of the savanna habitat on the rim of the Amazon Basin. Direct and indirect results of mining interference are described. A study of the manner in which the Munduruku on the Cururu River (a tributary of the Tapajós) have handled the potentially disruptive rubber tapping suggests possible ways of reversing the interference. Several courses of action are discussed.

  6. Bonobo habituation in a forest-savanna mosaic habitat: influence of ape species, habitat type, and sociocultural context.

    PubMed

    Narat, Victor; Pennec, Flora; Simmen, Bruno; Ngawolo, Jean Christophe Bokika; Krief, Sabrina

    2015-10-01

    Habituation is the term used to describe acceptance by wild animals of a human observer as a neutral element in their environment. Among primates, the process takes from a few days for Galago spp. to several years for African apes. There are also intraspecies differences reflecting differences in habitat, home range, and ape-human relationship history. Here, we present the first study of the process of bonobo habituation in a fragmented habitat, a forest-savanna mosaic in the community-based conservation area led by the Congolese nongovernmental organization Mbou-Mon-Tour, Democratic Republic of the Congo. In this area, local people use the forest almost every day for traditional activities but avoid bonobos because of a traditional taboo. Because very few flight reactions were observed during habituation, we focused on quantitative parameters to assess the development of ape tolerance and of the tracking efficiency of observer teams. During the 18-month study period (May 2012-October 2013), 4043 h (319 days) were spent in the forest and bonobos were observed for a total of 405 h (196 contacts on 134 days). The average contact duration was stable over time (124 min), but the minimal distance during a contact decreased with habituation effort. Moreover, bonobo location and tracking efficiency, daily ratio of contact time to habituation effort, and the number of observations at ground level were positively correlated with habituation effort. Our observations suggest that bonobos become habituated relatively rapidly. These results are discussed in relation to the habitat type, ape species, and the local sociocultural context of villagers. The habituation process involves changes in ape behavior toward observers and also more complex interactions concerning the ecosystem, including the building of an efficient local team. Before starting a habituation process, knowledge of the human sociocultural context is essential to assess the balance between risks and benefits.

  7. Bonobo habituation in a forest-savanna mosaic habitat: influence of ape species, habitat type, and sociocultural context.

    PubMed

    Narat, Victor; Pennec, Flora; Simmen, Bruno; Ngawolo, Jean Christophe Bokika; Krief, Sabrina

    2015-10-01

    Habituation is the term used to describe acceptance by wild animals of a human observer as a neutral element in their environment. Among primates, the process takes from a few days for Galago spp. to several years for African apes. There are also intraspecies differences reflecting differences in habitat, home range, and ape-human relationship history. Here, we present the first study of the process of bonobo habituation in a fragmented habitat, a forest-savanna mosaic in the community-based conservation area led by the Congolese nongovernmental organization Mbou-Mon-Tour, Democratic Republic of the Congo. In this area, local people use the forest almost every day for traditional activities but avoid bonobos because of a traditional taboo. Because very few flight reactions were observed during habituation, we focused on quantitative parameters to assess the development of ape tolerance and of the tracking efficiency of observer teams. During the 18-month study period (May 2012-October 2013), 4043 h (319 days) were spent in the forest and bonobos were observed for a total of 405 h (196 contacts on 134 days). The average contact duration was stable over time (124 min), but the minimal distance during a contact decreased with habituation effort. Moreover, bonobo location and tracking efficiency, daily ratio of contact time to habituation effort, and the number of observations at ground level were positively correlated with habituation effort. Our observations suggest that bonobos become habituated relatively rapidly. These results are discussed in relation to the habitat type, ape species, and the local sociocultural context of villagers. The habituation process involves changes in ape behavior toward observers and also more complex interactions concerning the ecosystem, including the building of an efficient local team. Before starting a habituation process, knowledge of the human sociocultural context is essential to assess the balance between risks and benefits

  8. Crown cover chart for oak savannas. Forest Service technical brief

    SciTech Connect

    Law, J.R.; Johnson, P.S.; Houf, G.

    1994-07-01

    Although oak savannas have been defined in many ways, they are characterized by scattered trees, largely comprised of oaks, and a sparse ground layer rich in grasses and forbs. The crown cover chart can be used to estimate the crown cover of trees as a percent of total area. Potential applications of the chart include monitoring changes in savanna crown cover, determining needed reductions in crown cover, and defining the savanna state. in restoring savannas that have grown into closed canopy stands, one can use the chart to estimate initial crown cover before restoration work is begun and again after crown cover has been reduced.

  9. Mammals of Australia's Tropical Savannas: A Conceptual Model of Assemblage Structure and Regulatory Factors in the Kimberley Region

    PubMed Central

    Radford, Ian J.; Dickman, Christopher R.; Start, Antony N.; Palmer, Carol; Carnes, Karin; Everitt, Corrin; Fairman, Richard; Graham, Gordon; Partridge, Thalie; Thomson, Allan

    2014-01-01

    We construct a state-and-transition model for mammals in tropical savannas in northern Australia to synthesize ecological knowledge and understand mammalian declines. We aimed to validate the existence of alternative mammal assemblage states similar to those in arid Australian grasslands, and to speculate on transition triggers. Based on the arid grassland model, we hypothesized that assemblages are partitioned across rainfall gradients and between substrates. We also predicted that assemblages typical of arid regions in boom periods would be prevalent in savannas with higher and more regular rainfall. Data from eight mammal surveys from the Kimberley region, Western Australia (1994 to 2011) were collated. Survey sites were partitioned across rainfall zones and habitats. Data allowed us to identify three assemblage states: State 0:- low numbers of mammals, State II:- dominated by omnivorous rodents and State III:- dominated by rodents and larger marsupials. Unlike arid grasslands, assemblage dominance by insectivorous dasyurids (State I) did not occur in savannas. Mammal assemblages were partitioned across rainfall zones and between substrates as predicted, but—unlike arid regions—were not related strongly to yearly rainfall. Mammal assemblage composition showed high regional stability, probably related to high annual rainfall and predictable wet season resource pulses. As a consequence, we speculate that perpetually booming assemblages in savannas allow top-down control of the ecosystem, with suppression of introduced cats by the dingo, the region's top predator. Under conditions of low or erratic productivity, imposed increasingly by intense fire regimes and introduced herbivore grazing, dingoes may not limit impacts of cats on native mammals. These interacting factors may explain contemporary declines of savanna mammals as well as historical declines in arid Australia. The cat-ecosystem productivity hypothesis raised here differs from the already

  10. Mammals of Australia's tropical savannas: a conceptual model of assemblage structure and regulatory factors in the Kimberley region.

    PubMed

    Radford, Ian J; Dickman, Christopher R; Start, Antony N; Palmer, Carol; Carnes, Karin; Everitt, Corrin; Fairman, Richard; Graham, Gordon; Partridge, Thalie; Thomson, Allan

    2014-01-01

    We construct a state-and-transition model for mammals in tropical savannas in northern Australia to synthesize ecological knowledge and understand mammalian declines. We aimed to validate the existence of alternative mammal assemblage states similar to those in arid Australian grasslands, and to speculate on transition triggers. Based on the arid grassland model, we hypothesized that assemblages are partitioned across rainfall gradients and between substrates. We also predicted that assemblages typical of arid regions in boom periods would be prevalent in savannas with higher and more regular rainfall. Data from eight mammal surveys from the Kimberley region, Western Australia (1994 to 2011) were collated. Survey sites were partitioned across rainfall zones and habitats. Data allowed us to identify three assemblage states: State 0:--low numbers of mammals, State II:--dominated by omnivorous rodents and State III:--dominated by rodents and larger marsupials. Unlike arid grasslands, assemblage dominance by insectivorous dasyurids (State I) did not occur in savannas. Mammal assemblages were partitioned across rainfall zones and between substrates as predicted, but-unlike arid regions-were not related strongly to yearly rainfall. Mammal assemblage composition showed high regional stability, probably related to high annual rainfall and predictable wet season resource pulses. As a consequence, we speculate that perpetually booming assemblages in savannas allow top-down control of the ecosystem, with suppression of introduced cats by the dingo, the region's top predator. Under conditions of low or erratic productivity, imposed increasingly by intense fire regimes and introduced herbivore grazing, dingoes may not limit impacts of cats on native mammals. These interacting factors may explain contemporary declines of savanna mammals as well as historical declines in arid Australia. The cat-ecosystem productivity hypothesis raised here differs from the already-articulated cat

  11. Mammals of Australia's tropical savannas: a conceptual model of assemblage structure and regulatory factors in the Kimberley region.

    PubMed

    Radford, Ian J; Dickman, Christopher R; Start, Antony N; Palmer, Carol; Carnes, Karin; Everitt, Corrin; Fairman, Richard; Graham, Gordon; Partridge, Thalie; Thomson, Allan

    2014-01-01

    We construct a state-and-transition model for mammals in tropical savannas in northern Australia to synthesize ecological knowledge and understand mammalian declines. We aimed to validate the existence of alternative mammal assemblage states similar to those in arid Australian grasslands, and to speculate on transition triggers. Based on the arid grassland model, we hypothesized that assemblages are partitioned across rainfall gradients and between substrates. We also predicted that assemblages typical of arid regions in boom periods would be prevalent in savannas with higher and more regular rainfall. Data from eight mammal surveys from the Kimberley region, Western Australia (1994 to 2011) were collated. Survey sites were partitioned across rainfall zones and habitats. Data allowed us to identify three assemblage states: State 0:--low numbers of mammals, State II:--dominated by omnivorous rodents and State III:--dominated by rodents and larger marsupials. Unlike arid grasslands, assemblage dominance by insectivorous dasyurids (State I) did not occur in savannas. Mammal assemblages were partitioned across rainfall zones and between substrates as predicted, but-unlike arid regions-were not related strongly to yearly rainfall. Mammal assemblage composition showed high regional stability, probably related to high annual rainfall and predictable wet season resource pulses. As a consequence, we speculate that perpetually booming assemblages in savannas allow top-down control of the ecosystem, with suppression of introduced cats by the dingo, the region's top predator. Under conditions of low or erratic productivity, imposed increasingly by intense fire regimes and introduced herbivore grazing, dingoes may not limit impacts of cats on native mammals. These interacting factors may explain contemporary declines of savanna mammals as well as historical declines in arid Australia. The cat-ecosystem productivity hypothesis raised here differs from the already-articulated cat

  12. Ecohydrology of Water-controlled Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Rodríguez-Iturbe, Ignacio; Porporato, Amilcare

    2005-01-01

    Addressing the connections between the hydrologic cycle and plant ecosystems, the authors build suitable mathematical models and apply them to studying the ecosystem structure. Response to rainfall and climate forcing is analyzed from different areas of the world, including savannas, grasslands and forests. The book will appeal to advanced students and researchers in environmental science, hydrology, ecology, earth science, civil and environmental engineering, agriculture, and atmospheric science.

  13. Sustainable development and use of ecosystems with non-forest trees

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Non-forest trees are components of managed ecosystems including orchards and agroforestry systems and natural ecosystems such as savannas and riparian corridors. Each of these ecosystems includes trees but does not have a complete tree canopy or spatial extent necessary to create a true forest ecosy...

  14. Carbon mapping of Argentine savannas: Using fractional tree cover to scale from field to region

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    González-Roglich, M.; Swenson, J. J.

    2015-12-01

    Programs which intend to maintain or enhance carbon (C) stocks in natural ecosystems are promising, but require detailed and spatially explicit C distribution models to monitor the effectiveness of management interventions. Savanna ecosystems are significant components of the global C cycle, covering about one fifth of the global land mass, but they have received less attention in C monitoring protocols. Our goal was to estimate C storage across a broad savanna ecosystem using field surveys and freely available satellite images. We first mapped tree canopies at 2.5 m resolution with a spatial subset of high resolution panchromatic images to then predict regional wall-to-wall tree percent cover using 30-m Landsat imagery and the Random Forests algorithms. We found that a model with summer and winter spectral indices from Landsat, climate and topography performed best. Using a linear relationship between C and % tree cover, we then predicted tree C stocks across the gradient of tree cover, explaining 87 % of the variability. The spatially explicit validation of the tree C model with field-measured C-stocks revealed an RMSE of 8.2 tC/ha which represented ~30% of the mean C stock for areas with tree cover, comparable to studies based on more advanced remote sensing methods, such as LiDAR and RADAR. Sample spatial distribution highly affected the performance of the RF models in predicting tree cover, raising concerns regarding the predictive capabilities of the model in areas for which training data is not present. The 50,000 km2 has ~41 Tg C, which could be released to the atmosphere if agricultural pressure intensifies in this semiarid savanna.

  15. The ecohydrologic significance of hydraulic redistribution in a semiarid savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Scott, Russell L.; Cable, William L.; Hultine, Kevin R.

    2008-02-01

    Recent studies have illuminated the process of hydraulic redistribution, defined as the translocation of soil moisture via plant root systems, but the long-term ecohydrologic significance of this process is poorly understood. We investigated hydraulic redistribution (HR) by Prosopis velutina Woot. (velvet mesquite) in an upland savanna ecosystem over a two-year period. Our goal was to quantify patterns of HR by mesquite roots and assess how this affects tree water use and productivity. We used the heat ratio method to monitor bi-directional sap flow, an analog of HR, in both lateral and tap roots. Additionally, we monitored soil water content and used the eddy covariance technique to quantify ecosystem carbon dioxide and water exchange. Mesquite roots redistributed large amounts of water throughout the year, even during periods of canopy dormancy. Dormant season precipitation (November-March) was often taken up by shallow lateral roots and transferred downward in the soil profile by deeper lateral and tap roots. Such a transfer was also apparent when the trees were active and moisture from summer rainfall was plant available in the upper soil layers. As the upper soil layers dried, sap flow moving toward the canopy in the lateral roots diminished and water use from deeper soils increased via the taproots. The relationship between root sap flow and above-canopy fluxes suggested that deeper "stored" water from HR allowed the trees to transpire more in the spring that followed a winter with significant downward redistribution. Patterns of lateral and tap root sap flow also implied that redistribution may extend the growing season of the trees after summer rains have ended and surface soils are dry, thus allowing the trees to photosynthesize through periods of seasonal drought. The large hydrologic magnitude and the ecological effects of HR we studied, along with mounting evidence of this process occurring in many other ecosystems, indicates that HR should be accounted

  16. Origin and dynamics of the northern South American coastal savanna belt during the Holocene - the role of climate, sea-level, fire and humans

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alizadeh, Kamaleddin; Cohen, Marcelo; Behling, Hermann

    2015-08-01

    Presence of a coastal savanna belt expanding from British Guiana to northeastern Brazil cannot be explained by present-day climate. Using pollen and charcoal analyses on an 11.6 k old sediment core from a coastal depression in the savanna belt near the mouth of the Amazon River we investigated the paleoenvironmental history to shed light on this question. Results indicate that small areas of savanna accompanied by a forest type composed primarily by the genus Micropholis (Sapotaceae) that has no modern analog existed at the beginning of the Holocene. After 11,200 cal yr BP, savanna accompanied by few trees replaced the forest. In depressions swamp forest developed and by ca 10,000 cal yr BP replaced by Mauritia swamps. Between 8500 and 5600 cal yr BP gallery forest (composed mainly of Euphorbiaceae) and swamp forest succeeded the treeless savanna. The modern vegetation with alternating gallery forest and savanna developed after 5600 cal yr BP. We suggest that the early Holocene no-analog forest is a relict of previously more extensive forest under cooler and moister Lateglacial conditions. The early Holocene savanna expansion indicates a drier phase probably related to the shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) towards its northernmost position. The mid-Holocene forest expansion is probably a result of the combined influence of equatorwards shift of ITCZ joining the South Atlantic Convergence Zone (SACZ). The ecosystem variability during the last 5600 cal yr BP, formed perhaps under influence of intensified ENSO condition. High charcoal concentrations, especially during the early Holocene, indicate that natural and/or anthropogenic fires may have maintained the savanna. However, our results propose that climate change is the main driving factor for the formation of the coastal savanna in this region. Our results also show that the early Holocene sea level rise established mangroves near the study site until 7500 cal yr BP and promoted

  17. Will savannas survive outside the parks? A lesson from Zambia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kutsch, W.; Merbold, L.; Scholes, B.; Mukelabai, M.

    2012-04-01

    Miombo woodlands cover the transition zone between dry open savannas and moist forests in Southern Africa. They cover about 2.7 million km2 in southern Africa and provide many ecosystem services that support rural life, including medical products, wild foods, construction timber and fuel. In Zambia, as in many of its neighbouring countries, miombo woodlands are currently experiencing accelerating degradation and clearing, mostly with charcoal production as the initial driver. Domestic energy needs in the growing urban areas are largely satisfied by charcoal, which is less energy-efficient fuel on a tree-to-table basis than the firewood that is used in rural areas, but has a higher energy density and is thus cheaper to transport. This study uses data from inventories and from eddy covariance measurements of carbon exchange to characterize the impact of charcoal production on miombo woodlands. We address the following questions: (i) how much carbon is lost at local as well as at national scale and (ii) does forest degradation result in the loss of a carbon sink? On the basis of our data we (iii) estimate the per capita emissions through deforestation and forest degradation in Zambia and relate it to fossil fuel emissions. Furthermore, (iv) a rough estimate of the energy that is provided by charcoal production to private households at a national level is calculated and (v) options for alternative energy supply to private households are discussed.

  18. Managing the matrix: decadal responses of eucalypt-dominated savanna to ambient fire regimes.

    PubMed

    Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Price, Owen F; Murphy, Brett P

    2010-09-01

    Much of our understanding of the response of savanna systems to fire disturbance relies on observations derived from manipulative fire plot studies. Equivocal findings from both recent Australian and African savanna fire plot assessments have significant implications for informing conservation management and reliable estimation of biomass stocks and dynamics. Influential northern Australian replicated fire plot studies include the 24-year plot-scale Munmarlary and the five-year catchment-scale Kapalga, mesic savanna (> 1000 mm/yr of rainfall) experiments in present-day Kakadu National Park. At Munmarlary, under low-to-moderate-intensity fire treatments, woody vegetation dominated by mature eucalypts was found to be structurally stable. At Kapalga, substantial declines in woody biomass were observed under more intense fire treatments, and modeling assessments implicate early-season fires as having adverse effects on longer-term tree recruitment. Given these contrasting perspectives, here we take advantage of a landscape-scale fire response monitoring program established on three major northern Australian conservation reserves (Kakadu, Litchfield, and Nitmiluk National Parks). Using statistical modeling we assess the decadal effects of ambient fire regime parameters (fire frequency, severity, seasonality, time since fire) on 32 vegetation structure components and abundance of 21 tree and 16 grass species from 122 monitoring plots. Over the study period the mean annual frequency of burning of plots was 0.53, comprising mostly early-dry-season, low-severity fires. Structural and species responses were variable but often substantial, notably resulting in stem recruitment and declines in juveniles, but only weakly explained by fire regime and habitat variables. Modeling of these observations under three realistic scenarios (increased fire severity under projected worsening climate change; modest and significant reductions in fire frequency to meet conservation criteria

  19. Managing the matrix: decadal responses of eucalypt-dominated savanna to ambient fire regimes.

    PubMed

    Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Price, Owen F; Murphy, Brett P

    2010-09-01

    Much of our understanding of the response of savanna systems to fire disturbance relies on observations derived from manipulative fire plot studies. Equivocal findings from both recent Australian and African savanna fire plot assessments have significant implications for informing conservation management and reliable estimation of biomass stocks and dynamics. Influential northern Australian replicated fire plot studies include the 24-year plot-scale Munmarlary and the five-year catchment-scale Kapalga, mesic savanna (> 1000 mm/yr of rainfall) experiments in present-day Kakadu National Park. At Munmarlary, under low-to-moderate-intensity fire treatments, woody vegetation dominated by mature eucalypts was found to be structurally stable. At Kapalga, substantial declines in woody biomass were observed under more intense fire treatments, and modeling assessments implicate early-season fires as having adverse effects on longer-term tree recruitment. Given these contrasting perspectives, here we take advantage of a landscape-scale fire response monitoring program established on three major northern Australian conservation reserves (Kakadu, Litchfield, and Nitmiluk National Parks). Using statistical modeling we assess the decadal effects of ambient fire regime parameters (fire frequency, severity, seasonality, time since fire) on 32 vegetation structure components and abundance of 21 tree and 16 grass species from 122 monitoring plots. Over the study period the mean annual frequency of burning of plots was 0.53, comprising mostly early-dry-season, low-severity fires. Structural and species responses were variable but often substantial, notably resulting in stem recruitment and declines in juveniles, but only weakly explained by fire regime and habitat variables. Modeling of these observations under three realistic scenarios (increased fire severity under projected worsening climate change; modest and significant reductions in fire frequency to meet conservation criteria

  20. Defoliation by pastoralists affects savanna tree seedling dynamics by limiting the facilitative role of canopy cover.

    PubMed

    Bufford, Jennifer L; Gaoue, Orou G

    2015-07-01

    Recurrent tree defoliation by pastoralists, akin to herbivory, can negatively affect plant reproduction and population dynamics. However, our understanding of the indirect role of defoliation in seedling recruitment and tree-grass dynamics in tropical savanna is limited. In West African savanna, Fulani pastoralists frequently defoliate several fodder tree species to feed livestock in the dry season. We investigated the direct and indirect effects of recurrent defoliation of African mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) by Fulani people on seedling (< 2 cm basal diameter) and sapling dynamics in West Africa using four years of demographic data on seedling and sapling density, growth, and survival, coupled with fruit production and microhabitat data over the same time period. Tree canopy cover facilitated seedlings but had negative effects on sapling growth possibly via intraspecific competition with adult plants. Interspecific competition with grasses strongly reduced seedling survival but had a weak effect on sapling growth. Fire reduced seedling survival and weakly reduced growth of seedlings and saplings, but did not affect sapling survival. These results indicate that the effect of fire on seedlings and saplings is distinct, a mechanism suitable for an episodic recruitment of seedlings into the sapling stage and consistent with predictions from the demographic bottleneck model. Defoliation affected seedling density and sapling growth through changes in canopy cover, but had no effect on seedling growth and sapling survival. In the moist region, sapling density was higher in sites with low-intensity defoliation, indicating that defoliation may strengthen the tree recruitment bottleneck. Our study suggests that large-scale defoliation can alter the facilitative role of nurse trees on seedling dynamics and tree-sapling competition. Given that tree defoliation by local people is a widespread activity throughout savanna-forest systems in West Africa, it has the potential to

  1. Increasing the Confidence of African Carbon Cycle Assessments

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ardö, Jonas

    2016-04-01

    Scarcity of in situ measurements of greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes hamper calibration and validation of assessments of carbon budgets in Africa. It limits essential studies of ecosystem function and ecosystem processes. The wide range reported net primary production (NPP) and gross primary production (GPP) for continental African is partly a function of the uncertainty originating from this data scarcity. GPP estimates, based on vegetation models and remote sensing based models, range from ~17 to ~40 Pg C yr‑1 and NPP estimates roughly range from ~7 to ~20 Pg C yr‑1 for continental Africa. According to the MOD17 product does Africa contribute about 23 % of the global GPP and about 25 % of the global NPP. These percentages have recently increased slightly. Differences in modeled carbon use efficiency (i.e. the NPP/GPP ratio) further enhance the uncertainty caused by low spatial resolution driver data sets when deriving NPP from GPP. Current substantial uncertainty in vegetation productivity estimates for Africa (both magnitudes and carbon use efficiency) may be reduced by increased abundance and availability of in situ collected field data including meteorology, radiation, spectral properties, GHG fluxes as well as long term ecological field experiments. Current measurements of GHGs fluxes in Africa are sparse and lacking impressive coordination. The European Fluxes Database Cluster includes ~24 African sites with carbon flux data, most of them with a small amount of data in short time series. Large and diverse biomes such as the evergreen broad leafed forest are under-represented whereas savannas are slightly better represented. USA for example, with 171 flux site listed in FLUXNET has a flux site density of 17 sites per million km2, whereas Africa has density of 0.8 sites per million km2. Increased and coordinated collection of data on fluxes of GHGs, ecosystem properties and processes, both through advanced micro meteorological measurements and through cost

  2. Increasing the Confidence of African Carbon Cycle Assessments

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ardö, Jonas

    2016-04-01

    Scarcity of in situ measurements of greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes hamper calibration and validation of assessments of carbon budgets in Africa. It limits essential studies of ecosystem function and ecosystem processes. The wide range reported net primary production (NPP) and gross primary production (GPP) for continental African is partly a function of the uncertainty originating from this data scarcity. GPP estimates, based on vegetation models and remote sensing based models, range from ~17 to ~40 Pg C yr-1 and NPP estimates roughly range from ~7 to ~20 Pg C yr-1 for continental Africa. According to the MOD17 product does Africa contribute about 23 % of the global GPP and about 25 % of the global NPP. These percentages have recently increased slightly. Differences in modeled carbon use efficiency (i.e. the NPP/GPP ratio) further enhance the uncertainty caused by low spatial resolution driver data sets when deriving NPP from GPP. Current substantial uncertainty in vegetation productivity estimates for Africa (both magnitudes and carbon use efficiency) may be reduced by increased abundance and availability of in situ collected field data including meteorology, radiation, spectral properties, GHG fluxes as well as long term ecological field experiments. Current measurements of GHGs fluxes in Africa are sparse and lacking impressive coordination. The European Fluxes Database Cluster includes ~24 African sites with carbon flux data, most of them with a small amount of data in short time series. Large and diverse biomes such as the evergreen broad leafed forest are under-represented whereas savannas are slightly better represented. USA for example, with 171 flux site listed in FLUXNET has a flux site density of 17 sites per million km2, whereas Africa has density of 0.8 sites per million km2. Increased and coordinated collection of data on fluxes of GHGs, ecosystem properties and processes, both through advanced micro meteorological measurements and through cost

  3. The magnitude and persistence of soil NO, N{sub 2}O, CH{sub 4}, and CO{sub 2} fluxes from burned tropical savanna in Brazil

    SciTech Connect

    Poth, M.; Riggan, P.J.; Anderson, I.C.

    1995-12-01

    This paper reports the results of trace gas flux measurements from savanna soils in Brazil, and the effect of burning on gas flux rates. The significance of fire disturbance of tropical savanna on a global scale is also assessed. Flux of nitrogen oxide (NO), nitrous oxide (N{sub 2}O), methane (CH{sub 4}), and carbon dioxide (CO{sub 2}) was measured on savanna sites that had been burned within the previous 2 days, after 30 days, and after 1 year. The role of microbial communities in producing observed fluxes of trace gases was assessed by using nitrification inhibitors. The mean soil emissions of NO immediately after burning were among the highest observed for any ecosystem previously studied. NO and N{sub 2}O fluxes were highest from newly burned soils after the addition of water. Emissions rates declined with time after burning and within one year had returned to control levels. The data suggest that burned and unburned tropical savanna are both a major source of tropospheric NO. Savanna also appeared to be a minor N{sub 2}O source and an atmospheric CH{sub 4} sink. CO{sub 2} fluxes remained elevated one year after burning. The study demonstrated that fire is an important regulator of trace gas exchange between tropical soils and the atmosphere. 48 refs., 6 figs., 3 tabs.

  4. Impacts of climate variability on functional diversity and species distribution in dryland ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Caylor, K. K.; Franz, T.

    2008-12-01

    The role rainfall heterogeneity is an important but poorly understood aspect of ecosystem function in dryland communities. While general relationships between annual rainfall and tree cover have been revealed through meta-analysis and inter-site comparisons, the impact of rainfall variability on both functional and species-level biodiversity has received less attention. However, it is likely that shifts in the seasonality, and distribution of rainfall (i.e. changes in daily storm frequency and/or storm intensity) could substantially alter waterbalance of dryland ecosystems. In particular, the distribution of plant water use and plant water stress (proxies for growth and survival, respectively) are highly dependent on the temporal signatures of rainfall events within and between growing seasons. Therefore, ecosystem resilience is likely to be dependent on the functional - and species-level - responses of ecosystems to shifts in rainfall timing and intensity. This presentation will explore the potential and observed impacts of both seasonal and inter-annual variability in rainfall distribution in two classic dryland ecosystems. The first is the Kalahari region of southern Africa, where seasonal variability in rainfall patterns leads to functional organization of trees and grasses across a large climate gradient that optimize water use and minimize water stress. The second example is drawn from an east African savanna in Kenya, where observed shifts in rainfall seasonality are used to infer changes in the spatial distributions in the dominant woody species. Finally, I will address the critical need for new observational frameworks capable of directly measuring plant and ecosystem-scale responses to rainfall heterogeneity and propose a sampling design capable of resolving the functional response of vegetation to rainfall heterogeneity in water-limited landscapes.

  5. Molecular phylogeny of Panaspis and Afroablepharus skinks (Squamata: Scincidae) in the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa.

    PubMed

    Medina, Maria F; Bauer, Aaron M; Branch, William R; Schmitz, Andreas; Conradie, Werner; Nagy, Zoltán T; Hibbitts, Toby J; Ernst, Raffael; Portik, Daniel M; Nielsen, Stuart V; Colston, Timothy J; Kusamba, Chifundera; Behangana, Mathias; Rödel, Mark-Oliver; Greenbaum, Eli

    2016-07-01

    African snake-eyed skinks are relatively small lizards of the genera Panaspis and Afroablepharus. Species allocation of these genera frequently changed during the 20th century based on morphology, ecology, and biogeography. Members of these genera occur primarily in savanna habitats throughout sub-Saharan Africa and include species whose highly conserved morphology poses challenges for taxonomic studies. We sequenced two mitochondrial (16S and cyt b) and two nuclear genes (PDC and RAG1) from 76 Panaspis and Afroablepharus samples from across eastern, central, and southern Africa. Concatenated gene-tree and divergence-dating analyses were conducted to infer phylogenies and biogeographic patterns. Molecular data sets revealed several cryptic lineages, with most radiations occurring during the mid-Miocene to Pliocene. We infer that rifting processes (including the formation of the East African Rift System) and climatic oscillations contributed to the expansion and contraction of savannas, and caused cladogenesis in snake-eyed skinks. Species in Panaspis and Afroablepharus used in this study, including type species for both genera, formed a monophyletic group. As a result, the latter genus should be synonymized with the former, which has priority. Conservatively, we continue to include the West African species P. breviceps and P. togoensis within an expanded Panaspis, but note that they occur in relatively divergent clades, and their taxonomic status may change with improved taxon sampling. Divergence estimates and cryptic speciation patterns of snake-eyed skinks were consistent with previous studies of other savanna vertebrate lineages from the same areas examined in this study. PMID:27118179

  6. Molecular phylogeny of Panaspis and Afroablepharus skinks (Squamata: Scincidae) in the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa.

    PubMed

    Medina, Maria F; Bauer, Aaron M; Branch, William R; Schmitz, Andreas; Conradie, Werner; Nagy, Zoltán T; Hibbitts, Toby J; Ernst, Raffael; Portik, Daniel M; Nielsen, Stuart V; Colston, Timothy J; Kusamba, Chifundera; Behangana, Mathias; Rödel, Mark-Oliver; Greenbaum, Eli

    2016-07-01

    African snake-eyed skinks are relatively small lizards of the genera Panaspis and Afroablepharus. Species allocation of these genera frequently changed during the 20th century based on morphology, ecology, and biogeography. Members of these genera occur primarily in savanna habitats throughout sub-Saharan Africa and include species whose highly conserved morphology poses challenges for taxonomic studies. We sequenced two mitochondrial (16S and cyt b) and two nuclear genes (PDC and RAG1) from 76 Panaspis and Afroablepharus samples from across eastern, central, and southern Africa. Concatenated gene-tree and divergence-dating analyses were conducted to infer phylogenies and biogeographic patterns. Molecular data sets revealed several cryptic lineages, with most radiations occurring during the mid-Miocene to Pliocene. We infer that rifting processes (including the formation of the East African Rift System) and climatic oscillations contributed to the expansion and contraction of savannas, and caused cladogenesis in snake-eyed skinks. Species in Panaspis and Afroablepharus used in this study, including type species for both genera, formed a monophyletic group. As a result, the latter genus should be synonymized with the former, which has priority. Conservatively, we continue to include the West African species P. breviceps and P. togoensis within an expanded Panaspis, but note that they occur in relatively divergent clades, and their taxonomic status may change with improved taxon sampling. Divergence estimates and cryptic speciation patterns of snake-eyed skinks were consistent with previous studies of other savanna vertebrate lineages from the same areas examined in this study.

  7. Savanna vegetation-fire-climate relationships differ among continents.

    PubMed

    Lehmann, Caroline E R; Anderson, T Michael; Sankaran, Mahesh; Higgins, Steven I; Archibald, Sally; Hoffmann, William A; Hanan, Niall P; Williams, Richard J; Fensham, Roderick J; Felfili, Jeanine; Hutley, Lindsay B; Ratnam, Jayashree; San Jose, Jose; Montes, Ruben; Franklin, Don; Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Ryan, Casey M; Durigan, Giselda; Hiernaux, Pierre; Haidar, Ricardo; Bowman, David M J S; Bond, William J

    2014-01-31

    Ecologists have long sought to understand the factors controlling the structure of savanna vegetation. Using data from 2154 sites in savannas across Africa, Australia, and South America, we found that increasing moisture availability drives increases in fire and tree basal area, whereas fire reduces tree basal area. However, among continents, the magnitude of these effects varied substantially, so that a single model cannot adequately represent savanna woody biomass across these regions. Historical and environmental differences drive the regional variation in the functional relationships between woody vegetation, fire, and climate. These same differences will determine the regional responses of vegetation to future climates, with implications for global carbon stocks.

  8. The role of savannas in the terrestrial Si cycle: A case-study from Lamto, Ivory Coast

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alexandre, Anne; Bouvet, Mickael; Abbadie, Luc

    2011-08-01

    uptake is more than 1.5 higher in the savanna than in the rainforest (from 33 to 85 kg/ha/yr in the savanna vs 21 kg/ha/yr in the rainforest). On the contrary, DSi output from soils to stream water, which is not controlled by plant Si cycling but more likely by the soil hydrological regime (or meteoric weathering), is close to twice as high in the rainforest/ferrallitic soil ecosystem (16 vs 9 kg/ha/yr). This case study suggests that the predicted expansion of savannas at the expense of forests should significantly increase DSi uptake by plants, BSi storage in soils, BSi output with ash exportation, and, hence, LSi release through chemical weathering, without direct impact on DSi outputs from soils to stream water. Tracks for further assessing the role of plant Si cycling on chemical weathering, Si and C cycles were suggested: 1) estimates of BSi fluxes that were wrongly based on the assumption that the amount of DSi leached out from soils is linked to the magnitude of plant Si cycling and/or to BSi concentration in soils should be reappraised and 2) changes in the magnitude of plant Si cycling should be accounted in geochemical carbon cycle models, for one of the plant-induced weathering mechanisms.

  9. The role of savannas in the terrestrial Si cycle: A case-study from Lamto, Ivory Coast

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alexandre, A. E.; Abbadie, L.

    2011-12-01

    uptake is more than 1.5 higher in the savanna than in the rainforest (from 33 to 85 kg/ha/yr in the savanna vs 21 kg/ha/yr in the rainforest). On the contrary, DSi output from soils to stream water, which is not controlled by plant Si cycling but more likely by the soil hydrological regime (or meteoric weathering), is close to twice as high in the rainforest/ferrallitic soil ecosystem (16 vs 9 kg/ha/yr). This case study suggests that the predicted expansion of savannas at the expense of forests should significantly increase DSi uptake by plants, BSi storage in soils, BSi output with ash exportation, and, hence, LSi release through chemical weathering, without direct impact on DSi outputs from soils to stream water. Tracks for further assessing the role of plant Si cycling on chemical weathering, Si and C cycles were suggested: 1) estimates of BSi fluxes that were wrongly based on the assumption that the amount of DSi leached out from soils is linked to the magnitude of plant Si cycling and/or to BSi concentration in soils should be reappraised and 2) changes in the magnitude of plant Si cycling should be accounted in geochemical carbon cycle models, for one of the plant-induced weathering mechanisms.

  10. Climate-biomes, pedo-biomes and pyro-biomes: which world view explains the tropical forest - savanna boundary in South America?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Langan, Liam; Higgins, Steven; Scheiter, Simon

    2015-04-01

    Elucidating the drivers of broad vegetation formations improves our understanding of earth system functioning. The biome, defined primarily by the dominance of a particular growth strategy, is commonly employed to group vegetation into similar units. Predicting tropical forest and savanna biome boundaries in South America has proven difficult. Process based DGVMs (Dynamic global vegetation models) are our best tool to simulate vegetation patterns, make predictions for future changes and test theory, however, many DGVMs fail to accurately simulate the spatial distribution or indeed presence of the South American savanna biome which can result in large differences in modelled ecosystem structural properties. Evidence suggests fire plays a significant role in mediating these forest and savanna biome boundaries, however, fire alone does not appear to be sufficient to predict these boundaries in South America using DGVMs hinting at the presence of one or more missing environmental factors. We hypothesise that soil depth, which affects plant available water by determining maximum storage potential and influences temporal availability, may be one of these missing environmental factors. To test our hypothesis we use a novel vegetation model, the aDGVM2. This model has been specifically designed to allow plant trait strategies, constrained by trade-offs between traits, evolve based on the abiotic and biotic conditions where the resulting community trait suites are emergent properties of model dynamics. Furthermore it considers root biomass in multiple soil layers and therefore allows the consideration of alternative rooting strategies, which in turn allows us to explore in more detail the role of soil hydraulic factors in controlling biome boundary distributions. We find that changes in soil depth, interacting with fire, affect the relative dominance of tree and grass strategies and thus the presence and spatial distribution of forest and savanna biomes in South America

  11. Emissions from savanna fires in southern Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sinha, Parikhit

    2004-12-01

    Airborne measurements are presented of emissions from savanna fires in southern Africa during the dry season. Measurements were obtained aboard the University of Washington Convair-580 research aircraft during the SAFARI 2000 field project in August and September 2000. Savanna fires in southern Africa emit a wide range of gaseous and particulate species including carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, halogen, and oxygenated compounds. Emission factors, emission ratios, and regional emissions of fifty trace gas and particulate species were derived, including eight species not previously reported in the literature (dimethyl sulfide, methyl nitrate, five species of hydrocarbons, and particles with diameters from 0.1--3 mum diameter). The physical, chemical, and radiative properties of the plume from a large savanna fire in South Africa are characterized, including plume dimensions, secondary formation of ozone and organic acids, oxidation of hydrocarbons, coagulation of particles, and gas-to-particle conversion in aged smoke. Numerous fires, thermodynamically stable layers aloft, and large-scale anticylonic flow result in high concentrations of air pollution distributed throughout the lower troposphere over southern Africa during the dry season. Average regional concentrations of CO (261 +/- 81 ppbv), SO2 (2.5 +/- 1.6 ppbv), O3 (64 +/- 13 ppbv), black particulate carbon (2.3 +/- 1.9 mug m-3), organic particulate carbon (6.2 +/- 5.2 mug m-3), total particle mass (26.0 +/- 4.7 mug m-3) are comparable to those found in polluted urban environments. The GEOS-CHEM model of tropospheric chemistry is used to characterize the transport of biomass burning emissions from southern Africa to the neighboring Atlantic and Indian Oceans during the dry season (May--October) of 2000. A large quantity of biomass burning emissions from southern Africa is transported westward over the latitudes 0--20°S to the southern Atlantic Ocean (˜40 Tg CO from May--October), contributing to a pollution anomaly

  12. Nitrogen Uptake Preferences by Plants in Arid and Semiarid Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Macko, S.; Wang, L.; D'Odorico, P.

    2005-12-01

    In arid and semiarid ecosystems like African savannas, nutrient availability varies spatially and temporally and nutrients are considered to be a major limiting factor for growth in addition to water availability. Preference for different nitrogen forms presumably enhances the survivorship and fitness of plants since the relative abundances of nitrate and ammonium varies between drier and wetter areas. To test the hypothesis that species developing in dry areas will prefer nitrate whereas species growing in wet areas will prefer ammonium, a controlled experiment using a greenhouse was undertaken. Six native African grass species from different precipitation regimes were used in this study. Two species were from relatively wet areas (Pandamatenga, Botswana, precipitation = 698 mm/year), two were from relatively dry areas (Tshane, Botswana, precipitation = 232 mm/year) and other two were from intermediate environments (Ghanzi, Botswana, precipitation = 400 mm/year). The grass seeds were collected in the field during the dry season of 2004 and using germination pans, were grown in a greenhouse. When individuals were mature, they were transferred into plastic pots (one individual per pot) containing commercial sand. After one week period of adjustment, a 15N labeled fertilizer (NH4NO3) was applied. The total N applied as fertilizer was comparable to the mineralized field N based on a calculated rate for the top 15 cm of soil. A pair of individual plants was treated as an experimental unit. Each plant received the same amount of total N fertilizer, but one was 15NO3 labeled and another was 15NH4 labeled. Nutrient uptake preference was determined by the 15N difference between pairs. The preliminary results with three species shows that, the individuals from dry area ( Enneapogon cenchroides from Tshane) has significantly higher foliar 15N signatures in the 15NO3 labeling treatment (p = 0.0103) and no difference in root 15N signatures. Whereas individuals from the wet

  13. Behavioral adjustments of African herbivores to predation risk by lions: spatiotemporal variations influence habitat use.

    PubMed

    Valeix, M; Loveridge, A J; Chamaillé-Jammes, S; Davidson, Z; Murindagomo, F; Fritz, H; Macdonald, D W

    2009-01-01

    Predators may influence their prey populations not only through direct lethal effects, but also through indirect behavioral changes. Here, we combined spatiotemporal fine-scale data from GPS radio collars on lions with habitat use information on 11 African herbivores in Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) to test whether the risk of predation by lions influenced the distribution of herbivores in the landscape. Effects of long-term risk of predation (likelihood of lion presence calculated over four months) and short-term risk of predation (actual presence of lions in the vicinity in the preceding 24 hours) were contrasted. The long-term risk of predation by lions appeared to influence the distributions of all browsers across the landscape, but not of grazers. This result strongly suggests that browsers and grazers, which face different ecological constraints, are influenced at different spatial and temporal scales in the variation of the risk of predation by lions. The results also show that all herbivores tend to use more open habitats preferentially when lions are in their vicinity, probably an effective anti-predator behavior against such an ambush predator. Behaviorally induced effects of lions may therefore contribute significantly to structuring African herbivore communities, and hence possibly their effects on savanna ecosystems.

  14. A Tree-based Approach for Modelling Interception Loss From Evergreen Oak Mediterranean Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pereira, F. L.; Gash, J. H.; David, J. S.; David, T. S.; Monteiro, P. R.; Valente, F.

    2009-05-01

    In sparse forests, trees occur as widely spaced individuals rather than as a continuous forest canopy. Therefore, interception loss for this vegetation type can be more adequately modelled if the overall forest evaporation is derived by scaling up the evaporation from individual trees. Evaporation rate for a single tree can be estimated using a simple Dalton-type diffusion equation for water vapour as long as its surface temperature is known. From theory, this temperature is shown to be dependent upon the available energy and windspeed. However, surface temperature of a fully saturated tree crown, under rainy conditions, will approach the wet bulb temperature as the energy input to the tree reduces to zero. This was experimentally confirmed from measurements of the radiation balance and surface temperature of an isolated tree crown. Thus, evaporation of intercepted rainfall can be estimated using an equation which only requires knowledge of the air dry and wet bulb temperatures and of the bulk tree crown aerodynamic conductance. This was taken as the basis of a new approach for modelling interception loss from savanna-type woodland: first, the aforementioned equation was combined with the Gash's analytical model to estimate interception loss from isolated trees; second, interception loss was scaled up to the entire forest accounting for the canopy cover fraction. This modelling approach was tested using data from two Mediterranean savanna-type oak woodlands in southern Portugal. For both sites, simulated interception loss agreed well with the observations indicating the adequacy of this new methodology for modelling interception loss by isolated trees in savanna-type ecosystems. Furthermore, the proposed approach is physically based and only requires a limited amount of data.

  15. Nitrogen trace gas fluxes from a semiarid subtropical savanna under woody legume encroachment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Soper, Fiona M.; Boutton, Thomas W.; Groffman, Peter M.; Sparks, Jed P.

    2016-05-01

    Savanna ecosystems are a major source of nitrogen (N) trace gases that influence air quality and climate. These systems are experiencing widespread encroachment by woody plants, frequently associated with large increases in soil N, with no consensus on implications for trace gas emissions. We investigated the impact of encroachment by N-fixing tree Prosopis glandulosa on total reactive N gas flux (Nt = NO + N2O + NOy + NH3) from south Texas savanna soils over 2 years. Contrary to expectations, upland Prosopis groves did not have greater Nt fluxes than adjacent unencroached grasslands. However, abiotic conditions (temperature, rainfall, and topography) were strong drivers. Emissions from moist, low-lying Prosopis playas were up to 3 times higher than from Prosopis uplands. Though NO dominated emissions, NH3 and NOy (non-NO oxidized N) comprised 12-16% of the total summer N flux (up to 7.9 µg N m-2 h-1). Flux responses to soil wetting were temperature dependent for NO, NH3, and NOy: a 15 mm rainfall event increased flux 3-fold to 22-fold after 24 h in summer but had no effect in winter. Repeated soil wetting reduced N flux responses, indicating substrate depletion as a likely control. Rapid (<1 min) increases in NO emissions following wetting of dry soils suggested that abiotic chemodenitrification contributes to pulse emissions. We conclude that temperature and wetting dynamics, rather than encroachment, are primary drivers of N flux from these upland savannas, with implications for future emission patterns under altered precipitation regimes.

  16. Use of habitat resources by scarab dung beetles in an savanna.

    PubMed

    Carpaneto, Giuseppe Maria; Mazziotta, Adriano; Ieradi, Michele

    2010-12-01

    In the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, we compared the scarab beetle assemblages in the dung of three wild ungulates (African buffalo, a ruminant foregut fermenter; hippopotamus, nonruminant foregut fermenter; and warthog, nonruminant hindgut fermenter). Dung was collected from two sandy-clay soils with different percentage of coarse sand. We aimed at investigating habitat resource selection by dung beetle species within a savanna natural contest with abundant and diverse food availability. Analyses were performed to detect differences for dung beetle assemblages in abundance, diversity, functional groups. Species richness in the three dung types and in the two soil types was similar. However, warthog dung and sandy-rich soil appeared the preferred habitat resources, in terms of abundance and biomass, while hippopotamus dung hosted the lowest values for these parameters. The analysis of functional groups revealed that slow-burying tunnellers held the major role, both in terms of abundance and biomass, and were mainly found in warthog dung. PMID:22182540

  17. Importance of In Situ Data in Reducing Uncertainty when Quantifying the African Carbon Budget

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ardö, J.

    2015-12-01

    Scarcity of in situ measurements of greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes hamper calibration and validation of continental assessments of carbon budgets in Africa. It limits essential studies of ecosystem functioning and ecosystem processes. Wide reported ranges of estimated African net primary production (NPP) and gross primary production (GPP) is a function of the uncertainty originating from this scarcity of data. GPP estimates, based on vegetation models and remote sensing based models, range from ~17 to ~40 Pg C yr-1 and NPP estimates roughly range from ~7 to ~20 Pg C yr-1 for continental Africa. Differences in modeled carbon use efficiency (i.e. the NPP/GPP ratio) further enhance the uncertainty caused by low spatial resolution driver data sets when deriving NPP from GPP. Current substantial uncertainty in vegetation productivity estimates for Africa (both magnitudes and carbon use efficiency) may be reduced by increased abundance and availability of in situ collected field data including meteorology, radiation, spectral properties, GHG fluxes as well as long term ecological field experiments. Current measurements of GHGs fluxes in Africa are sparse and not well coordinated. The European Fluxes Database Cluster includes ~24 sites with flux data, most of them with a small amount of data in short time series. Large biomes such as the evergreen broad leafed forest are no well represented whereas savannas are slightly better represented. USA for example, with 171 flux site listed in FLUXNET has a flux site density of 17 sites per million km2, whereas Africa has density of 0.8 sites per million km2. Increased collection of data on fluxes of GHGs, ecosystem properties and processes, both through advanced micro meteorological and through cost effective straightforward field experiments can contribute to reduce the uncertainty in quantification of the African carbon budget. Adaptation of crucial resource production systems such as agriculture, pastoralism and forestry, to

  18. Growing season ecosystem and leaf-level gas exchange of an exotic and native semiarid bunchgrass.

    PubMed

    Hamerlynck, Erik P; Scott, Russell L; Moran, M Susan; Keefer, Timothy O; Huxman, Travis E

    2010-07-01

    The South African grass, Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana), may alter ecosystem processes across extensive semiarid grasslands and savannahs of western North America. We compared volumetric soil moisture (theta), total and green tissue leaf area index (LAI), ecosystem (i.e. whole-plant and soil), and leaf-level gas exchange of Lehmann lovegrass and the native bush muhly (Muhlenbergia porteri) over the 2008 monsoon season in a semiarid savanna in southern Arizona, USA, to see if these were consistent with high productivity associated with lovegrass invasive success. theta across 0-5 and 0-25 cm was higher while evapotranspiration (ET) was similar between lovegrass and bush muhly plots, except shortly after rainfall, when ET was 32-81% higher in lovegrass plots. Lehmann lovegrass had lower, quickly developing LAI with greater leaf proportions than bush muhly. When early season theta was high, net ecosystem CO(2) exchange (NEE) was similar, but as storm frequency and theta declined, NEE was more negative in lovegrass (-0.69 to -3.00 micromol m(-2) s(-1)) than bush muhly (+1.75 to -1.55 micromol m(-2) s(-1)). Ecosystem respiration (R (eco)) responded quickly to monsoon onset and late-season rains, and was lower in lovegrass (2.44-3.74 micromol m(-2) s(-1)) than bush muhly (3.60-5.3 micromol m(-2) s(-1)) across the season. Gross ecosystem photosynthesis (GEP) was greater in Lehmann lovegrass, concurrent with higher leaf-level photosynthesis and stomatal conductance. We conclude that canopy structure facilitates higher theta under Lehmann lovegrass, reducing phenological constraints and stomatal limitations to whole-plant carbon uptake through the short summer monsoon growing season.

  19. Reconciling Agricultural Needs with Biodiversity and Carbon Conservation in a Savanna Transformation Frontier

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Spiegel, M. P.; Estes, L. D.; Caylor, K. K.; Searchinger, T.

    2015-12-01

    Zambia is a major hotspot for agricultural development in the African savannas, which will be targeted for agricultural expansion to relieve food shortages and economic insecurity in the next few decades. Recent scholarship rejects the assumption that the large reserves of arable land in the African savannas could be converted to cropland with low ecological costs. In light of these findings, the selection of land for agricultural expansion must consider not only its potential productivity, but also the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss that would result from the land conversion. To examine these tradeoffs, we have developed a multi-objective optimization technique to seek scenarios for agricultural development in Zambia that simultaneously achieve production targets and minimize carbon, biodiversity, and economic cost constraints, while factoring in the inter-annual variability in crop production in this highly uncertain climate. Potential production is determined from well-characterized yield potential estimates while robust metrics of biodiversity and high resolution mapping of carbon storage provide fine scale estimates of ecological impact. We draw production targets for individual crops from potential development pathways, primarily export, commodity-crop driven expansion and identify ecologically responsible agricultural development scenarios that are resilient to climate change and meet these demands. In order to achieve a doubling of production of nine key crops, assuming a modest 20% overall increase in yield potential, we find a range of scenarios that use less than 1600 km2 of new land without infringing on any protected areas or exceeding 6.7 million tons of carbon emissions.

  20. Shifts in Functional Traits Elevate Risk of Fire-driven Tree Dieback in Tropical Savanna-forest Biomes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pellegrini, A.; Franco, A. C.; Hoffmann, W. A.

    2015-12-01

    Rising CO2 is predicted to accelerate the expansion of forests into savannas. Although encroaching forests can sequester carbon over the short-term, the carbon pools may become increasingly sensitive to fire due to a shift towards plant communities more susceptible to fire-driven dieback. We quantify how functional traits determine the ability of individual tree species to tolerate fire and subsequently determine the fire-sensitivity of ecosystem carbon across 180 plots throughout the 2.2-million km2 Cerrado region in Brazil. We find that accounting for variation in functional traits fundamentally changes fire-driven dieback predictions: savannas and forests switched from having similar amounts of potential carbon losses to forests containing substantially greater potential carbon losses when differences in functional traits were considered. In fact, we find that not accounting for variation in functional traits underestimated carbon losses in forests by ~50%, summing to an underestimation of 0.22PgC across the Cerrado region. In total, shifts in the fire sensitivity of forests due to changes in community composition and functional traits may offset a third of carbon gains during forest encroachment. These results illustrate that functional traits are critical for determining the climate-carbon-fire feedback in tropical savanna-forest biomes.

  1. Shifts in functional traits elevate risk of fire-driven tree dieback in tropical savanna and forest biomes.

    PubMed

    Pellegrini, Adam F A; Franco, Augusto C; Hoffmann, William A

    2016-03-01

    Numerous predictions indicate rising CO2 will accelerate the expansion of forests into savannas. Although encroaching forests can sequester carbon over the short term, increased fires and drought-fire interactions could offset carbon gains, which may be amplified by the shift toward forest plant communities more susceptible to fire-driven dieback. We quantify how bark thickness determines the ability of individual tree species to tolerate fire and subsequently determine the fire sensitivity of ecosystem carbon across 180 plots in savannas and forests throughout the 2.2-million km(2) Cerrado region in Brazil. We find that not accounting for variation in bark thickness across tree species underestimated carbon losses in forests by ~50%, totaling 0.22 PgC across the Cerrado region. The lower bark thicknesses of plant species in forests decreased fire tolerance to such an extent that a third of carbon gains during forest encroachment may be at risk of dieback if burned. These results illustrate that consideration of trait-based differences in fire tolerance is critical for determining the climate-carbon-fire feedback in tropical savanna and forest biomes.

  2. Carbon Dioxide and Water Cycling in a Semiarid Savanna in Southern Arizona, USA

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Scott, R. L.; Hultine, K.; Barron-Gafford, G.; Huxman, T.

    2007-12-01

    The consequences of recent woody plant encroachment on the carbon and water cycling of semiarid ecosystems are not well understood. In this presentation, we present measurements made from 2004 - 2006 using sap flow and eddy covariance techniques to examine the carbon dioxide and water fluxes that occurred over a semiarid savanna on the Santa Rita Experimental Range in southern Arizona, USA. Over the last one hundred years this site has been transformed from a desert grassland to a savanna with greater than 35% tree cover by the encroachment of the native woody plant, mesquite ( Prosopis velutina). We have found that mesquite, even when they were dormant above ground, readily redistributed water upwards and downwards in the soil profile via their roots. This redistribution had important ecohydrological consequences like extending the season over which photosynthesis occurred. During the study period the site experienced below normal precipitation especially during the winter and spring period, and the site each year appeared to be a net carbon source. The two decades that preceded our study had above average precipitation, and this possibly resulted in a great deal of carbon accumulation that is now being released due to the current drought that has truncated the growing season.

  3. Predicting Stand-Level Fire Behavior From Forest Community Data in Former Prairie and Savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yospin, G. I.; Bridgham, S. D.; Kertis, J.; Johnson, B. R.

    2009-05-01

    As development pressures continue to expand the extent of the wildland-urban interface (WUI), the ability to predict fire regimes there becomes increasingly important. Such predictions will be particularly valuable to land managers who seek to reduce wildfire risk and to restore imperiled ecosystems within the WUI. Our study focused on remnant and former upland prairie and oak savanna ecosystems in the southern Willamette Valley, Oregon, which were widespread prior to Euro-American settlement but now occupy less than 2% of their historic range. Prairie and savanna grasslands provide habitat for several endangered species, as well as important ecosystem services, such as the regulation of fire regimes. We sampled over 250 plots from seven sites that were grasslands with few to no trees circa 1850 but now have markedly different communities, ranging from prairie to dense forest. We collected data on community composition, topography and fuel loadings. With the BehavePlus fire model, we calculated surface and crown fire parameters. We built two classification and regression trees (CARTs) that used plant community data to group plots on the basis of their surface-fire and crown-fire behavior, respectively. Fuel loads differed significantly by community type, although trends in fuel loadings were neither monotonic across communities nor intuitive. Fuel characteristics were extremely sensitive to topography, and may result from successional history and the presence of exotic invasive species. Though the CARTs were statistically significant, they generally had poor predictive power, which is indicative of the amount of variability inherent in wildland fire. There was greater variability in fire behavior for more intense fires, indicating that land managers can improve the precision of their predictions by managing for less intense fire regimes. The CARTs suggested that surface fires differed among nine different community types and crown fire behavior differed among five

  4. Fire drives functional thresholds on the savanna-forest transition.

    PubMed

    Dantas, Vinícius de L; Batalha, Marco A; Pausas, Juli G

    2013-11-01

    In tropical landscapes, vegetation patches with contrasting tree densities are distributed as mosaics. However, the locations of patches and densities of trees within them cannot be predicted by climate models alone. It has been proposed that plant-fire feedbacks drive functional thresholds at a landscape scale, thereby maintaining open (savanna) and closed (forest) communities as two distinct stable states. However, there is little rigorous field evidence for this threshold model. Here we aim to provide support for such a model from a field perspective and to analyze the functional and phylogenetic consequences of fire in a Brazilian savanna landscape (Cerrado). We hypothesize that, in tropical landscapes, savanna and forest are two stable states maintained by plant-fire feedbacks. If so, their functional and diversity attributes should change abruptly along a community closure gradient. We set 98 plots along a gradient from open savanna to closed forest in the Brazilian Cerrado and tested for a threshold pattern in nine functional traits, five soil features, and seven diversity indicators. We then tested whether the threshold pattern was associated with different fire regimes. Most community attributes presented a threshold pattern on the savanna-forest transition with coinciding breakpoints. The thresholds separated two community states: (1) open environments with low-diversity communities growing in poor soils and dominated by plants that are highly resistant to high-intensity fires; and (2) closed environments with highly diverse plant communities growing in more fertile soils and dominated by shade-tolerant species that efficiently prevent light from reaching the understory. In addition, each state was associated with contrasting fire regimes. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that forests and savannas are two coexisting stable states with contrasting patterns of function and diversity that are regulated by fire-plant feedbacks; our results also

  5. Aerosol emissions by tropical forest and savanna biomass burning: Characteristic trace elements and fluxes

    SciTech Connect

    Echalar, F.; Gaudichet, A.; Cachier, H.

    1995-11-15

    This report characterizes and compares trace element emissions from fires of three different types of savannas and from the southwestern amazonian rain forest. This study tries to verify a fingerprint that may characterize savanna fires or tropical biomass burning.

  6. Environmental changes during the last millennium based on multi-proxy palaeoecological records in a savanna-forest mosaic from the northernmost Brazilian Amazon region.

    PubMed

    Meneses, Maria Ecilene N S; Costa, Marcondes L; Enters, Dirk; Behling, Hermann

    2015-09-01

    The environmental changes and the dynamics of the savanna-forest mosaic, over the last 1050 years, have been reconstructed by pollen, charcoal, radiocarbon dating mineralogical and geochemical analyses of sediment cores taken from three different Mauritia flexuosapalm swamps in the northernmost part of the Brazilian Amazon region (northern state of Roraima). Studies on the relationship between the modern pollen rain and the regional vegetation provide additional information for the interpretation of the fossil pollen records. The fossil pollen assemblages and geochemical results indicate relatively wet climatic conditions throughout the recorded period. Despite these moist conditions, fires were frequent and are one of the reasons for the dominance of a grassy savanna instead of forest expansion in the study area. Considering the generally wet climatic conditions, these fires were most likely caused by human activities. Even today, fires hinder forest expansion into savanna areas. Sandy hydromorphic soils may also act as an edaphic control to maintain the current sharp boundary between forest and savanna ecosystems.

  7. Temperature climatology as a determinant of tropical savanna vegetation distribution in the cerrado biome

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Powell, R. L.; Toomey, M. P.; Still, C. J.

    2011-12-01

    One of the defining characteristics of savanna ecosystems is the coexistence of woody and herbaceous vegetation. While the relative abundance of these components strongly influences a number of ecosystem functional properties, including carbon and water cycling, land-cover maps rarely depict the tree:grass composition of savanna classes. As a fundamental component of climate, temperature has long been recognized to strongly influence vegetation distribution on continental scales. Here, we investigate the degree to which savanna vegetation classes in the cerrado biome of Brazil can be sorted using temperature climatologies. The definition and spatial boundaries of each savanna vegetation class were taken from the Cerrado Remnant Vegetation Map of the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment Biodiversity Program, PROBIO Project. Land-cover classes were grouped into five broad categories representing a range of woody through herbaceous vegetation cover: forestlands, shrublands, grasslands, cultivated pasture, and croplands; these vegetation polygons served as the unit of analysis. Temperature climatologies were derived from nearly ten years of daily Terra/Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature (LST), as well as from two climate surface datasets based on interpolated air temperature station data (1961-1990) at two spatial resolutions: the Climatic Research Unit mean monthly terrestrial climatology (half-degree) and WorldClim (30 arc-seconds). Additionally, we investigate the relationships between these temperature climatologies, the relative composition of herbaceous and woody vegetation cover as represented by the MODIS Vegetation Continuous Fields (VCF) product, and MODIS-derived mean annual net primary productivity (2000-2006). Based on pair-wise comparison of means (t-tests), the variables that were most successful at distinguishing between vegetation classes were mean annual nighttime temperatures, particularly Terra nighttime LST (collected at approximately 21:30 local

  8. Development of edge effects around experimental ecosystem hotspots is affected by edge density and matrix type

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Ecological edge effects are sensitive to landscape context. In particular, edge effects can be altered by matrix type and by the presence of other nearby edges. We experimentally altered patch configurations in an African savanna to determine how edge density and matrix type influence edge effect de...

  9. Comparative Intradermal Tuberculin Testing of Free-Ranging African Buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) Captured for Ex Situ Conservation in the Kafue Basin Ecosystem in Zambia.

    PubMed

    Munang'andu, Hetron Mweemba; Siamudaala, Victor; Matandiko, Wigganson; Nambota, Andrew; Muma, John Bwalya; Mweene, Aaron Simanyengwe; Munyeme, Musso

    2011-01-01

    Bovine tuberculosis (BTB) is endemic in African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) in some National Parks in Southern Africa, whilst no studies have been conducted on BTB on buffalo populations in Zambia. The increased demand for ecotourism and conservation of the African buffalo on private owned game ranches has prompted the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) and private sector in Zambia to generate a herd of "BTB-free buffaloes" for ex situ conservation. In the present study, 86 African buffaloes from four different herds comprising a total of 530 animals were investigated for the presence of BTB for the purpose of generating "BTB free" buffalo for ex-situ conservation. Using the comparative intradermal tuberculin test (CIDT) the BTB status at both individual animal and herd level was estimated to be 0.0% by the CIDT technique. Compared to Avian reactors only, a prevalence of 5.8% was determined whilst for Bovine-only reactors a prevalence of 0.0% was determined. These results suggest the likelihood of buffalo herds in the Kafue National Park being free of BTB.

  10. Reconstruction of the Dynamics of Mammoth Tundra-Steppe Ecosystem Productivity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zimov, S. A.; Chapin, F. S.

    2001-12-01

    During periods of glaciation, the mammoth tundra-steppe (MTS) ecosystem was the largest biome.The productivity of this ecosystem is under discussion. During the Pleistocene, a thick layer of frozen loess accumulated on the lowlands of northern Siberia. As loess deposited on the surface, the bottom of the soil profile was incorporated into permafrost. Present-day frozen loess soils of Siberia are cryo-preserved soils of the MTS. These soils have little humus but contain large quantities of grass roots and live Pleistocene microorganisms. As the soil melts, they start to respire actively. Analysis of vertical distribution of respiration in different types of modern soil and permafrost showed that respiration potential of cryo-preserved soil is similar to respiration of low soil horizons. On the basis of the correlation of photosynthesis to respiration, we calculated productivity of the MTS ecosystem and reconstructed its dynamics. Dynamics of MTS productivity was evaluated through the dynamics of the relative quantities of herbivorous animals. We analyzed the distribution of about 600 14C dates of mammoths, bison, and rhinoceroses. An estimate of the absolute density of mammoths in the north of Siberia was calculated on the basis of data collected on the density of skeletons buried in the permafrost. Our investigations showed that vegetation productivity and density of herbivorous animals in the MTS ecosystem varied within a wide range depending on climate. Dynamics of these parameters correlate with data of temperature and atmospheric CH4 obtained from Greenland cores. During periods of climate warming the quantity of mammoths in the north of Siberia was comparable to the quantity of elephants in present-day undisturbed African savanna.

  11. Episodic nitrous oxide soil emissions in Brazilian savanna (cerrado) fire-scars. Final technical report

    SciTech Connect

    Nobre, A.D.; Crill, P.M.; Harriss, R.C.

    1994-08-01

    The seasonally burned cerrados of Brazil are the largest savanna-type ecosystem of South America and their contribution to the global atmospheric nitrous oxide (N2O) budget is unknown. Four types of fire-scarred cerrado along a vegetation gradient from grassland to forest were investigated during the wet season of 1992/93. The effect of fire and subsequent water additions on epiodic emissions of N2O and the associated profile dynamic of soil/gas phase N2O concentrations were studied for several months. Additionally, the effect on episodic emissions of N2O of nitrate and glucose additions to a cerrado soil after fire and the associated profile dynamic of soil/gas phase N2O mixing ratios were determined. Finally, N2O episodic emissions in cerrado converted to corn, soybean, and pasture fields were investigated during one growing/wet season. Results showed N2O consumption/emission for the four fire-scared savanna ecosystems, for nitrogen and carbon fertilization, and for agriculture/pasture ranging from -0.3 to +0.7, 1.8 to 9.1, and 0.5 to 3.7 g N2O-N ha(exp -1) d(exp -1), respectively. During the wet season the cerrado biome does not appear to be a major source of N2O to the troposphere, even following fire events. However, the results of this study suggest that conversion of the cerrado to high input agriculture, with liming and fertilization, can increase N2O emissions more than ten fold.

  12. Episodic nitrous oxide soil emissions in Brazilian savanna (cerrado) fire-scars

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Nobre, A. D.; Crill, P. M.; Harriss, R. C.

    1994-01-01

    The seasonally burned cerrados of Brazil are the largest savanna-type ecosystem of South America and their contribution to the global atmospheric nitrous oxide (N20) budget is unknown. Four types of fire-scarred cerrado along a vegetation gradient from grassland to forest were investigated during the wet season of 1992/93. The effect of fire and subsequent water additions on epiodic emissions of N2O and the associated profile dynamic of soil/gas phase N2O concentrations were studied for several months. Additionally, the effect on episodic emissions of N2O of nitrate and glucose additions to a cerrado soil after fire and the associated profile dynamic of soil/gas phase N2O mixing ratios were determined. Finally, N2O episodic emissions in cerrado converted to corn, soybean, and pasture fields were investigated during one growing/wet season. Results showed N2O consumption/emission for the four fire-scared savanna ecosystems, for nitrogen and carbon fertilization, and for agriculture/pasture ranging from -0.3 to +0.7, 1.8 to 9.1, and 0.5 to 3.7 g N2O-N ha(exp -1) d(exp -1), respectively. During the wet season the cerrado biome does not appear to be a major source of N2O to the troposphere, even following fire events. However, the results of this study suggest that conversion of the cerrado to high input agriculture, with liming and fertilization, can increase N2O emissions more than ten fold.

  13. Herbivory and drought interact to enhance spatial patterning and diversity in a savanna understory.

    PubMed

    Porensky, Lauren M; Wittman, Sarah E; Riginos, Corinna; Young, Truman P

    2013-10-01

    The combination of abiotic stress and consumer stress can have complex impacts on plant community structure. Effective conservation and management of semi-arid ecosystems requires an understanding of how different stresses interact to structure plant communities. We explored the separate and combined impacts of episodic drought, livestock grazing, and wild ungulate herbivory on species co-occurrence and diversity patterns in a relatively productive, semi-arid Acacia savanna. Specifically, we analyzed 9 years of biannual plant community data from the Kenya long-term exclosure experiment, a broad-scale manipulative experiment that has excluded different combinations of large mammalian herbivores from 18 4-ha plots since 1995. During droughts, we observed low species diversity and random species co-occurrence patterns. However, when rain followed a major drought, areas exposed to moderate cattle grazing displayed high species diversity and evidence of significant species aggregation. These patterns were not apparent in the absence of cattle, even if other large herbivores were present. To explore possible mechanisms, we examined patterns separately for common and rare species. We found that aggregation patterns were likely driven by rare species responding similarly to the availability of open micro-sites. Our results indicate that in a productive, fire-suppressed savanna, the combination of periodic drought and moderate cattle grazing can enhance plant biodiversity and fine-scale spatial heterogeneity by opening up space for species that are otherwise rare or cryptic. Our findings also emphasize that domestic herbivores can have significantly stronger impacts on plant community dynamics than wild herbivores, even in an ecosystem with a long history of grazing.

  14. Harvesting tree biomass at the stand level to assess the accuracy of field and airborne biomass estimation in savannas.

    PubMed

    Colgan, Matthew S; Asner, Gregory P; Swemmer, Tony

    2013-07-01

    Tree biomass is an integrated measure of net growth and is critical for understanding, monitoring, and modeling ecosystem functions. Despite the importance of accurately measuring tree biomass, several fundamental barriers preclude direct measurement at large spatial scales, including the facts that trees must be felled to be weighed and that even modestly sized trees are challenging to maneuver once felled. Allometric methods allow for estimation of tree mass using structural characteristics, such as trunk diameter. Savanna trees present additional challenges, including limited available allometry and a prevalence of multiple stems per individual. Here we collected airborne lidar data over a semiarid savanna adjacent to the Kruger National Park, South Africa, and then harvested and weighed woody plant biomass at the plot scale to provide a standard against which field and airborne estimation methods could be compared. For an existing airborne lidar method, we found that half of the total error was due to averaging canopy height at the plot scale. This error was eliminated by instead measuring maximum height and crown area of individual trees from lidar data using an object-based method to identify individual tree crowns and estimate their biomass. The best object-based model approached the accuracy of field allometry at both the tree and plot levels, and it more than doubled the accuracy compared to existing airborne methods (17% vs. 44% deviation from harvested biomass). Allometric error accounted for less than one-third of the total residual error in airborne biomass estimates at the plot scale when using allometry with low bias. Airborne methods also gave more accurate predictions at the plot level than did field methods based on diameter-only allometry. These results provide a novel comparison of field and airborne biomass estimates using harvested plots and advance the role of lidar remote sensing in savanna ecosystems.

  15. Short-Term Effect of Nutrient Availability and Rainfall Distribution on Biomass Production and Leaf Nutrient Content of Savanna Tree Species

    PubMed Central

    Barbosa, Eduardo R. M.; Tomlinson, Kyle W.; Carvalheiro, Luísa G.; Kirkman, Kevin; de Bie, Steven; Prins, Herbert H. T.; van Langevelde, Frank

    2014-01-01

    Changes in land use may lead to increased soil nutrient levels in many ecosystems (e.g. due to intensification of agricultural fertilizer use). Plant species differ widely in their response to differences in soil nutrients, and for savannas it is uncertain how this nutrient enrichment will affect plant community dynamics. We set up a large controlled short-term experiment in a semi-arid savanna to test how water supply (even water supply vs. natural rainfall) and nutrient availability (no fertilisation vs. fertilisation) affects seedlings’ above-ground biomass production and leaf-nutrient concentrations (N, P and K) of broad-leafed and fine-leafed tree species. Contrary to expectations, neither changes in water supply nor changes in soil nutrient level affected biomass production of the studied species. By contrast, leaf-nutrient concentration did change significantly. Under regular water supply, soil nutrient addition increased the leaf phosphorus concentration of both fine-leafed and broad-leafed species. However, under uneven water supply, leaf nitrogen and phosphorus concentration declined with soil nutrient supply, this effect being more accentuated in broad-leafed species. Leaf potassium concentration of broad-leafed species was lower when growing under constant water supply, especially when no NPK fertilizer was applied. We found that changes in environmental factors can affect leaf quality, indicating a potential interactive effect between land-use changes and environmental changes on savanna vegetation: under more uneven rainfall patterns within the growing season, leaf quality of tree seedlings for a number of species can change as a response to changes in nutrient levels, even if overall plant biomass does not change. Such changes might affect herbivore pressure on trees and thus savanna plant community dynamics. Although longer term experiments would be essential to test such potential effects of eutrophication via changes in leaf nutrient

  16. Short-term effect of nutrient availability and rainfall distribution on biomass production and leaf nutrient content of savanna tree species.

    PubMed

    Barbosa, Eduardo R M; Tomlinson, Kyle W; Carvalheiro, Luísa G; Kirkman, Kevin; de Bie, Steven; Prins, Herbert H T; van Langevelde, Frank

    2014-01-01

    Changes in land use may lead to increased soil nutrient levels in many ecosystems (e.g. due to intensification of agricultural fertilizer use). Plant species differ widely in their response to differences in soil nutrients, and for savannas it is uncertain how this nutrient enrichment will affect plant community dynamics. We set up a large controlled short-term experiment in a semi-arid savanna to test how water supply (even water supply vs. natural rainfall) and nutrient availability (no fertilisation vs. fertilisation) affects seedlings' above-ground biomass production and leaf-nutrient concentrations (N, P and K) of broad-leafed and fine-leafed tree species. Contrary to expectations, neither changes in water supply nor changes in soil nutrient level affected biomass production of the studied species. By contrast, leaf-nutrient concentration did change significantly. Under regular water supply, soil nutrient addition increased the leaf phosphorus concentration of both fine-leafed and broad-leafed species. However, under uneven water supply, leaf nitrogen and phosphorus concentration declined with soil nutrient supply, this effect being more accentuated in broad-leafed species. Leaf potassium concentration of broad-leafed species was lower when growing under constant water supply, especially when no NPK fertilizer was applied. We found that changes in environmental factors can affect leaf quality, indicating a potential interactive effect between land-use changes and environmental changes on savanna vegetation: under more uneven rainfall patterns within the growing season, leaf quality of tree seedlings for a number of species can change as a response to changes in nutrient levels, even if overall plant biomass does not change. Such changes might affect herbivore pressure on trees and thus savanna plant community dynamics. Although longer term experiments would be essential to test such potential effects of eutrophication via changes in leaf nutrient concentration

  17. Mediterranean savanna system: understanding and modeling of olive orchard.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brilli, Lorenzo; Moriondo, Marco; Bindi, Marco

    2013-04-01

    Nowadays most of the studies on C and N exchange were focused on forest ecosystems and crop systems, while only few studies have been focused on so called "savanna systems". They are long-term agro-ecosystems (fruit trees, grapevines and olive trees, etc.) usually characterized by two different layers (ground vegetation and trees). Generally, there is a lack of knowledge about these systems due to their intrinsic structural complexity (different eco-physiological characteristics so as agricultural practices). However, given their long-term carbon storage capacity, these systems can play a fundamental role in terms of global C cycle. Among all of them, the role that olive trees can play in C sequestration should not be neglected, especially in Mediterranean areas where they typify the rural landscape and are widely cultivated (Loumou and Giourga, 2003). It is therefore fundamental modelling the C-fluxes exchanges coming from these systems through a tool able to well reproduce these dynamics in one of the most exposed areas to the risk of climate change (IPCC, 2007). In this work, 2 years of Net CO2 Ecosystem Exchange (NEE) measures from eddy covariance were used to test the biogeochemistry model DayCent. The study was conducted in a rain-fed olive orchard situated in Follonica, South Tuscany, Italy (42 ° 55'N, 10 ° 45'E), in an agricultural area near the coast. The instrumentation for flux measurement was placed 1.9 m above the canopy top (6.5 m from the ground) so that the footprint area, expressed as the area containing 90% of the observed flux, was almost entirely contained within the olive orchard limits (Brilli et al., in press). Ancillary slow sensors have included soil temperature profiles, global radiation, air temperature and humidity, rain gauge. Fluxes of sensible heat, latent heat, momentum and CO2 as well as ancillary data were derived at half-hourly time resolution. Specific soil (texture, current and historical land use and vegetation cover) and

  18. The initial phase of a Longleaf Pine-Wiregrass Savanna restoration: species establishment and community responses.

    SciTech Connect

    Aschenbach, Todd, A; Foster, Bryan, L.; Imm, Donald, W.

    2010-09-01

    AbstractAbstract The significant loss of the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem in the southeastern United States has serious implications for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. In response to this loss, we have initiated a long-term and landscape-scale restoration experiment at the 80,125 ha (310 mi2) Department of Energy Savannah River Site (SRS) located near Aiken, South Carolina. Aristida beyrichiana (wiregrass), an important and dominant grass (i.e., a “matrix” species) of the longleaf pine savanna understory, and 31 other herbaceous “non-matrix” species were planted at six locations throughout SRS in 2002 and 2003. Of the 36,056 transplanted seedlings, 75% were still alive in June 2004, while mean 1–2 year survival across all planted species was 48%. Lespedeza hirta (hairy lespedeza) exhibited the greatest overall survival per 3 ×3 m cell at 95%, whereas Schizachyrium spp. (little bluestem) exhibited the greatest mean cover among individual species at 5.9%. Wiregrass survival and cover were significantly reduced when planted with non-matrix species. Aggregate cover of all planted species in restored cells averaged 25.9% in 2006. High rates of survival and growth of the planted species resulted in greater species richness (SR), diversity, and vegetative cover in restored cells. Results suggest that the loss of the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem may be ameliorated through restoration efforts and illustrate the positive impact of restoration plantings on biodiversity and vegetative cover.

  19. A grass–fire cycle eliminates an obligate-seeding tree in a tropical savanna

    PubMed Central

    Bowman, David M J S; MacDermott, Harry J; Nichols, Scott C; Murphy, Brett P

    2014-01-01

    A grass–fire cycle in Australian tropical savannas has been postulated as driving the regional decline of the obligate-seeding conifer Callitris intratropica and other fire-sensitive components of the regional flora and fauna, due to proliferation of flammable native grasses. We tested the hypothesis that a high-biomass invasive savanna grass drives a positive feedback process where intense fires destroy fire-sensitive trees, and the reduction in canopy cover facilitates further invasion by grass. We undertook an observational and experimental study using, as a model system, a plantation of C. intratropica that has been invaded by an African grass, gamba (Andropogon gayanus) in the Northern Territory, Australia. We found that high grass biomass was associated with reduced canopy cover and restriction of foliage to the upper canopy of surviving stems, and mortality of adult trees was very high (>50%) even in areas with low fuel loads (1 t·ha−1). Experimental fires, with fuel loads >10 t·ha−1, typical of the grass-invasion front, caused significant mortality due to complete crown scorch. Lower fuel loads cause reduced canopy cover through defoliation of the lower canopy. These results help explain how increases in grass biomass are coupled with the decline of C. intratropica throughout northern Australia by causing a switch from litter and sparse perennial grass fuels, and hence low-intensity surface fires, to heavy annual grass fuel loads that sustain fires that burn into the midstorey. This study demonstrates that changes in fuel type can alter fire regimes with substantial knock-on effects on the biota. PMID:25505543

  20. A grass-fire cycle eliminates an obligate-seeding tree in a tropical savanna.

    PubMed

    Bowman, David M J S; MacDermott, Harry J; Nichols, Scott C; Murphy, Brett P

    2014-11-01

    A grass-fire cycle in Australian tropical savannas has been postulated as driving the regional decline of the obligate-seeding conifer Callitris intratropica and other fire-sensitive components of the regional flora and fauna, due to proliferation of flammable native grasses. We tested the hypothesis that a high-biomass invasive savanna grass drives a positive feedback process where intense fires destroy fire-sensitive trees, and the reduction in canopy cover facilitates further invasion by grass. We undertook an observational and experimental study using, as a model system, a plantation of C. intratropica that has been invaded by an African grass, gamba (Andropogon gayanus) in the Northern Territory, Australia. We found that high grass biomass was associated with reduced canopy cover and restriction of foliage to the upper canopy of surviving stems, and mortality of adult trees was very high (>50%) even in areas with low fuel loads (1 t·ha(-1)). Experimental fires, with fuel loads >10 t·ha(-1), typical of the grass-invasion front, caused significant mortality due to complete crown scorch. Lower fuel loads cause reduced canopy cover through defoliation of the lower canopy. These results help explain how increases in grass biomass are coupled with the decline of C. intratropica throughout northern Australia by causing a switch from litter and sparse perennial grass fuels, and hence low-intensity surface fires, to heavy annual grass fuel loads that sustain fires that burn into the midstorey. This study demonstrates that changes in fuel type can alter fire regimes with substantial knock-on effects on the biota. PMID:25505543

  1. What Controls the Extent of Tropical Forest? An 8-year Experiment to Understand the Response of Savanna-Forest Boundaries to Climate, Soils, and Fire in Central Brazil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hoffmann, W.; Franco, A. C.; Haridasan, M.; Geiger, E.; Gotsch, S. G.

    2015-12-01

    Tropical savanna-forest boundaries are considered to be sensitive indicators of climate change, but direct tests of this are lacking, which limits our ability to predict the future of these two biomes. We used an ecosystem experiment at a savanna-forest boundary to compare the importance of seasonal drought and soil nutrients for limiting forest expansion. We set up twelve 70m x 10 plots, each extending across the biome boundary. Water and nutrient treatments were randomly assigned to these plots in a factorial experiment. The water treatment consisted of a control (no added water) or irrigation (60 mm per week throughout the dry season to eliminate soil water deficit), and the nutrient treatment consisted of a control (no added nutrients or a complete NPK + micronutrients added twice per year to minimize nutrient deficits). After four years, the study site was burned, allowing us to examine interactions with the primary disturbance at savanna-forest boundaries. Tree growth and forest expansion were strongly limited by nutrients, but not water. Nutrient addition doubled rates of tree diameter growth over 4 years (2.4 mm/yr versus 1.1 mm/yr) growth, but irrigation had no detectable effect (1.9 mm/yr versus 1.7 mm/yr). Long-term fire suppression at the site had allowed forest tree species to establish in savanna, and these had more than a 3-fold greater growth rate than savanna species. The higher productivity of forest species was offset by greater biomass loss during fire, but within 3 years these losses were largely recovered. Nutrient limitation, combined with the slow growth of savanna tree species, greatly slows canopy closure in this environment, predisposing the savanna to remain in an open state under occasional burning. These results challenge the perception that rainfall is the primary factor limiting the natural distribution of tropical forest. Climate change is likely to cause a shift in the biome boundary only it is accompanied with a changing fire

  2. Termite mounds as hot spots of nitrous oxide emissions in South-Sudanian savanna of Burkina Faso (West Africa)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brümmer, Christian; Papen, Hans; Wassmann, Reiner; Brüggemann, Nicolas

    2009-05-01

    Despite a considerable knowledge of the significant role of termites in the global methane budget, very little is known about their contribution to the global nitrous oxide (N2O) budget. Release of N2O from termite (Cubitermes fungifaber) mounds was measured at a natural savanna site in the southwest of Burkina Faso from May to September 2006. Termite N2O emissions were around 20 μg N2O-N m-2 h-1 at the end of the dry season, and up to two orders of magnitude higher than N2O emissions from the surrounding termite-free soil after the onset of the rainy season. The average N2O emission rate from termite mounds during the observation period was 204 μg N2O-N m-2 h-1, and termite mounds contributed 3.0% to total N2O emissions from this savanna ecosystem. However, in other tropical terrestrial ecosystems with other termite species and/or higher termite density this share might be significantly higher.

  3. Disruption of a protective ant-plant mutualism by an invasive ant increases elephant damage to savanna trees.

    PubMed

    Riginos, Corinna; Karande, Megan A; Rubenstein, Daniel I; Palmer, Todd M

    2015-03-01

    Invasive species can indirectly affect ecosystem processes via the disruption of mutualisms. The mutualism between the whistling thorn acacia (Acacia drepanolobium) and four species of symbiotic ants is an ecologically important one; ants strongly defend trees against elephants, which can otherwise have dramatic impacts on tree cover. In Laikipia, Kenya, the invasive big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) has established itself at numerous locations within the last 10-15 years. In invaded areas on five properties, we found that three species of symbiotic Crematogaster ants were virtually extirpated, whereas Tetraponera penzigi co-occurred with P. megacephala. T. penzigi appears to persist because of its nonaggressive behavior; in a whole-tree translocation experiment, Crematogaster defended host trees against P. megacephala, but were extirpated from trees within hours. In contrast, T. penzigi retreated into domatia and withstood invading ants for >30 days. In the field, the loss of defensive Crematogaster ants in invaded areas led to a five- to sevenfold increase in the number of trees catastrophically damaged by elephants compared to uninvaded areas. In savannas, tree cover drives many ecosystem processes and provides essential forage for many large mammal species; thus, the invasion of big-headed ants may strongly alter the dynamics and diversity of East Africa's whistling thorn savannas by disrupting this system's keystone acaciaant mutualism. PMID:26236862

  4. Effects of Savanna trees on soil nutrient limitation and carbon-sequestration potential in dry season

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Becker, Joscha; Gütlein, Adrian; Sierra Cornejo, Natalia; Kiese, Ralf; Hertel, Dietrich; Kuzyakov, Yakov

    2016-04-01

    Semi-arid savannah ecosystems are under strong pressure from climate and land-use changes, especially around populous areas like Mt. Kilimanjaro region. Savannah vegetation consists of grassland with isolated trees and is therefore characterized by high spatial variation of canopy cover and aboveground biomass. Both are major regulators for soil ecological parameters and soil-atmospheric trace gas exchange (CO2, N2O, CH4), especially in water limited environments. The spatial distribution of these parameters and the connection between above and belowground processes are important to understand and predict ecosystem changes and estimate its vulnerability. Our objective was to determine spatial trends and changes of soil parameters and trace-gas fluxes and relate their variability to the vegetation structure. We chose three trees from each of the two most dominant species (Acacia nilotica and Balanites aegyptiaca). For each tree, we selected transects with total nine sampling points under and outside the crown. At each sampling point we measured soil and plant biomass carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) content, δ13C, microbial biomass C and N, soil respiration, available nutrients, pH, cation exchange capacity (CEC) as well as belowground biomass, soil temperature and soil water content. Contents and stocks of C and N fractions, Ca2+, K+ and total CEC decreased up to 50% outside the crown. This was unaffected by the tree species, tree size or other tree characteristics. Water content was below the permanent wilting point and independent from tree cover. In all cases tree litter inputs had far a closer C:N ratio than C4-grass litter. Microbial C:N ratio and CO2 efflux was about 30% higher in open area and strongly dependent on mineral N availability. This indicates N limitation and low microbial C use efficiency in soil under open area. We conclude that the spatial structure of aboveground biomass in savanna ecosystems leads to a spatial redistribution of nutrient

  5. Community-Based Ecological Restoration: The Wingra Oak Savanna Project.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Bader, Brian J.; Egan, Dave

    1999-01-01

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, a pioneer in ecological restoration, is involving the local community in restoring a site to its presettlement condition as an oak savanna. Besides providing the manual labor of restoration, volunteers learn about the land and the ecological processes that tie nature and culture together. A 60-hour…

  6. Soil carbon in savanna landscapes - spatial pattern, uncertainty, and scaling

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wu, X. B.; Liu, F.; Bai, E.; Boutton, T. W.; Archer, S.

    2008-12-01

    Woody plant invasion into grasslands and savannas has significant impacts on soil organic carbon (SOC) storage and its spatial heterogeneity. However, our understanding of spatial heterogeneity and uncertainty of SOC and its relationship to spatial patterns of vegetation in savanna landscapes remains limited. This understanding is essential for effective assessment and monitoring of SOC storage, turnover, and vulnerability in savanna landscapes. In this study, we investigated the spatial pattern of SOC and its relationship to that of vegetation patterns in a subtropical savanna in south Texas using spatially-explicit intensive sampling and spatial statistical analysis. We found that the spatial distribution of SOC was closely related to the spatial distribution of woody vegetation, and that there were strong within-patch patterns related to past dynamics of the woody vegetation. Results of conditional stochastic simulations showed significantly greater levels of uncertainty of SOC estimations in larger woody patches than in smaller woody patches and grassland, likely caused by complex canopy structure, root distribution and animal disturbance. Assessment of alternative sampling designs demonstrated the effect of spatial uncertainty on estimation accuracy of SOC storage, and helped generate effective sampling strategies to improve SOC estimation accuracy. This understanding of spatial uncertainty of SOC enabled improved approaches to estimate and monitor soil carbon storage over large landscapes based on remote sensing.

  7. Disentangling how landscape spatial and temporal heterogeneity affects Savanna birds.

    PubMed

    Price, Bronwyn; McAlpine, Clive A; Kutt, Alex S; Ward, Doug; Phinn, Stuart R; Ludwig, John A

    2013-01-01

    In highly seasonal tropical environments, temporal changes in habitat and resources are a significant determinant of the spatial distribution of species. This study disentangles the effects of spatial and mid to long-term temporal heterogeneity in habitat on the diversity and abundance of savanna birds by testing four competing conceptual models of varying complexity. Focussing on sites in northeast Australia over a 20 year time period, we used ground cover and foliage projected cover surfaces derived from a time series of Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery, rainfall data and site-level vegetation surveys to derive measures of habitat structure at local (1-100 ha) and landscape (100-1000s ha) scales. We used generalised linear models and an information theoretic approach to test the independent effects of spatial and temporal influences on savanna bird diversity and the abundance of eight species with different life-history behaviours. Of four competing models defining influences on assemblages of savanna birds, the most parsimonious included temporal and spatial variability in vegetation cover and site-scale vegetation structure, suggesting savanna bird species respond to spatial and temporal habitat heterogeneity at both the broader landscape scale and at the fine-scale. The relative weight, strength and direction of the explanatory variables changed with each of the eight species, reflecting their different ecology and behavioural traits. This study demonstrates that variations in the spatial pattern of savanna vegetation over periods of 10 to 20 years at the local and landscape scale strongly affect bird diversity and abundance. Thus, it is essential to monitor and manage both spatial and temporal variability in avian habitat to achieve long-term biodiversity outcomes.

  8. Disentangling How Landscape Spatial and Temporal Heterogeneity Affects Savanna Birds

    PubMed Central

    Price, Bronwyn; McAlpine, Clive A.; Kutt, Alex S.; Ward, Doug; Phinn, Stuart R.; Ludwig, John A.

    2013-01-01

    In highly seasonal tropical environments, temporal changes in habitat and resources are a significant determinant of the spatial distribution of species. This study disentangles the effects of spatial and mid to long-term temporal heterogeneity in habitat on the diversity and abundance of savanna birds by testing four competing conceptual models of varying complexity. Focussing on sites in northeast Australia over a 20 year time period, we used ground cover and foliage projected cover surfaces derived from a time series of Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery, rainfall data and site-level vegetation surveys to derive measures of habitat structure at local (1–100 ha) and landscape (100–1000s ha) scales. We used generalised linear models and an information theoretic approach to test the independent effects of spatial and temporal influences on savanna bird diversity and the abundance of eight species with different life-history behaviours. Of four competing models defining influences on assemblages of savanna birds, the most parsimonious included temporal and spatial variability in vegetation cover and site-scale vegetation structure, suggesting savanna bird species respond to spatial and temporal habitat heterogeneity at both the broader landscape scale and at the fine-scale. The relative weight, strength and direction of the explanatory variables changed with each of the eight species, reflecting their different ecology and behavioural traits. This study demonstrates that variations in the spatial pattern of savanna vegetation over periods of 10 to 20 years at the local and landscape scale strongly affect bird diversity and abundance. Thus, it is essential to monitor and manage both spatial and temporal variability in avian habitat to achieve long-term biodiversity outcomes. PMID:24066138

  9. Coupling carbon allocation with leaf and root phenology predicts tree-grass partitioning along a savanna rainfall gradient

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Haverd, V.; Smith, B.; Raupach, M.; Briggs, P.; Nieradzik, L.; Beringer, J.; Hutley, L.; Trudinger, C. M.; Cleverly, J.

    2015-10-01

    The relative complexity of the mechanisms underlying savanna ecosystem dynamics, in comparison to other biomes such as temperate and tropical forests, challenges the representation of such dynamics in ecosystem and Earth system models. A realistic representation of processes governing carbon allocation and phenology for the two defining elements of savanna vegetation (namely trees and grasses) may be a key to understanding variations in tree/grass partitioning in time and space across the savanna biome worldwide. Here we present a new approach for modelling coupled phenology and carbon allocation, applied to competing tree and grass plant functional types. The approach accounts for a temporal shift between assimilation and growth, mediated by a labile carbohydrate store. This is combined with a method to maximise long-term net primary production (NPP) by optimally partitioning plant growth between fine roots and (leaves + stem). The computational efficiency of the analytic method used here allows it to be uniquely and readily applied at regional scale, as required, for example, within the framework of a global biogeochemical model. We demonstrate the approach by encoding it in a new simple carbon/water cycle model that we call HAVANA (Hydrology and Vegetation-dynamics Algorithm for Northern Australia), coupled to the existing POP (Population Orders Physiology) model for tree demography and disturbance-mediated heterogeneity. HAVANA-POP is calibrated using monthly remotely-sensed fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fPAR) and eddy-covariance-based estimates of carbon and water fluxes at 5 tower sites along the Northern Australian Tropical Transect (NATT), which is characterized by large gradients in rainfall and wildfire disturbance. The calibrated model replicates observed gradients of fPAR, tree leaf area index, basal area and foliage projective cover along the NATT. The model behaviour emerges from complex feed-backs between the plant

  10. Coupling carbon allocation with leaf and root phenology predicts tree-grass partitioning along a savanna rainfall gradient

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Haverd, V.; Smith, B.; Raupach, M.; Briggs, P.; Nieradzik, L.; Beringer, J.; Hutley, L.; Trudinger, C. M.; Cleverly, J.

    2016-02-01

    The relative complexity of the mechanisms underlying savanna ecosystem dynamics, in comparison to other biomes such as temperate and tropical forests, challenges the representation of such dynamics in ecosystem and Earth system models. A realistic representation of processes governing carbon allocation and phenology for the two defining elements of savanna vegetation (namely trees and grasses) may be a key to understanding variations in tree-grass partitioning in time and space across the savanna biome worldwide. Here we present a new approach for modelling coupled phenology and carbon allocation, applied to competing tree and grass plant functional types. The approach accounts for a temporal shift between assimilation and growth, mediated by a labile carbohydrate store. This is combined with a method to maximize long-term net primary production (NPP) by optimally partitioning plant growth between fine roots and (leaves + stem). The computational efficiency of the analytic method used here allows it to be uniquely and readily applied at regional scale, as required, for example, within the framework of a global biogeochemical model.We demonstrate the approach by encoding it in a new simple carbon-water cycle model that we call HAVANA (Hydrology and Vegetation-dynamics Algorithm for Northern Australia), coupled to the existing POP (Population Orders Physiology) model for tree demography and disturbance-mediated heterogeneity. HAVANA-POP is calibrated using monthly remotely sensed fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fPAR) and eddy-covariance-based estimates of carbon and water fluxes at five tower sites along the North Australian Tropical Transect (NATT), which is characterized by large gradients in rainfall and wildfire disturbance. The calibrated model replicates observed gradients of fPAR, tree leaf area index, basal area, and foliage projective cover along the NATT. The model behaviour emerges from complex feedbacks between the plant

  11. A Tree-based Approach for Modelling Interception Loss From Evergreen Oak Mediterranean Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pereira, Fernando L.; Gash, John H. C.; David, Jorge S.; David, Teresa S.; Monteiro, Paulo R.; Valente, Fernanda

    2010-05-01

    woodlands in southern Portugal. For both sites, simulated interception loss agreed well with the observations indicating the adequacy of this new methodology for modelling interception loss by isolated trees in savanna-type ecosystems. Furthermore, the proposed approach is physically based and requires only a limited amount of data. Interception loss for the entire forest can be estimated by scaling up the evaporation from individual trees accounting for the number of trees per unit area.

  12. Pyrogenic carbon from tropical savanna burning: production and stable isotope composition

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Saiz, G.; Wynn, J. G.; Wurster, C. M.; Goodrick, I.; Nelson, P. N.; Bird, M. I.

    2014-10-01

    Widespread burning of mixed tree-grass ecosystems represents the major natural locus of pyrogenic carbon (PyC) production. PyC is a significant, pervasive, and yet poorly understood "slow-cycling" form of carbon present in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, soils and sediments. We conducted sixteen experimental burns on a rainfall transect in northern Australian savannas with C4 grasses ranging from 35 to 99% of total biomass. Residues from each fire were partitioned into PyC and further into recalcitrant (HyPyC) components, with each of these also partitioned into proximal (> 125 μm) and distal (< 125 μm) fluxes. The median [range] PyC production across all burns was 16.0 [11.5]% of total carbon exposed (TCE), with HyPyC accounting for 2.5 [4.9]% of TCE. Both PyC and HyPyC were dominantly partitioned into the proximal flux, likely to remain (initially) close to the site of production. Production of HyPyC was strongly related to fire residence time, with shorter duration fires resulting in higher HyPyC yields. The carbon isotope (δ13C) compositions of PyC and HyPyC were generally lower by 1-3‰ relative to the original biomass, with marked depletion up to 7 ‰ for grasslands dominated by C4 biomass. δ13C values of CO2 produced by combustion was computed by mass balance and ranged from ~0.4 to 1.3‰. The depletion of 13C in PyC and HyPyC relative to the original biomass has significant implications for the interpretation of δ13C values of savanna soil organic carbon and of ancient PyC preserved in the geologic record, and for global 13C isotopic disequilibria calculations.

  13. Pyrogenic carbon from tropical savanna burning: production and stable isotope composition

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Saiz, G.; Wynn, J. G.; Wurster, C. M.; Goodrick, I.; Nelson, P. N.; Bird, M. I.

    2015-03-01

    Widespread burning of mixed tree-grass ecosystems represents the major natural locus of pyrogenic carbon (PyC) production. PyC is a significant, pervasive and yet poorly understood "slow-cycling" form of carbon present in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, soils and sediments. We conducted 16 experimental burns on a rainfall transect through northern Australian savannas with C4 grasses ranging from 35 to 99% of total biomass. Residues from each fire were partitioned into PyC and further into recalcitrant (HyPyC) components, with each of these fluxes also partitioned into proximal components (>125 μm), likely to remain close to the site of burning, and distal components (<125 μm), likely to be transported from the site of burning. The median (range) PyC production across all burns was 16.0 (11.5) % of total carbon exposed (TCE), with HyPyC accounting for 2.5 (4.9) % of TCE. Both PyC and HyPyC were dominantly partitioned into the proximal flux. Production of HyPyC was strongly related to fire residence time, with shorter duration fires resulting in higher HyPyC yields. The carbon isotope (δ13C) compositions of PyC and HyPyC were generally lower by 1-3‰ relative to the original biomass, with marked depletion up to 7‰ for grasslands dominated by C4 biomass. δ13C values of CO2 produced by combustion were computed by mass balance and ranged from ~0.4 to 1.3‰. The depletion of 13C in PyC and HyPyC relative to the original biomass has significant implications for the interpretation of δ13C values of savanna soil organic carbon and of ancient PyC preserved in the geologic record, as well as for global 13C isotopic disequilibria calculations.

  14. Savanna fires increase rates and distances of seed dispersal by ants.

    PubMed

    Parr, C L; Andersen, A N; Chastagnol, C; Duffaud, C

    2007-02-01

    Myrmecochory (seed dispersal by ants) is a prominent dispersal mechanism in many environments, and can play a key role in local vegetation dynamics. Here we investigate its interaction with another key process in vegetation dynamics-fire. We examine ant dispersal of seeds immediately before and after experimental burning in an Australian tropical savanna, one of the world's most fire-prone ecosystems. Specifically, our study addressed the effects of burning on: (1) the composition of ants removing seeds, (2) number of seed removals, and (3) distance of seed dispersal. Fire led to higher rates of seed removal post-fire when compared with unburnt habitat, and markedly altered dispersal distance, with mean dispersal distance increasing more than twofold (from 1.6 to 3.8 m), and many distance dispersal events greater than the pre-fire maximum (7.55 m) being recorded. These changes were due primarily to longer foraging ranges of species of Iridomyrmex, most likely in response to the simplification of their foraging landscape. The significance of enhanced seed-removal rates and distance dispersal for seedling establishment is unclear because the benefits to plants in having their seeds dispersed by ants in northern Australia are poorly known. However, an enhanced removal rate would enhance any benefit of reduced predation by rodents. Similarly, the broader range of dispersal distances would appear to benefit plants in terms of reduced parent-offspring conflict and sibling competition, and the location of favourable seedling microsites. Given the high frequency of fire in Australian tropical savannas, enhanced benefits of seed dispersal by ants would apply for much of the year. PMID:17033801

  15. Evaporation over a Heterogeneous Mixed Savanna-Agricultural Catchment using a Distributed Wireless Sensor Network

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ceperley, N. C.; Mande, T.; Barrenetxea, G.; Vetterli, M.; Yacouba, H.; Repetti, A.; Parlange, M. B.

    2010-12-01

    Small scale rain fed agriculture is the primary livelihood for a large part of the population of Burkina Faso. Regional climate change means that this population is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Additionally, as natural savanna is converted for agriculture, hydrological systems are observed to become less stable as infiltration is decreased and rapid runoff is increased to the detriment of crop productivity, downstream populations and local water sources. The majority of the Singou River Basin, located in South East Burkina Faso is managed by hunting reserves, geared to maintaining high populations of wild game; however, residents surrounding the protected areas have been forced to intensify agriculture that has resulted in soil degradation as well as increases in the frequency and severity of flooding and droughts. Agroforestry, or planting trees in cultivated fields, has been proposed as a solution to help buffer these negative consequences, however the specific hydrologic behavior of the watershed land cover is unknown. We have installed a distributed sensor network of 17 Sensorscope wireless meteorological stations. These stations are dispersed across cultivated rice and millet fields, natural savanna, fallow fields, and around agroforestry fields. Sensorscope routes data through the network of stations to be delivered by a GPRS connection to a main server. This multi hop network allows data to be gathered over a large area and quickly adapts to changes in station performance. Data are available in real time via a website that can be accessed by a mobile phone. The stations are powered autonomously by small photovoltaic panels. This deployment is the first time that these meteorological stations have been used on the African continent. Initial calibration with measures from 2 eddy covariance stations allows us to calculate the energy balance at each of the Sensorscope stations. Thus, we can observe variation in evaporation over the various land cover in the

  16. Seasonal variation of carbon fluxes in a sparse savanna in semi arid Sudan

    PubMed Central

    Ardö, Jonas; Mölder, Meelis; El-Tahir, Bashir Awad; Elkhidir, Hatim Abdalla Mohammed

    2008-01-01

    Background Large spatial, seasonal and annual variability of major drivers of the carbon cycle (precipitation, temperature, fire regime and nutrient availability) are common in the Sahel region. This causes large variability in net ecosystem exchange and in vegetation productivity, the subsistence basis for a major part of the rural population in Sahel. This study compares the 2005 dry and wet season fluxes of CO2 for a grass land/sparse savanna site in semi arid Sudan and relates these fluxes to water availability and incoming photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD). Data from this site could complement the current sparse observation network in Africa, a continent where climatic change could significantly impact the future and which constitute a weak link in our understanding of the global carbon cycle. Results The dry season (represented by Julian day 35–46, February 2005) was characterized by low soil moisture availability, low evapotranspiration and a high vapor pressure deficit. The mean daily NEE (net ecosystem exchange, Eq. 1) was -14.7 mmol d-1 for the 12 day period (negative numbers denote sinks, i.e. flux from the atmosphere to the biosphere). The water use efficiency (WUE) was 1.6 mmol CO2 mol H2O-1 and the light use efficiency (LUE) was 0.95 mmol CO2 mol PPFD-1. Photosynthesis is a weak, but linear function of PPFD. The wet season (represented by Julian day 266–273, September 2005) was, compared to the dry season, characterized by slightly higher soil moisture availability, higher evapotranspiration and a slightly lower vapor pressure deficit. The mean daily NEE was -152 mmol d-1 for the 8 day period. The WUE was lower, 0.97 mmol CO2 mol H2O-1 and the LUE was higher, 7.2 μmol CO2 mmol PPFD-1 during the wet season compared to the dry season. During the wet season photosynthesis increases with PPFD to about 1600 μmol m-2s-1 and then levels off. Conclusion Based on data collected during two short periods, the studied ecosystem was a sink of carbon

  17. Multilocus phylogeography of a widespread savanna-woodland-adapted rodent reveals the influence of Pleistocene geomorphology and climate change in Africa's Zambezi region.

    PubMed

    McDonough, Molly M; Šumbera, Radim; Mazoch, Vladimír; Ferguson, Adam W; Phillips, Caleb D; Bryja, Josef

    2015-10-01

    Understanding historical influences of climate and physiographic barriers in shaping patterns of biodiversity remains limited for many regions of the world. For mammals of continental Africa, phylogeographic studies, particularly for West African lineages, implicate both geographic barriers and climate oscillations in shaping small mammal diversity. In contrast, studies for southern African species have revealed conflicting phylogenetic patterns for how mammalian lineages respond to both climate change and geologic events such as river formation, especially during the Pleistocene. However, these studies were often biased by limited geographic sampling or exclusively focused on large-bodied taxa. We exploited the broad southern African distribution of a savanna-woodland-adapted African rodent, Gerbilliscus leucogaster (bushveld gerbil) and generated mitochondrial, autosomal and sex chromosome data to quantify regional signatures of climatic and vicariant biogeographic phenomena. Results indicate the most recent common ancestor for all G. leucogaster lineages occurred during the early Pleistocene. We documented six divergent mitochondrial lineages that diverged ~0.270-0.100 mya, each of which was geographically isolated during periods characterized by alterations to the course of the Zambezi River and its tributaries as well as regional 'megadroughts'. Results demonstrate the presence of a widespread lineage exhibiting demographic expansion ~0.065-0.035 mya, a time that coincides with savanna-woodland expansion across southern Africa. A multilocus autosomal perspective revealed the influence of the Kafue River as a current barrier to gene flow and regions of secondary contact among divergent mitochondrial lineages. Our results demonstrate the importance of both climatic fluctuations and physiographic vicariance in shaping the distribution of southern African biodiversity.

  18. Multilocus phylogeography of a widespread savanna-woodland-adapted rodent reveals the influence of Pleistocene geomorphology and climate change in Africa's Zambezi region.

    PubMed

    McDonough, Molly M; Šumbera, Radim; Mazoch, Vladimír; Ferguson, Adam W; Phillips, Caleb D; Bryja, Josef

    2015-10-01

    Understanding historical influences of climate and physiographic barriers in shaping patterns of biodiversity remains limited for many regions of the world. For mammals of continental Africa, phylogeographic studies, particularly for West African lineages, implicate both geographic barriers and climate oscillations in shaping small mammal diversity. In contrast, studies for southern African species have revealed conflicting phylogenetic patterns for how mammalian lineages respond to both climate change and geologic events such as river formation, especially during the Pleistocene. However, these studies were often biased by limited geographic sampling or exclusively focused on large-bodied taxa. We exploited the broad southern African distribution of a savanna-woodland-adapted African rodent, Gerbilliscus leucogaster (bushveld gerbil) and generated mitochondrial, autosomal and sex chromosome data to quantify regional signatures of climatic and vicariant biogeographic phenomena. Results indicate the most recent common ancestor for all G. leucogaster lineages occurred during the early Pleistocene. We documented six divergent mitochondrial lineages that diverged ~0.270-0.100 mya, each of which was geographically isolated during periods characterized by alterations to the course of the Zambezi River and its tributaries as well as regional 'megadroughts'. Results demonstrate the presence of a widespread lineage exhibiting demographic expansion ~0.065-0.035 mya, a time that coincides with savanna-woodland expansion across southern Africa. A multilocus autosomal perspective revealed the influence of the Kafue River as a current barrier to gene flow and regions of secondary contact among divergent mitochondrial lineages. Our results demonstrate the importance of both climatic fluctuations and physiographic vicariance in shaping the distribution of southern African biodiversity. PMID:26340076

  19. Reconciling apparent conflicts between mitochondrial and nuclear phylogenies in African elephants.

    PubMed

    Ishida, Yasuko; Oleksyk, Taras K; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; David, Victor A; Zhao, Kai; Stephens, Robert M; Kolokotronis, Sergios-Orestis; Roca, Alfred L

    2011-01-01

    Conservation strategies for African elephants would be advanced by resolution of conflicting claims that they comprise one, two, three or four taxonomic groups, and by development of genetic markers that establish more incisively the provenance of confiscated ivory. We addressed these related issues by genotyping 555 elephants from across Africa with microsatellite markers, developing a method to identify those loci most effective at geographic assignment of elephants (or their ivory), and conducting novel analyses of continent-wide datasets of mitochondrial DNA. Results showed that nuclear genetic diversity was partitioned into two clusters, corresponding to African forest elephants (99.5% Cluster-1) and African savanna elephants (99.4% Cluster-2). Hybrid individuals were rare. In a comparison of basal forest "F" and savanna "S" mtDNA clade distributions to nuclear DNA partitions, forest elephant nuclear genotypes occurred only in populations in which S clade mtDNA was absent, suggesting that nuclear partitioning corresponds to the presence or absence of S clade mtDNA. We reanalyzed African elephant mtDNA sequences from 81 locales spanning the continent and discovered that S clade mtDNA was completely absent among elephants at all 30 sampled tropical forest locales. The distribution of savanna nuclear DNA and S clade mtDNA corresponded closely to range boundaries traditionally ascribed to the savanna elephant species based on habitat and morphology. Further, a reanalysis of nuclear genetic assignment results suggested that West African elephants do not comprise a distinct third species. Finally, we show that some DNA markers will be more useful than others for determining the geographic origins of illegal ivory. These findings resolve the apparent incongruence between mtDNA and nuclear genetic patterns that has confounded the taxonomy of African elephants, affirm the limitations of using mtDNA patterns to infer elephant systematics or population structure, and

  20. Seasonal trends of spectral indexes for monitoring GPP in a Mediterranean cork oak savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cerasoli, S.; Silva, J. M. N.; Carvalhais, N.; Silva, F.; López, G.; Pereira, J. M. C.; Pereira, J. S.

    2012-04-01

    It is nowadays clear that the inclusion of spectral indexes into biogeochemical models can greatly improve actual estimates of gross primary productivity (GPP) at local and global scale. Several vegetation indexes can be obtained by the reflectance of light at specific wavelengths. Among them, the Normalized Vegetation Index (NDVI), the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) and the Photochemical Reflectance Index (PRI) were found suitable to represent different characteristics of ecosystems strictly related with GPP, such as biomass and photosynthetic capacity (NDVI, EVI) or radiation use efficiency (PRI). In Mediterranean cork oak savannas, characterized by high heterogeneity, the application of spectral indexes derived from coarse spatial resolution remotely sensed data (e.g. MODIS imagery) to represent the performance of the whole ecosystem is complex. A better knowledge of the variability of vegetation indexes for specific vegetation types, assessed in fieldwork, is fundamental to the interpretation of the same indexes obtained with satellite data and a key step through the integration of such indexes into biogeochemical models. We consider three different vegetation types: trees, grasses and shrubs, concurring to the overall ecosystem carbon budget in Mediterranean cork oak savannas. Since April 2011, reflectance measurements were performed in the range of 300-2500nm by the use of a handheld hyperspectral spectroradiometer (FieldSpec3, ASD Inc. CO, USA) in several species of the three vegetation types in a cork oak savanna eddy covariance site located in central Portugal. Measurements were always performed around solar noon and repeated approximately every two weeks. Several vegetation indexes were calculated. All indexes showed clear differences among vegetation types and among species. Marked seasonal trends were identified for grasses and shrubs, clearly related with the onset of dry summer conditions. Both NDVI and EVI decreased in grasses from April to the

  1. Stability measures in arid ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nosshi, M. I.; Brunsell, N. A.; Koerner, S.

    2015-12-01

    Stability, the capacity of ecosystems to persist in the face of change, has proven its relevance as a fundamental component of ecological theory. Here, we would like to explore meaningful and quantifiable metrics to define stability, with a focus on highly variable arid and semi-arid savanna ecosystems. Recognizing the importance of a characteristic timescale to any definition of stability, our metrics will be focused scales from annual to multi-annual, capturing different aspects of stability. Our three measures of stability, in increasing order of temporal scale, are: (1) Ecosystem resistance, quantified as the degree to which the system maintains its mean state in response to a perturbation (drought), based on inter-annual variability in Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). (2) An optimization approach, relevant to arid systems with pulse dynamics, that models vegetation structure and function based on a trade off between the ability to respond to resource availability and avoid stress. (3) Community resilience, measured as species turnover rate (β diversity). Understanding the nature of stability in structurally-diverse arid ecosystems, which are highly variable, yields theoretical insight which has practical implications.

  2. Ecological release in lizard assemblages of neotropical savannas.

    PubMed

    Mesquita, Daniel Oliveira; Colli, Guarino Rinaldi; Vitt, Laurie J

    2007-08-01

    We compare lizard assemblages of Cerrado and Amazonian savannas to test the ecological release hypothesis, which predicts that niche dimensions and abundance should be greater in species inhabiting isolated habitat patches with low species richness (Amazonian savannas and isolated Cerrado patches) when compared with nonisolated areas in central Cerrado with greater species richness. We calculated microhabitat and diet niche breadths with data from 14 isolated Cerrado patches and Amazon savanna areas and six central Cerrado populations. Morphological data were compared using average Euclidean distances, and lizard abundance was estimated using the number of lizards captured in pitfall traps over an extended time period. We found no evidence of ecological release with respect to microhabitat use, suggesting that historical factors are better microhabitat predictors than ecological factors. However, data from individual stomachs indicate that ecological release occurs in these areas for one species (Tropidurus) but not others (Ameiva ameiva, Anolis, Cnemidophorus, and Micrablepharus), suggesting that evolutionary lineages respond differently to environmental pressures, with tropidurids being more affected by ecological factors than polychrotids, teiids, and gymnophthalmids. We found no evidence that ecological release occurs in these areas using morphological data. Based on abundance data, our results indicate that the ecological release (density compensation) hypothesis is not supported: lizard species are not more abundant in isolated areas than in nonisolated areas. The ecology of species is highly conservative, varying little from assemblage to assemblage. Nevertheless, increases in niche breadth for some species indicate that ecological release occurs as well. PMID:17437128

  3. Microbial Diversity in Cerrado Biome (Neotropical Savanna) Soils

    PubMed Central

    Pereira de Castro, Alinne; Sartori da Silva, Maria Regina Silveira; Quirino, Betania Ferraz; da Cunha Bustamante, Mercedes Maria; Krüger, Ricardo Henrique

    2016-01-01

    The Cerrado, the largest savanna region in South America, is located in central Brazil. Cerrado physiognomies, which range from savanna grasslands to forest formations, combined with the highly weathered, acidic clay Cerrado soils form a unique ecoregion. In this study, high-throughput sequencing of ribosomal RNA genes was combined with shotgun metagenomic analysis to explore the taxonomic composition and potential functions of soil microbial communities in four different vegetation physiognomies during both dry and rainy seasons. Our results showed that changes in bacterial, archaeal, and fungal community structures in cerrado denso, cerrado sensu stricto, campo sujo, and gallery forest soils strongly correlated with seasonal patterns of soil water uptake. The relative abundance of AD3, WPS-2, Planctomycetes, Thermoprotei, and Glomeromycota typically decreased in the rainy season, whereas the relative abundance of Proteobacteria and Ascomycota increased. In addition, analysis of shotgun metagenomic data revealed a significant increase in the relative abundance of genes associated with iron acquisition and metabolism, dormancy, and sporulation during the dry season, and an increase in the relative abundance of genes related to respiration and DNA and protein metabolism during the rainy season. These gene functional categories are associated with adaptation to water stress. Our results further the understanding of how tropical savanna soil microbial communities may be influenced by vegetation covering and temporal variations in soil moisture. PMID:26849674

  4. Insectivory of savanna chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Fongoli, Senegal.

    PubMed

    Bogart, Stephanie L; Pruetz, Jill D

    2011-05-01

    Little is known about the behavior of chimpanzees living in savanna-woodlands, although they are of particular interest to anthropologists for the insight they can provide regarding the ecological pressures affecting early hominins living in similar habitats. Fongoli, Senegal, is the first site where savanna chimpanzees have been habituated for observational data collection and is the hottest and driest site where such observation of chimpanzees occurs today. Previously, indirect evidence suggested these chimpanzees consumed termites throughout the year, an unusual occurrence for western and eastern chimpanzees. Although meat eating by chimpanzees continues to receive much attention, their use of invertebrate prey has received less emphasis in scenarios of hominin evolution. Here, we further examine the invertebrate diet of Fongoli chimpanzees using direct observational methods and accounting for potential environmental influences. Termite feeding positively correlated with high temperatures. Fongoli chimpanzees spend more time obtaining termites than any other chimpanzee population studied, and this extensive insectivory contributes to the list of distinctive behaviors they display relative to chimpanzees living in more forested habitats. We suggest that savanna chimpanzees at Fongoli differ significantly from chimpanzees elsewhere as a result of the selective pressures characterizing their harsh environment, and this contrast provides an example of a viable referential model for better understanding human evolution. Specifically, our results support the hypotheses that invertebrate prey may have figured more prominently into the diet of early hominins in similar habitats, especially given that invertebrates are an important source of protein and other essential nutrients in a highly seasonal environment. PMID:21484757

  5. Convergent phylogenetic and functional responses to altered fire regimes in mesic savanna grasslands of North America and South Africa.

    PubMed

    Forrestel, Elisabeth J; Donoghue, Michael J; Smith, Melinda D

    2014-08-01

    The importance of fire in the creation and maintenance of mesic grassland communities is well recognized. Improved understanding of how grasses--the dominant clade in these important ecosystems--will respond to alterations in fire regimes is needed in the face of anthropogenically driven climate and land-use change. Here, we examined how grass communities shift in response to experimentally manipulated fire regimes at multiple levels of community diversity--taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional--in C4-dominanted mesic savanna grassland sites with similar structure and physiognomy, yet disparate biogeographic histories. We found that the grass communities were similar in their phylogenetic response and aspects of their functional response to high fire frequency. Both sites exhibited phylogenetic clustering of highly abundant species in annually burned plots, driven by species of the Andropogoneae, and a narrow range of functional strategies associated with rapid post-fire regeneration in a high-light, nitrogen-limited environment. By examining multiple facets of diversity in a comparative context, we identified convergent phylogenetic and functional responses to altered fire regimes in two mesic savanna grasslands. Our results highlight the importance of a common filtering process associated with fire that is consistent across grasslands of disparate biogeographic histories and taxonomic representation.

  6. Scale-dependent bi-trophic interactions in a semi-arid savanna: how herbivores eliminate benefits of nutrient patchiness to plants.

    PubMed

    van der Waal, Cornelis; de Kroon, Hans; van Langevelde, Frank; de Boer, Willem F; Heitkönig, Ignas M A; Slotow, Rob; Pretorius, Yolanda; Prins, Herbert H T

    2016-08-01

    The scale of resource heterogeneity may influence how resources are locally partitioned between co-existing large and small organisms such as trees and grasses in savannas. Scale-related plant responses may, in turn, influence herbivore use of the vegetation. To examine these scale-dependent bi-trophic interactions, we varied fertilizer [(nitrogen (N)/phosphorus (P)/potassium (K)] applications to patches to create different scales of nutrient patchiness (patch size 2 × 2 m, 10 × 10 m, or whole-plot 50 × 50 m) in a large field experiment in intact African savanna. Within-patch fertilizer concentration and the total fertilizer load per plot were independently varied. We found that fertilization increased the leaf N and P concentrations of trees and grasses, resulting in elevated utilization by browsers and grazers. Herbivory off-take was particularly considerable at higher nutrient concentrations. Scale-dependent effects were weak. The net effect of fertilization and herbivory was that plants in fertilized areas tended to grow less and develop smaller rather than larger standing biomass compared to plants growing in areas that remained unfertilized. When all of these effects were considered together at the community (plot) level, herbivory completely eliminated the positive effects of fertilization on the plant community. While this was true for all scales of fertilization, grasses tended to profit more from coarse-grained fertilization and trees from fine-grained fertilization. We conclude that in herbivore-dominated communities, such as the African savanna, nutrient patchiness results in the herbivore community profiting rather more than the plant community, irrespective of the scale of patchiness. At the community level, the allometric scaling theory's prediction of plant-and probably also animal-production does not hold or may even be reversed as a result of complex bi-trophic interactions. PMID:27094543

  7. Small-Scale Variation in Fuel Loads Differentially Affects Two Co-Dominant Bunchgrasses in a Species-Rich Pine Savanna

    PubMed Central

    Gagnon, Paul R.; Harms, Kyle E.; Platt, William J.; Passmore, Heather A.; Myers, Jonathan A.

    2012-01-01

    Ecological disturbances frequently control the occurrence and patterning of dominant plants in high-diversity communities like C4 grasslands and savannas. In such ecosystems disturbance-related processes can have important implications for species, and for whole communities when those species are dominant, yet mechanistic understanding of such processes remains fragmentary. Multiple bunchgrass species commonly co-dominate disturbance-dependent and species-rich pine savannas, where small-scale fuel heterogeneity may influence bunchgrass survival and growth following fires. We quantified how fire in locally varying fuel loads influenced dynamics of dominant C4 bunchgrasses in a species-rich pine savanna in southeastern Louisiana, USA. We focused on two congeneric, co-dominant species (Schizachyrium scoparium and S. tenerum) with similar growth forms, functional traits and reproductive strategies to highlight effects of fuel heterogeneity during fires. In experimental plots with either reduced or increased fuels versus controls with unmanipulated fuels, we compared: 1) bunchgrass damage and 2) mortality from fires; 3) subsequent growth and 4) flowering. Compared to controls, fire with increased fuels caused greater damage, mortality and subsequent flowering, but did not affect post-fire growth. Fire with reduced fuels had no effect on any of the four measures. The two species responded differently to fire with increased fuels – S. scoparium incurred measurably more damage and mortality than S. tenerum. Logistic regression indicated that the larger average size of S. tenerum tussocks made them resistant to more severe burning where fuels were increased. We speculate that locally increased fuel loading may be important in pine savannas for creating colonization sites because where fuels are light or moderate, dominant bunchgrasses persist through fires. Small-scale heterogeneity in fires, and differences in how species tolerate fire may together promote shared local

  8. The Spatial Pattern and Interactions of Woody Plants on the Temperate Savanna of Inner Mongolia, China: The Effects of Alternating Seasonal Grazing-Mowing Regimes

    PubMed Central

    2015-01-01

    Ulmus pumila tree-dominated temperate savanna, which is distributed widely throughout the forest-steppe ecotone on the Mongolian Plateau, is a relatively stable woody-herbaceous complex ecosystem in northern China. Relatively more attention has been paid to the degradation of typical steppe areas, whereas less focus has been placed on the succession of this typical temperate savanna under the present management regime. In this study, we established 3 sample plots 100 m×100 m in size along a gradient of fixed distances from one herder’s stationary site and then surveyed all the woody plants in these plots. A spatial point pattern analysis was employed to clarify the spatial distribution and interaction of these woody plants. The results indicated that old U. pumila trees (DBH ≥ 20 cm) showed a random distribution and that medium U. pumila trees (5 cm ≤ DBH < 20 cm) showed an aggregated distribution at a smaller scale and a random distribution at a larger scale; few or no juvenile trees (DBH < 5 cm) were present, and seedlings (without DBH) formed aggregations in all 3 plots. These findings can be explained by an alternate seasonal grazing-mowing regime (exclosure in summer, mowing in autumn and grazing in winter and spring); the shrubs in all 3 plots exist along a grazing gradient that harbors xerophytic and mesophytic shrubs. Of these shrubs, xerophytic shrubs show significant aggregation at a smaller scale (0-5.5 m), whereas mesophytic shrubs show significant aggregation at a larger scale (0-25 m), which may be the result of the dual effects of grazing pressure and climate change. Medium trees and seedlings significantly facilitate the distributions of xerophytic shrubs and compete significantly with mesophytic shrubs due to differences in water use strategies. We conclude that the implementation of an alternative grazing-mowing regime results in xerophytic shrub encroachment or existence, breaking the chain of normal succession in a U. pumila tree

  9. The Spatial Pattern and Interactions of Woody Plants on the Temperate Savanna of Inner Mongolia, China: The Effects of Alternating Seasonal Grazing-Mowing Regimes.

    PubMed

    Wang, Xiao; Zhang, Bo; Zhang, Kebin; Zhou, Jinxing; Ahmad, Bilal

    2015-01-01

    Ulmus pumila tree-dominated temperate savanna, which is distributed widely throughout the forest-steppe ecotone on the Mongolian Plateau, is a relatively stable woody-herbaceous complex ecosystem in northern China. Relatively more attention has been paid to the degradation of typical steppe areas, whereas less focus has been placed on the succession of this typical temperate savanna under the present management regime. In this study, we established 3 sample plots 100 m×100 m in size along a gradient of fixed distances from one herder's stationary site and then surveyed all the woody plants in these plots. A spatial point pattern analysis was employed to clarify the spatial distribution and interaction of these woody plants. The results indicated that old U. pumila trees (DBH ≥ 20 cm) showed a random distribution and that medium U. pumila trees (5 cm ≤ DBH < 20 cm) showed an aggregated distribution at a smaller scale and a random distribution at a larger scale; few or no juvenile trees (DBH < 5 cm) were present, and seedlings (without DBH) formed aggregations in all 3 plots. These findings can be explained by an alternate seasonal grazing-mowing regime (exclosure in summer, mowing in autumn and grazing in winter and spring); the shrubs in all 3 plots exist along a grazing gradient that harbors xerophytic and mesophytic shrubs. Of these shrubs, xerophytic shrubs show significant aggregation at a smaller scale (0-5.5 m), whereas mesophytic shrubs show significant aggregation at a larger scale (0-25 m), which may be the result of the dual effects of grazing pressure and climate change. Medium trees and seedlings significantly facilitate the distributions of xerophytic shrubs and compete significantly with mesophytic shrubs due to differences in water use strategies. We conclude that the implementation of an alternative grazing-mowing regime results in xerophytic shrub encroachment or existence, breaking the chain of normal succession in a U. pumila tree community

  10. The Spatial Pattern and Interactions of Woody Plants on the Temperate Savanna of Inner Mongolia, China: The Effects of Alternating Seasonal Grazing-Mowing Regimes.

    PubMed

    Wang, Xiao; Zhang, Bo; Zhang, Kebin; Zhou, Jinxing; Ahmad, Bilal

    2015-01-01

    Ulmus pumila tree-dominated temperate savanna, which is distributed widely throughout the forest-steppe ecotone on the Mongolian Plateau, is a relatively stable woody-herbaceous complex ecosystem in northern China. Relatively more attention has been paid to the degradation of typical steppe areas, whereas less focus has been placed on the succession of this typical temperate savanna under the present management regime. In this study, we established 3 sample plots 100 m×100 m in size along a gradient of fixed distances from one herder's stationary site and then surveyed all the woody plants in these plots. A spatial point pattern analysis was employed to clarify the spatial distribution and interaction of these woody plants. The results indicated that old U. pumila trees (DBH ≥ 20 cm) showed a random distribution and that medium U. pumila trees (5 cm ≤ DBH < 20 cm) showed an aggregated distribution at a smaller scale and a random distribution at a larger scale; few or no juvenile trees (DBH < 5 cm) were present, and seedlings (without DBH) formed aggregations in all 3 plots. These findings can be explained by an alternate seasonal grazing-mowing regime (exclosure in summer, mowing in autumn and grazing in winter and spring); the shrubs in all 3 plots exist along a grazing gradient that harbors xerophytic and mesophytic shrubs. Of these shrubs, xerophytic shrubs show significant aggregation at a smaller scale (0-5.5 m), whereas mesophytic shrubs show significant aggregation at a larger scale (0-25 m), which may be the result of the dual effects of grazing pressure and climate change. Medium trees and seedlings significantly facilitate the distributions of xerophytic shrubs and compete significantly with mesophytic shrubs due to differences in water use strategies. We conclude that the implementation of an alternative grazing-mowing regime results in xerophytic shrub encroachment or existence, breaking the chain of normal succession in a U. pumila tree community

  11. Tree and stand transpiration in a Midwestern bur oak savanna after elm encroachment and restoration thinning

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Asbjornsen, H.; Tomer, M.D.; Gomez-Cardenas, M.; Brudvig, L.A.; Greenan, C.M.; Schilling, K.

    2007-01-01

    Oak savannas, once common in the Midwest, are now isolated remnants within agricultural landscapes. Savanna remnants are frequently encroached by invasive trees to become woodlands. Thinning and prescribed burning can restore savanna structure, but the ecohydrological effects of managing these remnants are poorly understood. In this study, we measured sap flow (Js) to quantify transpiration in an Iowa bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) savanna woodland encroached by elms (Ulmus americana), and in an adjacent restored savanna after thinning to remove elms, during summer 2004. Savanna oaks had greater mean daily Js (35.9 L dm-2 day-1) than woodland oaks (20.7 L dm-2 day-1) and elms (12.4 L dm-2 day-1). The response of Js to vapor pressure deficit (D) was unexpectedly weak, although oaks in both stands showed negative correlation between daily Js and D for D > 0.4 kPa. An earlier daily peak in Js in the elm trees showed a possible advantage for water uptake. As anticipated, the woodland's stand transpiration was greater (1.23 mm day-1) than the savanna's (0.35 mm day-1), yet the savanna achieved 30% of the woodland's transpiration with only 11% of its sapwood area. The difference in transpiration influenced water table depths, which were 2 m in the savanna and 6.5 m in the woodland. Regionally, row-crop agriculture has increased groundwater recharge and raised water tables, providing surplus water that perhaps facilitated elm encroachment. This has implications for restoration of savanna remnants. If achieving a savanna ecohydrology is an aim of restoration, then restoration strategies may require buffers, or targeting of large or hydrologically isolated remnants. ?? 2007.

  12. Structural, physiognomic and above-ground biomass variation in savanna-forest transition zones on three continents - how different are co-occurring savanna and forest formations?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Veenendaal, E. M.; Torello-Raventos, M.; Feldpausch, T. R.; Domingues, T. F.; Gerard, F.; Schrodt, F.; Saiz, G.; Quesada, C. A.; Djagbletey, G.; Ford, A.; Kemp, J.; Marimon, B. S.; Marimon-Junior, B. H.; Lenza, E.; Ratter, J. A.; Maracahipes, L.; Sasaki, D.; Sonke, B.; Zapfack, L.; Villarroel, D.; Schwarz, M.; Yoko Ishida, F.; Gilpin, M.; Nardoto, G. B.; Affum-Baffoe, K.; Arroyo, L.; Bloomfield, K.; Ceca, G.; Compaore, H.; Davies, K.; Diallo, A.; Fyllas, N. M.; Gignoux, J.; Hien, F.; Johnson, M.; Mougin, E.; Hiernaux, P.; Killeen, T.; Metcalfe, D.; Miranda, H. S.; Steininger, M.; Sykora, K.; Bird, M. I.; Grace, J.; Lewis, S.; Phillips, O. L.; Lloyd, J.

    2015-05-01

    Through interpretations of remote-sensing data and/or theoretical propositions, the idea that forest and savanna represent "alternative stable states" is gaining increasing acceptance. Filling an observational gap, we present detailed stratified floristic and structural analyses for forest and savanna stands located mostly within zones of transition (where both vegetation types occur in close proximity) in Africa, South America and Australia. Woody plant leaf area index variation was related to tree canopy cover in a similar way for both savanna and forest with substantial overlap between the two vegetation types. As total woody plant canopy cover increased, so did the relative contribution of middle and lower strata of woody vegetation. Herbaceous layer cover declined as woody cover increased. This pattern of understorey grasses and herbs progressively replaced by shrubs as the canopy closes over was found for both savanna and forests and on all continents. Thus, once subordinate woody canopy layers are taken into account, a less marked transition in woody plant cover across the savanna-forest-species discontinuum is observed compared to that inferred when trees of a basal diameter > 0.1 m are considered in isolation. This is especially the case for shrub-dominated savannas and in taller savannas approaching canopy closure. An increased contribution of forest species to the total subordinate cover is also observed as savanna stand canopy closure occurs. Despite similarities in canopy-cover characteristics, woody vegetation in Africa and Australia attained greater heights and stored a greater amount of above-ground biomass than in South America. Up to three times as much above-ground biomass is stored in forests compared to savannas under equivalent climatic conditions. Savanna-forest transition zones were also found to typically occur at higher precipitation regimes for South America than for Africa. Nevertheless, consistent across all three continents coexistence

  13. Estimative of energy budget in Brazilian Savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Santanna, F. B.; Arruda, P. H.; Pinto-Jr, O. B.; Nogueira, J. D.

    2013-12-01

    The main goal of this work was to estimate the sensible (H) and latent (LE) heat flux using the eddy covariance method in a Cerrado "Campo Sujo" area, basically with herb-shrub physiognomy, sparse woody vegetation and approximately 2m height. The geographical position of the Cerrado, altitude, latitude, longitude, climate and weather conditions are determined by the dynamics of the atmosphere that affects the whole South America and consequently influence the ecological framework of ecosystems. The results shown by the components considered in the energy balance were more significant during the day, which the atmospheric boundary layer extends from the ground to about 50 or 100 meters height, showing greater instability and turbulence (u* > 0.2 m / s), and this turbulence is what justifies the use of the eddy covariance method to estimate the sensible and latent heat flux. The Cerrado presents seasonal difference between the densities estimates of sensible (H) and latent (LE) heat flux. During the rainy season the sensible heat flux (H) was 25% and the latent heat flux (LE) 54%. During the dry season the sensible heat flux (H) was 42% and the latent heat flux (LE) 30% of the energy budget.

  14. Partitioning understory evapotranspiration in semi-arid ecosystems in Namibia using the isotopic composition of water vapour

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    de Blécourt, Marleen; Gaj, Marcel; Holtorf, Kim-Kirsten; Gröngröft, Alexander; Brokate, Ralph; Himmelsbach, Thomas; Eschenbach, Annette

    2016-04-01

    In dry environments with a sparse vegetation cover, understory evapotranspiration is a major component of the ecosystem water balance. Consequently, knowledge on the size of evapotranspiration fluxes and the driving factors is important for our understanding of the hydrological cycle. Understory evapotranspiration is made up of soil evaporation and plant transpiration. Soil evaporation can be measured directly from patches free of vegetation. However, when understory vegetation is present distinguishing between soil evaporation and plant transpiration is challenging. In this study, we aim to partition understory evapotranspiration based on an approach that combines the measurements of water-vapour fluxes using the closed chamber method with measurements of the isotopic composition of water vapour. The measurements were done in the framework of SASSCAL (Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management). The study sites were located in three different semi-arid ecosystems in Namibia: thornbush savanna, Baikiaea woodland and shrubland. At each site measurements were done under tree canopies as well as at unshaded areas between the canopies. We measured evaporation from the bare soil and evapotranspiration from patches covered with herbaceous species and shrubs using a transparent chamber connected with an infrared gas analyser (LI-8100A, LICOR Inc.). The stable isotope composition of water vapour inside the chamber and depth profiles of soil water stable isotopes were determined in-situ using a tuneable off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscope (OA-ICOS, Los Gatos Research, DLT 100). Xylem samples were extracted using the cryogenic vacuum extraction method and the isotopic composition of the extracted water was measured subsequently with a cavity-ring-down spectrometer (CRDS L2120-i, Picarro Inc.). We will present the quantified fluxes of understory evapotranspiration measured in the three different ecosystems, show the

  15. On the relative role of fire and rainfall in determining vegetation patterns in tropical savannas: a simulation study

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Spessa, Allan; Fisher, Rosie

    2010-05-01

    Tropical savannas cover 18% of the world's land surface and are amongst the most productive terrestrial systems in the world. They comprise 15% of the total terrestrial carbon stock, with an estimated mean net primary productivity (NPP) of 7.2 tCha-1yr-1 or two thirds of NPP in tropical forests. Tropical savannas are the most frequently burnt biome, with fire return intervals in highly productive areas being typically 1-2 years. Fires shape vegetation species composition, tree to grass ratios and nutrient redistribution, as well as the biosphere-atmosphere exchange of trace gases, momentum and radiative energy. Tropical savannas are a major source of emissions, contributing 38 % of total annual CO2 from biomass burning, 30% CO, 19 % CH4 and 59 % NOx. Climatically, they occur in regions subject to a strongly seasonal ‘wet-dry' regime, usually under monsoonal control from the movement of the inter-tropical convergence zone. In general, rainfall during the prior wet season(s) determines the amount of grass fuel available for burning while the length of the dry season influences fuel moisture content. Rainfall in tropical savannas exhibits high inter-annual variability, and under future climate change, is projected to change significantly in much of Africa, South America and northern Australia. Process-based simulation models of fire-vegetation dynamics and feedbacks are critical for determining the impacts of wildfires under projected future climate change on i) ecosystem structure and function, and ii) emissions of trace gases and aerosols from biomass burning. A new mechanistic global fire model SPITFIRE (SPread and InTensity of FIRE) has been designed to overcome many of the limitations in existing fire models set within Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs). SPITFIRE has been applied in coupled mode globally and southern Africa, both as part of the LPJ DGVM. It has also been driven with MODIS burnt area data applied to sub-Saharan Africa, while coupled to the

  16. Fire Patterns and Drivers of Fires in the West African Tropical Forest

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dwomoh, F. K.; Wimberly, M. C.

    2015-12-01

    The West African tropical forest (referred to as the Upper Guinean forest, UGF), is a global biodiversity hotspot providing vital ecosystem services for the region's socio-economic and environmental wellbeing. It is also one of the most fragmented and human-modified tropical forest ecosystems, with the only remaining large patches of original forests contained in protected areas. However, these remnant forests are susceptible to continued fire-mediated degradation and forest loss due to intense climatic, demographic and land use pressures. We analyzed human and climatic drivers of fire activity in the sub-region to better understand the spatial and temporal patterns of these risks. We utilized MODIS active fire and burned area products to identify fire activity within the sub-region. We measured climatic variability using TRMM rainfall data and derived indicators of human land use from a variety of geospatial datasets. We used a boosted regression trees model to determine the influences of predictor variables on fire activity. Our analyses indicated that the spatial and temporal variability of precipitation is a key driving factor of fire activity in the UGF. Anthropogenic effects on fire activity in the area were evident through the influences of agriculture and low-density populations. These human footprints in the landscape make forests more susceptible to fires through forest fragmentation, degradation, and fire spread from agricultural areas. Forested protected areas within the forest savanna mosaic experienced frequent fires, whereas the more humid forest areas located in the south and south-western portions of the study area had fewer fires as these rainforests tend to offer some buffering against fire encroachment. These results improve characterization of UGF fire regime and expand our understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics of tropical forest fires in response to human and climatic pressures.

  17. Water uptake and nutrient concentrations under a floodplain oak savanna during a non-flood period, lower Cedar River, Iowa

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Schilling, K.E.; Jacobson, P.

    2009-01-01

    Floodplains during non-flood periods are less well documented than when flooding occurs, but non-flood periods offer opportunities to investigate vegetation controls on water and nutrient cycling. In this study, we characterized water uptake and nutrient concentration patterns from 2005 to 2007 under an oak savanna located on the floodplain of the Cedar River in Muscatine County, Iowa. The water table ranged from 0.5 to 2.5 m below ground surface and fluctuated in response to stream stage, plant water demand and rainfall inputs. Applying the White method to diurnal water table fluctuations, daily ET from groundwater averaged more than 3.5 mm/day in June and July and approximately 2 mm/day in May and August. Total annual ET averaged 404 mm for a growing season from mid-May to mid-October. Savanna groundwater concentrations of nitrate-N, ammonium-N, and phosphate-P were very low (mean <0.18, <0.14, <0.08 mg/l, respectively), whereas DOC concentrations were high (7.1 mg/l). Low concentrations of N and P were in contrast to high nutrient concentrations in the nearby Cedar River, where N and P averaged 7.5 mg/ l and 0.13, respectively. In regions dominated by intensive agriculture, study results document valuable ecosystem services for native floodplain ecosystems in reducing watershed-scale nutrient losses and providing an oasis for biological complexity. Improved understanding of the environmental conditions of regionally significant habitats, including major controls on water table elevations and water quality, offers promise for better management aimed at preserving the ecology of these important habitats. Copyright ?? 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

  18. Structural, physiognomic and aboveground biomass variation in savanna-forest transition zones on three continents. How different are co-occurring savanna and forest formations?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Veenendaal, E. M.; Torello-Raventos, M.; Feldpausch, T. R.; Domingues, T. F.; Gerard, F.; Schrodt, F.; Saiz, G.; Quesada, C. A.; Djagbletey, G.; Ford, A.; Kemp, J.; Marimon, B. S.; Marimon-Junior, B. H.; Lenza, E.; Ratter, J. A.; Maracahipes, L.; Sasaki, D.; Sonké, B.; Zapfack, L.; Villarroel, D.; Schwarz, M.; Yoko Ishida, F.; Gilpin, M.; Nardoto, G. B.; Affum-Baffoe, K.; Arroyo, L.; Bloomfield, K.; Ceca, G.; Compaore, H.; Davies, K.; Diallo, A.; Fyllas, N. M.; Gignoux, J.; Hien, F.; Johnson, M.; Mougin, E.; Hiernaux, P.; Killeen, T.; Metcalfe, D.; Miranda, H. S.; Steininger, M.; Sykora, K.; Bird, M. I.; Grace, J.; Lewis, S.; Phillips, O. L.; Lloyd, J.

    2014-03-01

    Through interpretations of remote sensing data and/or theoretical propositions, the idea that forest and savanna represent "alternative stable states" is gaining increasing acceptance. Filling an observational gap, we present detailed stratified floristic and structural analyses for forest and savanna stands mostly located within zones of transition (where both vegetation types occur in close proximity) in Africa, South America and Australia. Woody plant leaf area index variation was related in a similar way to tree canopy cover for both savanna and forest with substantial overlap between the two vegetation types. As total woody plant canopy cover increased, so did the contribution of middle and lower strata of woody vegetation to this total. Herbaceous layer cover also declined as woody cover increased. This pattern of understorey grasses and herbs being progressively replaced by shrubs as canopy closure occurs was found for both savanna and forests and on all continents. Thus, once subordinate woody canopy layers are taken into account, a less marked transition in woody plant cover across the savanna-forest species discontinuum is observed compared to that implied when trees of a basal diameter > 0.1m are considered in isolation. This is especially the case for shrub-dominated savannas and in taller savannas approaching canopy closure. An increased contribution of forest species to the total subordinate cover is also observed as savanna stand canopy closure occurs. Despite similarities in canopy cover characteristics, woody vegetation in Africa and Australia attained greater heights and stored a greater concentration of above ground biomass than in South America. Up to three times as much aboveground biomass is stored in forests compared to savannas under equivalent climatic conditions. Savanna/forest transition zones were also found to typically occur at higher precipitation regimes for South America than for Africa. Nevertheless, coexistence was found to be

  19. Monitoring contrasting land management in the savanna landscapes of northern Australia.

    PubMed

    Franklin, Donald C; Petty, Aaron M; Williamson, Grant J; Brook, Barry W; Bowman, David M J S

    2008-04-01

    We compared measures of ecosystem state across six adjacent land-tenure groups in the intact tropical savanna landscapes of northern Australia. Tenure groups include two managed by Aboriginal owners, two national parks, a cluster of pastoral leases, and a military training area. This information is of relevance to the debate about the role of indigenous lands in the Australian conservation estate. The timing and frequency of fire was determined by satellite imagery; the biomass and composition of the herb-layer and the abundance of large feral herbivores by field surveys; and weediness by analysis of a Herbarium database. European tenures varied greatly in fire frequencies but were consistently burnt earlier in the dry season than the two Aboriginal tenures, the latter having intermediate fire frequencies. Weeds were more frequent in the European tenures, whilst feral animals were most abundant in the Aboriginal tenures. This variation strongly implies a signature of current management and/or recent environmental history. We identify indices suitable for monitoring of management outcomes in an extensive and sparsely populated landscape. Aboriginal land offers a unique opportunity for the conservation of biodiversity through the maintenance of traditional fire regimes. However, without financial support, traditional practices may prove unsustainable both economically and because exotic weeds and feral animals will alter fire regimes. An additional return on investment in Aboriginal land management is likely to be improved livelihoods and health outcomes for these disadvantaged communities.

  20. Monitoring Contrasting Land Management in the Savanna Landscapes of Northern Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Franklin, Donald C.; Petty, Aaron M.; Williamson, Grant J.; Brook, Barry W.; Bowman, David M. J. S.

    2008-04-01

    We compared measures of ecosystem state across six adjacent land-tenure groups in the intact tropical savanna landscapes of northern Australia. Tenure groups include two managed by Aboriginal owners, two national parks, a cluster of pastoral leases, and a military training area. This information is of relevance to the debate about the role of indigenous lands in the Australian conservation estate. The timing and frequency of fire was determined by satellite imagery; the biomass and composition of the herb-layer and the abundance of large feral herbivores by field surveys; and weediness by analysis of a Herbarium database. European tenures varied greatly in fire frequencies but were consistently burnt earlier in the dry season than the two Aboriginal tenures, the latter having intermediate fire frequencies. Weeds were more frequent in the European tenures, whilst feral animals were most abundant in the Aboriginal tenures. This variation strongly implies a signature of current management and/or recent environmental history. We identify indices suitable for monitoring of management outcomes in an extensive and sparsely populated landscape. Aboriginal land offers a unique opportunity for the conservation of biodiversity through the maintenance of traditional fire regimes. However, without financial support, traditional practices may prove unsustainable both economically and because exotic weeds and feral animals will alter fire regimes. An additional return on investment in Aboriginal land management is likely to be improved livelihoods and health outcomes for these disadvantaged communities.

  1. Impact of Land Use Management and Soil Properties on Denitrifier Communities of Namibian Savannas.

    PubMed

    Braker, Gesche; Matthies, Diethart; Hannig, Michael; Brandt, Franziska Barbara; Brenzinger, Kristof; Gröngröft, Alexander

    2015-11-01

    We studied potential denitrification activity and the underlying denitrifier communities in soils from a semiarid savanna ecosystem of the Kavango region in NE Namibia to help in predicting future changes in N(2)O emissions due to continuing changes of land use in this region. Soil type and land use (pristine, fallow, and cultivated soils) influenced physicochemical characteristics of the soils that are relevant to denitrification activity and N(2)O fluxes from soils and affected potential denitrification activity. Potential denitrification activity was assessed by using the denitrifier enzyme activity (DEA) assay as a proxy for denitrification activity in the soil. Soil type and land use influenced C and N contents of the soils. Pristine soils that had never been cultivated had a particularly high C content. Cultivation reduced soil C content and the abundance of denitrifiers and changed the composition of the denitrifier communities. DEA was strongly and positively correlated with soil C content and was higher in pristine than in fallow or recently cultivated soils. Soil type and the composition of both the nirK- and nirS-type denitrifier communities also influenced DEA. In contrast, other soil characteristics like N content, C:N ratio, and pH did not predict DEA. These findings suggest that due to greater availability of soil organic matter, and hence a more effective N cycling, the natural semiarid grasslands emit more N(2)O than managed lands in Namibia.

  2. Fuel model selection for BEHAVE in midwestern oak savannas

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Grabner, K.W.; Dwyer, J.P.; Cutter, B.E.

    2001-01-01

    BEHAVE, a fire behavior prediction system, can be a useful tool for managing areas with prescribed fire. However, the proper choice of fuel models can be critical in developing management scenarios. BEHAVE predictions were evaluated using four standardized fuel models that partially described oak savanna fuel conditions: Fuel Model 1 (Short Grass), 2 (Timber and Grass), 3 (Tall Grass), and 9 (Hardwood Litter). Although all four models yielded regressions with R2 in excess of 0.8, Fuel Model 2 produced the most reliable fire behavior predictions.

  3. Imprint of oaks on nitrogen availability and δ15N in California grassland-savanna: A case of enhanced N inputs?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Perakis, S.S.; Kellogg, C.H.

    2007-01-01

    Woody vegetation is distributed patchily in many arid and semi-arid ecosystems, where it is often associated with elevated nitrogen (N) pools and availability in islands of fertility. We measured N availability and δ15N in paired blue-oak versus annual grass dominated patches to characterize the causes and consequences of spatial variation in N dynamics of grassland-savanna in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. We found significantly greater surface soil N pools (0–20 cm) in oak patches compared to adjacent grass areas across a 700 m elevation gradient from foothills to the savanna-forest boundary. N accumulation under oaks was associated with a 0.6‰ depletion in soil δ15N relative to grass patches. Results from a simple δ15N mass balance simulation model, constrained by surface soil N and δ15N measured in the field, suggest that the development of islands of N fertility under oaks can be traced primarily to enhanced N inputs. Net N mineralization and percent nitrification in laboratory incubations were consistently higher under oaks across a range of experimental soil moisture regimes, suggesting a scenario whereby greater N inputs to oak patches result in net N accumulation and enhanced N cycling, with a potential for greater nitrate loss as well. N concentrations of three common herbaceous annual plants were nearly 50% greater under oak than in adjacent grass patches, with community composition shifted towards more N-demanding species under oaks. We find that oaks imprint distinct N-rich islands of fertility that foster local feedback between soil N cycling, plant N uptake, and herbaceous community composition. Such patch-scale differences in N inputs and plant–soil interactions increase biogeochemical heterogeneity in grassland-savanna ecosystems and may shape watershed-level responses to chronic N deposition.

  4. Competition favors elk over beaver in a riparian willow ecosystem

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Baker, B.W.; Peinetti, H.R.; Coughenour, M.C.; Johnson, T.L.

    2012-01-01

    Beaver (Castor spp.) conservation requires an understanding of their complex interactions with competing herbivores. Simulation modeling offers a controlled environment to examine long-term dynamics in ecosystems driven by uncontrollable variables. We used a new version of the SAVANNA ecosystem model to investigate beaver (C. Canadensis) and elk (Cervus elapses) competition for willow (Salix spp.). We initialized the model with field data from Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA, to simulate a 4-ha riparian ecosystem containing beaver, elk, and willow. We found beaver persisted indefinitely when elk density was or = 30 elk km_2. The loss of tall willow preceded rapid beaver declines, thus willow condition may predict beaver population trajectory in natural environments. Beaver were able to persist with slightly higher elk densities if beaver alternated their use of foraging sites in a rest-rotation pattern rather than maintained continuous use. Thus, we found asymmetrical competition for willow strongly favored elk over beaver in a simulated montane ecosystem. Finally, we discuss application of the SAVANNA model and mechanisms of competition relative to beaver persistence as metapopulations, ecological resistance and alternative state models, and ecosystem regulation.

  5. Stem and leaf gas exchange and their responses to fire in a north Australian tropical savanna.

    PubMed

    Cernusak, Lucas A; Hutley, Lindsay B; Beringer, Jason; Tapper, Nigel J

    2006-04-01

    We measured stem CO2 efflux and leaf gas exchange in a tropical savanna ecosystem in northern Australia, and assessed the impact of fire on these processes. Gas exchange of mature leaves that flushed after a fire showed only slight differences from that of mature leaves on unburned trees. Expanding leaves typically showed net losses of CO2 to the atmosphere in both burned and unburned trees, even under saturating irradiance. Fire caused stem CO2 efflux to decline in overstory trees, when measured 8 weeks post-fire. This decline was thought to have resulted from reduced availability of C substrate for respiration, due to reduced canopy photosynthesis caused by leaf scorching, and to priority allocation of fixed C towards reconstruction of a new canopy. At the ecosystem scale, we estimated the annual above-ground woody-tissue CO2 efflux to be 275 g C m(-2) ground area year(-1) in a non-fire year, or approximately 13% of the annual gross primary production. We contrasted the canopy physiology of two co-dominant overstory tree species, one of which has a smooth bark on its branches capable of photosynthetic re-fixation (Eucalyptus miniata), and the other of which has a thick, rough bark incapable of re-fixation (Eucalyptus tetrodonta). Eucalyptus miniata supported a larger branch sapwood cross-sectional area in the crown per unit subtending leaf area, and had higher leaf stomatal conductance and photosynthesis than E. tetrodonta. Re-fixation by photosynthetic bark reduces the C cost of delivering water to evaporative sites in leaves, because it reduces the net C cost of constructing and maintaining sapwood. We suggest that re-fixation allowed leaves of E. miniata to photosynthesize at higher rates than those of E. tetrodonta, while the two invested similar amounts of C in the maintenance of branch sapwood.

  6. Monitoring drought impact on Mediterranean oak savanna vegetation using remote sensing

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    González-Dugo, Maria P.; Carpintero, Elisabet; Andreu, Ana

    2015-04-01

    A holm oak savanna, known as dehesa in Spain and montado in Portugal, is the largest agroforest ecosystem in Europe, covering about 3 million hectares in the Iberian Peninsula and Greece (Papanastasis et al., 2004). It is considered an example of sustainable land use, supporting a large number of species and diversity of habitats and for its importance in rural development and economy (Plieninger et al., 2001). It is a combination between an agricultural and a naturally vegetated ecosystem, consisting of widely-spaced oak trees (mostly Quercus Ilex and Quercus suber) combined with a sub-canopy composed by crops, annual grassland and/or shrubs. It has a Mediterranean climate with severe periodic droughts. In the last decades, this system is being exposed to multiple threats derived from socio-economic changes and intensive agricultural use, which have caused environmental degradation, including tree decline, changes in soil properties and hydrological processes, and an increase of soil erosion (Coelho et al., 2004). Soil water dynamics plays a central role in the current decline and reduction of forested areas that jeopardizes the preservation of the system. In this work, a series of remotely sensed images since 1990 to present was used to evaluate the effect of several drought events occurred in the study area (1995, 2009, 2010/2011) on the tree density and water status. Data from satellites Landsat and field measurements have been combined in a spectral mixture model to assess separately the evolution of tree, dry grass and bare soil ground coverage. Only summer images have been used to avoid the influence of the green herbaceous layer on the analysis. Thermal data from the same sensors and meteorological information are integrated in a two source surface energy balance model to compute the Evaporative Stress Index (ESI) and evaluate the vegetation water status. The results have provided insights about the severity of each event and the spatial distribution of

  7. Modeling the health and productivity of Oak Savannas in central USA

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Nightingale, J. M.; Hill, M. J.

    2012-12-01

    Oak species have a long history of domination in eastern North America and their present distribution in various regions exceeds that recorded in the original forests at the time of European settlement. The increase in oak during the late 18th and 19th centuries can be attributed to historical changes in disturbance regimes in the eastern biome. The expansion in oak distribution has occurred on xeric or nutrient-poor sites, which indicates the stress tolerance capabilities of many oak species. The aim of this research is to assess the health and productivity of the fragmented oak savannas that span from Texas north to the Canada border using statewide GAP, climate and MODIS data and the 3PGS (Physiological Principles Predicting Growth using satellite data) ecosystem process model. 3-PGS is a simple big-leaf productivity model that sets upper limits on monthly gross primary productivity (GPP) by determining the amount of photosynthetically active radiation absorbed (APAR) by vegetation and the photosynthetic capacity (LUE) of the canopy. The utilized portion of APAR is calculated by reducing total PAR by an amount determined by the most constraining of a series of environmental modifiers that affect gas exchange through stomata. These include: (a) high daytime atmospheric VPD; (b) soil water availability; and (c) the frequency of sub-freezing temperatures (<-2 °C). Climate data including day length, precipitation, average temperature and vapor pressure deficit are obtained from the Daymet daily gridded surface data from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The fraction of APAR is obtained from the MODIS terra/aqua combined product. Monthly surfaces were derived for the study period 2003-2008 spanning available MODIS and Climate datasets. Soil properties for the entire U.S.A., derived from luster analysis of STATSGO soil parameters, terrain and climate observations were obtained from ORNL. Oak savannas within this region are identified using the statewide Gap

  8. Ecosystem Journalism

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Robertson, Amy; Mahlin, Kathryn

    2005-01-01

    If the organisms in a prairie ecosystem created a newspaper, what would it look like? What important news topics of the ecosystem would the organisms want to discuss? Imaginative and enthusiastic third-grade students were busy pondering these questions as they tried their hands at "ecosystem journalism." The class had recently completed a study of…

  9. Ecosystem Jenga!

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Umphlett, Natalie; Brosius, Tierney; Laungani, Ramesh; Rousseau, Joe; Leslie-Pelecky, Diandra L.

    2009-01-01

    To give students a tangible model of an ecosystem and have them experience what could happen if a component of that ecosystem were removed; the authors developed a hands-on, inquiry-based activity that visually demonstrates the concept of a delicately balanced ecosystem through a modification of the popular game Jenga. This activity can be…

  10. Natural ecosystems

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Fleishman, Erica; Belnap, Jayne; Cobb, Neil; Enquist, Carolyn A.F.; Ford, Karl; MacDonald, Glen; Pellant, Mike; Schoennagel, Tania; Schmit, Lara M.; Schwartz, Mark; van Drunick, Suzanne; Westerling, Anthony LeRoy; Keyser, Alisa; Lucas, Ryan

    2013-01-01

    Natural Ecosystems analyzes the association of observed changes in climate with changes in the geographic distributions and phenology (the timing of blossoms or migrations of birds) for Southwestern ecosystems and their species, portraying ecosystem disturbances—such as wildfires and outbreaks of forest pathogens—and carbon storage and release, in relation to climate change.

  11. Cryptic herbivores mediate the strength and form of ungulate impacts on a long-lived savanna tree.

    PubMed

    Maclean, Janet E; Goheen, Jacob R; Doak, Daniel F; Palmer, Todd M; Young, Truman P

    2011-08-01

    Plant populations are regulated by a diverse array of herbivores that impose demographic filters throughout their life cycle. Few studies, however, simultaneously quantify the impacts of multiple herbivore guilds on the lifetime performance or population growth rate of plants. In African savannas, large ungulates (such as elephants) are widely regarded as important drivers of woody plant population dynamics, while the potential impacts of smaller, more cryptic herbivores (such as rodents) have largely been ignored. We combined a large-scale ungulate exclusion experiment with a five-year manipulation of rodent densities to quantify the impacts of three herbivore guilds (wild ungulates, domestic cattle, and rodents) on all life stages of a widespread savanna tree. We utilized demographic modeling to reveal the overall role of each guild in regulating tree population dynamics, and to elucidate the importance of different demographic hurdles in driving population growth under contrasting consumer communities. We found that wild ungulates dramatically reduced population growth, shifting the population trajectory from increase to decline, but that the mechanisms driving these effects were strongly mediated by rodents. The impact of wild ungulates on population growth was predominantly driven by their negative effect on tree reproduction when rodents were excluded, and on adult tree survival when rodents were present. By limiting seedling survival, rodents also reduced population growth; however, this effect was strongly dampened where wild ungulates were present. We suggest that these complex interactions between disparate consumer guilds can have important consequences for the population demography of long-lived species, and that the effects of a single consumer group are often likely to vary dramatically depending on the larger community in which interactions are embedded. PMID:21905429

  12. Cryptic herbivores mediate the strength and form of ungulate impacts on a long-lived savanna tree.

    PubMed

    Maclean, Janet E; Goheen, Jacob R; Doak, Daniel F; Palmer, Todd M; Young, Truman P

    2011-08-01

    Plant populations are regulated by a diverse array of herbivores that impose demographic filters throughout their life cycle. Few studies, however, simultaneously quantify the impacts of multiple herbivore guilds on the lifetime performance or population growth rate of plants. In African savannas, large ungulates (such as elephants) are widely regarded as important drivers of woody plant population dynamics, while the potential impacts of smaller, more cryptic herbivores (such as rodents) have largely been ignored. We combined a large-scale ungulate exclusion experiment with a five-year manipulation of rodent densities to quantify the impacts of three herbivore guilds (wild ungulates, domestic cattle, and rodents) on all life stages of a widespread savanna tree. We utilized demographic modeling to reveal the overall role of each guild in regulating tree population dynamics, and to elucidate the importance of different demographic hurdles in driving population growth under contrasting consumer communities. We found that wild ungulates dramatically reduced population growth, shifting the population trajectory from increase to decline, but that the mechanisms driving these effects were strongly mediated by rodents. The impact of wild ungulates on population growth was predominantly driven by their negative effect on tree reproduction when rodents were excluded, and on adult tree survival when rodents were present. By limiting seedling survival, rodents also reduced population growth; however, this effect was strongly dampened where wild ungulates were present. We suggest that these complex interactions between disparate consumer guilds can have important consequences for the population demography of long-lived species, and that the effects of a single consumer group are often likely to vary dramatically depending on the larger community in which interactions are embedded.

  13. Abandoned pastoral settlements provide concentrations of resources for savanna birds

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Söderström, Bo; Reid, Robin S.

    2010-03-01

    Knowledge is poor of how fertilization affects birds in grasslands. We investigated the impact on birds of abandoned pastoral settlements that historically received very high levels of livestock dung. A total of 28 abandoned settlements and 74 landscape controls - in Koyake Group Ranch and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya - were surveyed for birds during the wet and/or dry season. Our results showed that bird species richness and total abundance increased within 200 m of abandoned pastoral settlements, particularly during the dry season when foraging resources on the savanna are limited. The high concentrations of nutrients inside abandoned settlements favoured the abundance of Diptera and Coleoptera, as shown by invertebrate surveys performed during the dry season on a subset of 32 sites. Both total numbers and dry biomass of these two invertebrate orders were higher on abandoned settlements in comparison with the surrounding landscape. We conclude that higher fertilization levels cause a temporal and spatial redistribution of birds on the savanna. Livestock fertilization and bird abundance are probably linked through an increase in abundance of invertebrate food upon which birds feed in an opportunistic fashion.

  14. Ant plant herbivore interactions in the neotropical cerrado savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Oliveira, Paulo S.; Freitas, André V. L.

    2004-12-01

    The Brazilian cerrado savanna covers nearly 2 million km2 and has a high incidence on foliage of various liquid food sources such as extrafloral nectar and insect exudates. These liquid rewards generate intense ant activity on cerrado foliage, making ant plant herbivore interactions especially prevalent in this biome. We present data on the distribution and abundance of extrafloral nectaries in the woody flora of cerrado communities and in the flora of other habitats worldwide, and stress the relevance of liquid food sources (including hemipteran honeydew) for the ant fauna. Consumption by ants of plant and insect exudates significantly affects the activity of the associated herbivores of cerrado plant species, with varying impacts on the reproductive output of the plants. Experiments with an ant plant butterfly system unequivocally demonstrate that the behavior of both immature and adult lepidopterans is closely related to the use of a risky host plant, where intensive visitation by ants can have a severe impact on caterpillar survival. We discuss recent evidence suggesting that the occurrence of liquid rewards on leaves plays a key role in mediating the foraging ecology of foliage-dwelling ants, and that facultative ant plant mutualisms are important in structuring the community of canopy arthropods. Ant-mediated effects on cerrado herbivore communities can be revealed by experiments performed on wide spatial scales, including many environmental factors such as soil fertility and vegetation structure. We also present some research questions that could be rewarding to investigate in this major neotropical savanna.

  15. Modelling fire frequency in a Cerrado savanna protected area.

    PubMed

    Pereira Júnior, Alfredo C; Oliveira, Sofia L J; Pereira, José M C; Turkman, Maria Antónia Amaral

    2014-01-01

    Covering almost a quarter of Brazil, the Cerrado is the world's most biologically rich tropical savanna. Fire is an integral part of the Cerrado but current land use and agricultural practices have been changing fire regimes, with undesirable consequences for the preservation of biodiversity. In this study, fire frequency and fire return intervals were modelled over a 12-year time series (1997-2008) for the Jalapão State Park, a protected area in the north of the Cerrado, based on burned area maps derived from Landsat imagery. Burned areas were classified using object based image analysis. Fire data were modelled with the discrete lognormal model and the estimated parameters were used to calculate fire interval, fire survival and hazard of burning distributions, for seven major land cover types. Over the study period, an area equivalent to four times the size of Jalapão State Park burned and the mean annual area burned was 34%. Median fire intervals were generally short, ranging from three to six years. Shrub savannas had the shortest fire intervals, and dense woodlands the longest. Because fires in the Cerrado are strongly responsive to fuel age in the first three to four years following a fire, early dry season patch mosaic burning may be used to reduce the extent of area burned and the severity of fire effects. PMID:25054540

  16. [Anatomical and nutrient features of plant leaves in Yuanjiang savanna valley].

    PubMed

    Song, Fuqiang; Cao, Kunfang

    2005-01-01

    Due to rain shadow effect, the valleys in southwestern China mountainous areas have hot and dry climate, and savanna or semi-savanna vegetations occur on the slopes of these valleys. Yuanjiang dry-hot valley is such a valley, which has a distinct dry season of about six months from November to next April. This paper studied the anatomical and nutrient features of the leaves of twenty plant species, including those on upland soils and hilly slopes. The results showed that compared with the species on upland soil and the rain forest, the leaves of the plants from savanna showed more xeromorphic features, such as thicker leaf thickness, greater leaf mass per area (LMA), smaller ratios of spongy/palisade tissues (S:P) and higher stomatal density (SD), which mainly came from the more severe drought in Yuanjiang savanna valley. Seven plant species in the savanna valley showed a shortage of nutrients in their leaves, and the leaf nutrient content was in order of 1.3% > Ca > N > K > 1% > Mg > P > S. Savanna had lower leaf mineral element concentrations than rain forest, but higher than other dry forests, including Asian heath forest and Bana forest. The differences in leaf nutrient concentrations between Yuanjiang valley savanna and other dry forests were mainly ascribed to the difference of soil nutrient contents, while those between valley savanna and rainforest were largely determined by the different plant biology. It could be concluded that the leaves of plant species in Yuanjiang savanna valley not only had obvious xeromorphic features, but also were deficit in nutrients. PMID:15852953

  17. [Anatomical and nutrient features of plant leaves in Yuanjiang savanna valley].

    PubMed

    Song, Fuqiang; Cao, Kunfang

    2005-01-01

    Due to rain shadow effect, the valleys in southwestern China mountainous areas have hot and dry climate, and savanna or semi-savanna vegetations occur on the slopes of these valleys. Yuanjiang dry-hot valley is such a valley, which has a distinct dry season of about six months from November to next April. This paper studied the anatomical and nutrient features of the leaves of twenty plant species, including those on upland soils and hilly slopes. The results showed that compared with the species on upland soil and the rain forest, the leaves of the plants from savanna showed more xeromorphic features, such as thicker leaf thickness, greater leaf mass per area (LMA), smaller ratios of spongy/palisade tissues (S:P) and higher stomatal density (SD), which mainly came from the more severe drought in Yuanjiang savanna valley. Seven plant species in the savanna valley showed a shortage of nutrients in their leaves, and the leaf nutrient content was in order of 1.3% > Ca > N > K > 1% > Mg > P > S. Savanna had lower leaf mineral element concentrations than rain forest, but higher than other dry forests, including Asian heath forest and Bana forest. The differences in leaf nutrient concentrations between Yuanjiang valley savanna and other dry forests were mainly ascribed to the difference of soil nutrient contents, while those between valley savanna and rainforest were largely determined by the different plant biology. It could be concluded that the leaves of plant species in Yuanjiang savanna valley not only had obvious xeromorphic features, but also were deficit in nutrients.

  18. Seasonal Variations in Carbon, Water and Energy Fluxes in an Oak/Grass Savanna and in Photosynthetic Capacity of Oak Leaf in California

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Xu, L.; Baldocchi, D.

    2002-12-01

    We present the results of measurements on flux and ecophysiology from two co-existing Ameriflux sites, a grazed annual grassland site and an oak/grass savanna site, located at the foothill of Sierra Nevada in California. The two sites are about 2 km apart, and have a Mediterranean climate with wet, cold winter and dry, hot summer. The predominant tree species is blue oak (Quercus douglasii) and grasses are C3 species. The main objective of the study is to investigate the roles of high temperature, soil moisture and plant functional type on the carbon, water vapor and energy exchanges between ecosystems and atmosphere. Continuous measurements of carbon and water vapor fluxes over and under the oak/grass savanna ecosystem started in April 2001 and over the annual grassland ecosystem in October 2000. Meteorological and soil parameters (air temperature, radiation, VPD, precipitation, soil moisture etc.) were also measured. Grass leaf area index (LAI), predawn water potential and gas exchange (A/Ci curve) of oak leaf were measured at 1-2 weeks intervals. The annual grass germinates in late Oct after receiving a substantial rainfall and senesces in early May due to the soil drought development. Flux results show that daytime carbon uptake and latent heat flux (LE) at the grassland and understory of the savanna followed closely grass LAI, which in turn was controlled by soil moisture content. Nighttime ecosystem respiration was found to track closely to the daytime photosynthetic rate, indicating the importance of photosynthetic assimilates allocation for respiration. During the dry summer, when the grass was dead, virtually all the available energy was partitioned into sensible heat (H). Small positive values of FCO2 were observed. We also observed large pulse ecosystem respiration after rain events during non-growing season. In our ecosystems with very low NEP, such rain events might be one of major environment forcings that cause larger inter-annual variability in NEE

  19. Ecosystem experiments

    SciTech Connect

    Mooney, H.A.; Medina, E.; Schindler, D.W.; Schulze, E.D.; Walker, B.H.

    1991-01-01

    Large scale, human-induced modifications to terrestrial and hydrological systems have been a major factor in contributing to global change. The objective of this book is to explore the potential of ecosystem experimentation as a tool to understanding and predicting more precisely the consequences of our changing biosphere. The papers in this book are the result of two SCOPE workshops to evaluated understanding of the response of ecosystems to large scale perturbations and to design ecosystem experiments to study the impace of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations on ecosystem processes. The general topics addressed include the following: how changes in driving variables affect different biotic interactions within ecosystems; the human role in modifying forest structure and the resulting ecosystem processes; the role of ecosystem experiments in the study of controlling factors such as hydrological controls, temperature, and biotic controlles; analysis of ecosystem dynamics as a complex and chaotic system; role of ecosystem experiments in the study of the impact of acid deposition; role of ecosystem experimentation in the study of global change impace on the biosphere and the biospheric feedbacks to global environmental change.

  20. Effects of past climate variability on fire and vegetation in the cerrãdo savanna of the Huanchaca Mesetta, NE Bolivia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Maezumi, S. Y.; Power, M. J.; Mayle, F. E.; McLauchlan, K. K.; Iriarte, J.

    2015-06-01

    . Natural (soil, climate, fire) drivers rather than anthropogenic drivers control the vegetation and fire activity at Huanchaca Mesetta. Thus the cerrãdo savanna ecosystem of the Huanchaca Plateau has exhibited ecosystem resilience to major climatic changes in both temperature and precipitation since the Lateglacial period.

  1. Developing Remote Sensing Methodology to Characterize Savanna Vegetation Structure and Composition for Rangeland Monitoring and Conservation Applications

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tsalyuk, M.; Kelly, M.; Getz, W.

    2012-12-01

    Rangeland ecosystems cover more than fifty percent of earth's land surface, host considerable biodiversity and provide vital ecosystem services. However, rangelands around the world face degradation due to climate change, land use change and overgrazing. Human-driven changes to fire and grazing regimes enhance degradation processes. The purpose of this research is to develop a remote sensing methodology to characterize the structure and composition of savanna vegetation, in order to improve the ability of conservation managers to monitor and address such degradation processes. Our study site, Etosha National Park, is a 22,270 km^2 semi-arid savanna located in north-central Namibia. Fencing and provision of artificial water sources for wildlife have changed the natural grazing patterns, which has caused bush encroachment and vegetation degradation across the park. We used MODIS and Landsat ETM+ 7 satellite imagery to map the vegetation type, dominant species, density, cover and biomass of herbaceous and woody vegetation in Etosha. We used imagery for 2007-2012 together with extensive field sampling, both in the wet and the dry seasons. At each sampling point, we identified the dominant species and measured the density, canopy size, height and diameter of the trees and shrubs. At only 31% of the sampling points, the identified vegetation type matched the class assigned at the 1996 classification. This may indicate significant habitat modifications in Etosha. We used two parallel analytical approaches to correlate between radiometric and field data. First, we show that traditional supervised classification identifies well five classes: bare soil, grassland, steppe, shrub savanna and tree savanna. We then refined this classification to enable us to identify the species composition in an area utilizing the phenological differences in timing and duration of greenness of the dominant tree and shrub species in Etosha. Specifically, using multi-date images we were able to

  2. Sensitivity of Prosopis velutina to Summer Rainfall and Consequences for Seasonal Patterns of Ecosystem Carbon Exchange

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Potts, D. L.; Cable, J. M.; Scott, R. L.; Williams, D. G.; Goodrich, D. C.; Huxman, T. E.

    2005-12-01

    Future changes in dryland vegetation composition will interact with climate variability to influence carbon and water cycling in unforeseen ways. Observed increases in the density of woody plants in North America's savanna ecosystems may be an important terrestrial carbon sink and could alter patterns of regional hydrologic cycling. During the 2005 growing season we compared seasonal patterns of Prosopis velutina plant water status and leaf gas exchange in upland and riparian savannas. Previous work suggested the plant size class constrained alluvial groundwater access and that mature individuals were less sensitive to the onset of summer rains at the riparian site. We predicted that at the upland site, where groundwater was unavailable, mature and juvenile plants would respond similarly to the onset of summer rains. Furthermore, we predicted that this increased sensitivity by the dominant vegetation to seasonal rainfall would be reflected in NEE data collected by eddy-covariance at both sites. Results indicate that mesquite performance and the duration and magnitude of ecosystem carbon exchanges are tightly linked to precipitation at the upland site. Comparing upland and riparian sites demonstrates how seasonal pattern of precipitation, plant-available alluvial groundwater and vegetation structure interact to govern ecosystem carbon balance in savanna ecosystems.

  3. Histochemical enzyme variation in Onchocerca volvulus microfilariae from rain-forest and Sudan-savanna areas of the Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa.

    PubMed

    Omar, M S; Prost, A; Marshall, T F

    1982-01-01

    Histochemical staining methods for acid phosphatase were used to study the differences among microfilariae of various West African strains of Onchocerca volvulus in both forest and Sudan-savanna onchocerciasis zones. The results have shown statistically significant differences in the staining patterns of microfilarial populations in the two zones. In the rain-forest areas, where onchocerciasis is transmitted by Simulium yahense, S. sanctipauli, S. soubrense and S. squamosum, there were no significant differences of microfilarial staining patterns in patients, by age and sex, between the three Simulium-Onchocerca complexes studied. There was a close relationship between the "strain differences", as revealed morphoenzymatically, and the clinical picture of the disease in both the forest and the Sudan-savanna zones. The present findings are in favour of the hypothesis that there are intrinsic differences in the strains of the parasite occurring in the two areas. The application of the histochemical means of parasite characterization appears to be a useful tool in differentiating strains of O. volvulus and could contribute towards a better understanding of the epidemiology of human onchocerciasis in different bioclimatic zones where the disease is endemic.

  4. Impacts of large herbivorous mammals on bird diversity and abundance in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Ogada, D L; Gadd, M E; Ostfeld, R S; Young, T P; Keesing, F

    2008-05-01

    Large native mammals are declining dramatically in abundance across Africa, with strong impacts on both plant and animal community dynamics. However, the net effects of this large-scale loss in megafauna are poorly understood because responses by several ecologically important groups have not been assessed. We used a large-scale, replicated exclusion experiment in Kenya to investigate the impacts of different guilds of native and domestic large herbivores on the diversity and abundance of birds over a 2-year period. The exclusion of large herbivorous native mammals, including zebras (Equus burchelli), giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis), elephants (Loxodonta africana), and buffalos (Syncerus caffer), increased the diversity of birds by 30%. Most of this effect was attributable to the absence of elephants and giraffes; these megaherbivores reduced both the canopy area of subdominant woody vegetation and the biomass of ground-dwelling arthropods, and both of these factors were good predictors of the diversity of birds. The canopy area of subdominant trees was positively correlated with the diversity of granivorous birds. The biomass of ground-dwelling arthropods was positively correlated with the diversity of insectivorous birds. Our results suggest that most native large herbivores are compatible with an abundant and diverse bird fauna, as are cattle if they are at a relatively low stocking rate. Future research should focus on determining the spatial arrangements and densities of megaherbivores that will optimize both megaherbivore abundance and bird diversity.

  5. Hydraulic redistribution study in two native tree species of agroforestry parklands of West African dry savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bayala, Jules; Heng, Lee Kheng; van Noordwijk, Meine; Ouedraogo, Sibiri Jean

    2008-11-01

    Hydraulic redistribution (HR) in karité ( Vitellaria paradoxa) and néré ( Parkia biglobosa) tree species was studied by monitoring the soil water potential ( ψs) using thermocouple psychrometers at four compass directions, various distances from trees and at different soil depths (max depth 80 cm) during the dry seasons of 2004 and 2005. A modified WaNuLCAS model was then used to infer the amount of water redistribued based on ψs values. Tree transpiration rate was also estimated from sap velocity using thermal dissipative probes (TDP) and sapwood area, and the contribution of hydraulically redistributed water in tree transpiration was determined. The results revealed on average that 46% of the psychrometer readings under karité and 33% under néré showed the occurrence of HR for the two years. Soil under néré displayed significantly lower fluctuations of ψs (0.16 MPa) compared to soil under karité (0.21 MPa). The results of this study indicated that the existence of HR leads to a higher ψs in the plant rhizosphere and hence is important for soil water dynamics and plant nutrition by making more accessible the soluble elements. The simulation showed that the amount of water redistributed would be approximately 73.0 L and 247.1 L per tree per day in 2005 for karité and néré, and would represent respectively 60% and 53% of the amount transpired a day. Even though the model has certainly overestimated the volume of water hydraulically redistributed by the two species, this water may play a key role in maintaining fine root viability and ensuring the well adaptation of these species to the dry areas. Therefore, knowledge of the extent of such transfers and of the seasonal patterns is required and is of paramount importance in parkland systems both for trees and associated crops.

  6. Reflectance properties of West African savanna trees from ground radiometer measurements. II - Classification of components

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Hanan, N. P.; Prince, S. D.; Franklin, J.

    1993-01-01

    A pole-mounted radiometer was used to measure the reflectance properties in the red and near-IR of three Sahelian tree species. These properties are classified depending on their location over the canopy. A geometrical description of the patterns of shadow and sunlight on and beneath a model tree when viewed from above is given, and six components are defined. Tree canopies are found to be dark in the red waveband with respect to the soil, but have little or no effect on the near-IR.

  7. Secondary metabolites and nutrients of woody plants in relation to browsing intensity in African savannas.

    PubMed

    Scogings, Peter F; Hjältén, Joakim; Skarpe, Christina

    2011-12-01

    Carbon-based secondary metabolites (CBSMs) are assumed to function as defences that contribute to herbivore-avoidance strategies of woody plants. Severe browsing has been reported to reduce concentrations of CBSMs and increase N concentrations in individual plants, causing heavily browsed plants to be characterised by N-rich/C-poor tissues. We hypothesised that concentrations of condensed tannins (CT) and total polyphenols (TP) should decrease, or N increase, in relation to increasing intensity of browsing, rendering severely browsed plants potentially more palatable (increased N:CT) and less N-limited (increased N:P) than lightly browsed ones. We sampled naturally browsed trees (taller than 2 m) of four abundant species in southern Kruger National Park, South Africa. Species-specific relationships between N:CT, CT, TP and P concentrations and increasing browsing intensity were detected, but N and N:P were consistently invariable. We developed a conceptual post-hoc model to explain diverse species-specific CBSM responses on the basis of relative allocation of C to total C-based defence traits (e.g. spines/thorns, tough/evergreen leaves, phenolic compounds). The model suggests that species with low allocation of C to C-based defence traits become C-limited (potentially more palatable) at higher browsing intensity than species with high allocation of C to C-based defences. The model also suggests that when N availability is high, plants become C-limited at higher browsing intensity than when N availability is low. PMID:21660581

  8. The partitioning of water uptake between growth forms in a Neotropical savanna: do herbs exploit a third water source niche?

    PubMed

    Rossatto, D R; da Silveira Lobo Sternberg, L; Franco, A C

    2013-01-01

    In addition to trees and grasses, the savannas of central Brazil are characterised by a diverse herbaceous dicot flora. Here we tested whether the coexistence of a highly diversified assemblage of species resulted in stratification or strong overlap in the use of soil water resources. We measured oxygen and hydrogen isotope ratios of stem water from herbs, grasses and trees growing side by side, as well as the isotopic composition of water in soil profile, groundwater and rainfall, and predawn (Ψ(pd)) and midday (Ψ(md)) leaf water potentials. We used a stable isotope mixing model to estimate vertical partitioning of soil water by the three growth forms. Grasses relied on shallow soil water (5-50 cm) and were strongly anisohydric. Ψ(pd) and Ψ(md) decreased significantly from the wet to the dry season. Trees extracted water from deeper regions of the soil profile (60-120 cm) and were isohydric. Ψ(pd) and Ψ(md) did not change from the wet to the dry season. Herbs overlapped with grasses in patterns of water extraction in the dry season (between 10 and 40 cm), but they took up water at soil depths intermediate (70-100 cm) to those of trees and grasses during the wet season. They showed seasonal changes in Ψ(pd) but not in Ψ(md). We conclude that vertical partitioning of soil water may have contributed to coexistence of these three growth forms and resulted in a more complex pattern of soil water extraction than the two-compartment model of soil water uptake currently used to explain the structure and function of tropical savanna ecosystems. PMID:22672316

  9. Methane production from mixed tropical savanna and forest vegetation in Venezuela

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Crutzen, P. J.; Sanhueza, E.; Brenninkmeijer, C. A. M.

    2006-04-01

    Measurements of methane concentrations in the boundary layer in the northern part of the Guayana shield, Venezuela, during the wet season (October 1988), showed the presence of substantial methane surface emissions. The measuring site is within the savanna climate region, but is affected by emissions from savanna and forest vegetation. From day versus night concentration measurements, with higher concentrations during night, a methane source strength near the site of 3-7×1011 molecules/cm2/s can be estimated, which includes emissions from small tracts of flooded soils, termites and especially tropical vegetation. Extrapolated to the entire savanna, this may imply a methane source of ~30-60 Tg yr-1 similar to the one calculated for tropical vegetation on the basis of recently published in vitro plant emission experiments by Keppler et al. (2006), which indicate emissions of ~30 Tg yr-1 for tropical savannas and grasslands and ~78 Tg yr-1 for tropical forests.

  10. Sleeping site selection by savanna chimpanzees in Ugalla, Tanzania.

    PubMed

    Ogawa, Hideshi; Yoshikawa, Midori; Idani, Gen'ichi

    2014-04-01

    We examined sleeping site selection by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in the Ugalla savanna woodland area, western Tanzania, from 1994 to 2012. We established 488 km of line transects and recorded 379 chimpanzee beds within 30 m perpendicular to the transects. Comparisons between 60 × 60 m(2) quadrats containing new and recent beds and the remaining quadrats without beds along the transects indicated that evergreen forests accounted for disproportionately more area in quadrats with beds than in those without beds during both the dry and rainy seasons. In Ugalla, chimpanzees coexist with lions (Panthera leo) and leopards (Panthera pardus). They may sleep in forests to reduce predation risk by these carnivores, as trees are dense and the canopy is high and closed. The angle of slope was steeper in quadrats containing beds than in those without beds during the dry season, whereas the angle was less steep in quadrats with beds than in those without beds during the rainy season. Additionally, fewer beds were found further from forests. The distance between beds and forests during the dry season was shorter than that during the rainy season. Chimpanzees may sleep in or near forests and on slopes because of water pools in the valley forests along the slopes during the dry season. Quadrats with beds were at slightly higher altitude than those without beds during the rainy season; however, the difference was not significant during the dry season. The number of beds found in or close to feeding trees was not related to the fruiting period. Sleeping site selection by chimpanzees may be affected by predation pressure and water availability in the savanna woodland area.

  11. Distinctiveness, use, and value of midwestern oak savannas and woodlands as avian habitats

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Grundel, R.; Pavlovic, N.B.

    2007-01-01

    Oak savannas and woodlands historically covered millions of hectares in the midwestern United States but are rare today. We evaluated the ecological distinctiveness and conservation value of savannas and woodlands by examining bird distributions across a fire-maintained woody-vegetation gradient in northwest Indiana encompassing five habitats—open habitats with low canopy cover, savannas, woodlands, scrublands, and forests—during migration, breeding, and overwintering. Savannas and woodlands were significantly different in overall bird species composition from open and forest habitats but were often intermediate between open and forest in guild densities. Few bird species were consistently and highly concentrated in savannas or woodlands, and the Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) was the only species significantly more abundant in savannas and woodlands than in open, scrub, and forest habitats. Fire frequency over a 15-year interval was a significant predictor of bird community composition and was positively related to species diversity, spring transient migrant density, and density of the most threatened species. Each habitat type had characteristics potentially important for avian conservation. Scrub had the highest density of transient migrants, which suggests it plays an important role as migration stopover habitat. More species were significantly concentrated in open or forest habitats than in the other habitats. Lack of species concentration and intermediate community composition suggested that birds experienced savannas and woodlands more as ecotones than as habitats distinct from forests or grasslands. However, this intermediate character can benefit conservation, as evidenced by savannas and woodlands having the highest density of the most threatened species along this woody-vegetation gradient.

  12. Are there consistent grazing indicators in Drylands? Testing plant functional types of various complexity in South Africa's Grassland and Savanna Biomes.

    PubMed

    Linstädter, Anja; Schellberg, Jürgen; Brüser, Katharina; Moreno García, Cristian A; Oomen, Roelof J; du Preez, Chris C; Ruppert, Jan C; Ewert, Frank

    2014-01-01

    Despite our growing knowledge on plants' functional responses to grazing, there is no consensus if an optimum level of functional aggregation exists for detecting grazing effects in drylands. With a comparative approach we searched for plant functional types (PFTs) with a consistent response to grazing across two areas differing in climatic aridity, situated in South Africa's grassland and savanna biomes. We aggregated herbaceous species into PFTs, using hierarchical combinations of traits (from single- to three-trait PFTs). Traits relate to life history, growth form and leaf width. We first confirmed that soil and grazing gradients were largely independent from each other, and then searched in each biome for PFTs with a sensitive response to grazing, avoiding confounding with soil conditions. We found no response consistency, but biome-specific optimum aggregation levels. Three-trait PFTs (e.g. broad-leaved perennial grasses) and two-trait PFTs (e.g. perennial grasses) performed best as indicators of grazing effects in the semi-arid grassland and in the arid savanna biome, respectively. Some PFTs increased with grazing pressure in the grassland, but decreased in the savanna. We applied biome-specific grazing indicators to evaluate if differences in grazing management related to land tenure (communal versus freehold) had effects on vegetation. Tenure effects were small, which we mainly attributed to large variability in grazing pressure across farms. We conclude that the striking lack of generalizable PFT responses to grazing is due to a convergence of aridity and grazing effects, and unlikely to be overcome by more refined classification approaches. Hence, PFTs with an opposite response to grazing in the two biomes rather have a unimodal response along a gradient of additive forces of aridity and grazing. The study advocates for hierarchical trait combinations to identify localized indicator sets for grazing effects. Its methodological approach may also be useful

  13. Are there consistent grazing indicators in Drylands? Testing plant functional types of various complexity in South Africa's Grassland and Savanna Biomes.

    PubMed

    Linstädter, Anja; Schellberg, Jürgen; Brüser, Katharina; Moreno García, Cristian A; Oomen, Roelof J; du Preez, Chris C; Ruppert, Jan C; Ewert, Frank

    2014-01-01

    Despite our growing knowledge on plants' functional responses to grazing, there is no consensus if an optimum level of functional aggregation exists for detecting grazing effects in drylands. With a comparative approach we searched for plant functional types (PFTs) with a consistent response to grazing across two areas differing in climatic aridity, situated in South Africa's grassland and savanna biomes. We aggregated herbaceous species into PFTs, using hierarchical combinations of traits (from single- to three-trait PFTs). Traits relate to life history, growth form and leaf width. We first confirmed that soil and grazing gradients were largely independent from each other, and then searched in each biome for PFTs with a sensitive response to grazing, avoiding confounding with soil conditions. We found no response consistency, but biome-specific optimum aggregation levels. Three-trait PFTs (e.g. broad-leaved perennial grasses) and two-trait PFTs (e.g. perennial grasses) performed best as indicators of grazing effects in the semi-arid grassland and in the arid savanna biome, respectively. Some PFTs increased with grazing pressure in the grassland, but decreased in the savanna. We applied biome-specific grazing indicators to evaluate if differences in grazing management related to land tenure (communal versus freehold) had effects on vegetation. Tenure effects were small, which we mainly attributed to large variability in grazing pressure across farms. We conclude that the striking lack of generalizable PFT responses to grazing is due to a convergence of aridity and grazing effects, and unlikely to be overcome by more refined classification approaches. Hence, PFTs with an opposite response to grazing in the two biomes rather have a unimodal response along a gradient of additive forces of aridity and grazing. The study advocates for hierarchical trait combinations to identify localized indicator sets for grazing effects. Its methodological approach may also be useful

  14. Hydraulic lift as a determinant of tree-grass coexistence on savannas.

    PubMed

    Yu, Kailiang; D'Odorico, Paolo

    2015-09-01

    The coexistence of woody plants and grasses in savannas is determined by a complex set of interacting factors that determine access to resources and demographic dynamics, under the control of external drivers and vegetation feedbacks with the physical environment. Existing theories explain coexistence mainly as an effect of competitive relations and/or disturbances. However, theoretical studies on the way facilitative interactions resulting from hydraulic lift affect tree-grass coexistence and the range of environmental conditions in which savannas are stable are still lacking. We investigated the role of hydraulic lift in the stability of tree-grass coexistence in savannas. To that end, we developed a new mechanistic model that accounts for both competition for soil water in the shallow soil and fire-induced disturbance. We found that hydraulic lift favors grasses, which scavenge the water lifted by woody plants. Thus, hydraulic lift expands (at the expenses of woodlands) the range of environmental conditions in which savannas are stable. These results indicate that hydraulic lift can be an important mechanism responsible for the coexistence of woody plants and grasses in savannas. Grass facilitation by trees through the process of hydraulic lift could allow savannas to persist stably in mesic regions that would otherwise exhibit a forest cover. PMID:25925655

  15. Hydraulic lift as a determinant of tree-grass coexistence on savannas.

    PubMed

    Yu, Kailiang; D'Odorico, Paolo

    2015-09-01

    The coexistence of woody plants and grasses in savannas is determined by a complex set of interacting factors that determine access to resources and demographic dynamics, under the control of external drivers and vegetation feedbacks with the physical environment. Existing theories explain coexistence mainly as an effect of competitive relations and/or disturbances. However, theoretical studies on the way facilitative interactions resulting from hydraulic lift affect tree-grass coexistence and the range of environmental conditions in which savannas are stable are still lacking. We investigated the role of hydraulic lift in the stability of tree-grass coexistence in savannas. To that end, we developed a new mechanistic model that accounts for both competition for soil water in the shallow soil and fire-induced disturbance. We found that hydraulic lift favors grasses, which scavenge the water lifted by woody plants. Thus, hydraulic lift expands (at the expenses of woodlands) the range of environmental conditions in which savannas are stable. These results indicate that hydraulic lift can be an important mechanism responsible for the coexistence of woody plants and grasses in savannas. Grass facilitation by trees through the process of hydraulic lift could allow savannas to persist stably in mesic regions that would otherwise exhibit a forest cover.

  16. AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS,

    EPA Science Inventory

    Aquatic ecosystems are a vital part of the urban water cycle (and of urban areas more broadly), and, if healthy, provide a range of goods and services valued by humans (Meyer 1997). For example, aquatic ecosystems (e.g., rivers, lakes, wetlands) provide potable water, food resou...

  17. Coarse root distribution of a semi-arid oak savanna estimated with ground penetrating radar

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Raz-Yaseef, N.; Koteen, L. E.; Baldocchi, D. D.

    2013-05-01

    Coarse root distribution of a semi-arid oak savanna estimated with ground penetrating radar North California enjoys wet and mild winters, but experiences extreme hot, dry summer conditions, with occasional drought years. Despite the severity of summer conditions, blue oaks in this ecosystem are winter-deciduous. Water uptake from groundwater helps explain the incongruity of tree growth with soil water availability in this ecosystem. We hypothesized that the binary nature of water availability, in which water is either abundantly available or scarce, would be reflected in blue oak root architecture. The objective of this research was to understand how the form of the root system facilitates ecosystem functioning. To do this, we sought to characterize the structure of the root system, and survey coarse root distribution with ground penetrating radar (GPR), due to its advantages in covering large areas rapidly and non-destructively. Because GPR remains a relatively new technology for examining root distribution, an ancillary objective was to test this methodology, and help facilitate its application more broadly. We used a GPR Noggin1000 SmartTow (Sensors and Software Inc., Ontario, Canada) 1 GHz configuration. In order to best represent the diversity of tree size and age found at the field site, we surveyed six 8x8 m locations with trees varying in size, age and clumping (i.e. isolated trees vs. tree clusters). GPR raw data was processed with designated software in order to construct three-dimensional values of radar reflection intensity for each surveyed grid. Radar signals were transformed to root biomass by calibrating them against excavated roots in twelve 60x100 cm pits. Our results indicate that coarse roots occupy the full soil profile, and that root biomass of old large trees peaks just above the bedrock. As opposed to other semi-arid regions, where trees often develop extensive shallow coarse lateral roots, in order to exploit the entire wet-soil medium, we

  18. Aerosols and their influence on radiation partitioning and savanna productivity in northern Australia

    SciTech Connect

    Kanniah, K. D.; Beringer, J.; Tapper, N. J.; Long, Charles N.

    2010-05-01

    We investigated the effect of aerosols and clouds on the Net Ecosystem Productivity (NEP) of savannas in northern Australia using aerosol optical depth, clouds and radiation data from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) site in Darwin and carbon flux data measured from eddy covariance techniques from a site at Howard Springs, 35km southeast of Darwin. Generally we found that the concentration of aerosols in this region was relatively low than observed at other sites, therefore the proportion of diffuse radiation reaching the earths surface was only ~ 30%. As a result, we observed only a modest change in carbon uptake under aerosol laden skies and there was no significant difference for dry season Radiation Use Efficiency (RUE) between clear sky, aerosols or thin clouds. On the other hand thick clouds in the wet season produce much more diffuse radiation than aerosols or thin clouds and therefore the initial canopy quantum efficiency was seen to increase 45 and 2.5 times more than under thin clouds and aerosols respectively. The normalized carbon uptake under thick clouds is 57% and 50% higher than under aerosols and thin clouds respectively even though the total irradiance received under thick clouds was reduced 59% and 50% than under aerosols and thin clouds respectively. However, reduction in total irradiance decreases the mean absolute carbon uptake as much as 22% under heavy cloud cover compared to thin clouds or aerosols. Thus, any increase in aerosol concentration or cloud cover that can enhance the diffuse component may have large impacts on productivity in this region.

  19. An African-Centred Approach to Land Education

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Engel-Di Mauro, Salvatore; Carroll, Karanja Keita

    2014-01-01

    Approaches to environmental education which are engaging with place and critical pedagogy have not yet broadly engaged with the African world and insights from Africana Studies and Geography. An African-centred approach facilitates people's reconnection to places and ecosystems in ways that do not reduce places to objects of conquest and…

  20. Seasonality of Overstory and Understory Fluxes in a Semi-Arid Oak Savanna: What can be Learned from Comparing Measured and Modeled Fluxes?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Raz-Yaseef, N.; Sonnentag, O.; Kobayashi, H.; Chen, J. M.; Verfaillie, J. G.; Ma, S.; Baldocchi, D. D.

    2011-12-01

    Semi-arid climates experience large seasonal and inter-annual variability in radiation and precipitation, creating natural conditions adequate to study how year-to-year changes affect atmosphere-biosphere fluxes. Especially, savanna ecosystems, that combine tree and below-canopy components, create a unique environment in which phenology dramatically changes between seasons. We used a 10-year flux database in order to define seasonal and interannual variability of climatic inputs and fluxes, and evaluate model capability to reproduce observed variability. This is based on the perception that model capability to construct the deviation, and not the average, is important in order to correctly predict ecosystem sensitivity to climate change. Our research site is a low density and low LAI (0.8) semi-arid savanna, located at Tonzi Ranch, Northern California. In this system, trees are active during the warm season (Mar - Oct), and grasses are active during the wet season (Dec - May). Measurements of carbon and water fluxes above and below the tree canopy using eddy covariance and supplementary measurements have been made since 2001. Fluxes were simulated using bio-meteorological process-oriented ecosystem models: BEPS and 3D-CAONAK. Models were partly capable of reproducing fluxes on daily scales (R2=0.66). We then compared model outputs for different ecosystem components and seasons, and found distinct seasons with high correlations while other seasons were purely represented. Comparison was much higher for ET than for GPP. The understory was better simulated than the overstory. CANOAK overestimated spring understory fluxes, probably due to the capability to directly calculated 3D radiative transfer. BEPS underestimated spring understory fluxes, following the pre-description of grass die-off. Both models underestimated peak spring overstory fluxes. During winter tree dormant, modeled fluxes were null, but occasional high fluxes of both ET and GPP were measured following

  1. Spatial Heterogeneity of Fine Root Biomass and Soil Carbon in a California Oak Savanna Illuminates Plant Functional Strategy Across Periods of High and Low Resource Supply

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Koteen, L. E.; Raz Yaseef, N.; Baldocchi, D. D.

    2014-12-01

    We sampled isolated trees and tree clusters from a blue oak, Quercus douglasii, savanna in California USA to determine the spatial heterogeneity of fine root biomass and soil carbon across the landscape as a function of tree size, age and configuration. Our goal was to understand how fine root structure enables sustained ecosystem metabolism through a summer of very limited moisture availability and high heat, and facilitates resource acquisition during the short spring period of high resource supply. An additional goal was to provide a basis for upscaling root biomass and soil carbon to the landscape scale. We sampled trees of different size and tree clusters via a stratified sampling scheme that accounted for spatial heterogeneity in root biomass and soil carbon with lateral distance from the tree bole, or cluster center, and soil depth. We upscaled these estimates using site-specific information from a lidar survey conducted in the same region over a 36 ha area in 2009. We found that fine roots and soil carbon are spatially heterogeneous in their landscape distribution in oak savanna habitat, and that they greatly increase with tree size and age. We also found that Q. douglasii possesses a dimorphic fine root architecture, uniquely suited to the region's climatic constraints, and exhibits morphological plasticity among trees of different size, age, and physical setting.

  2. Late Glacial Tropical Savannas in Sundaland Inferred From Stable Carbon Isotope Records of Cave Guano

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wurster, C. M.; Bird, M. I.; Bull, I.; Dungait, J.; Bryant, C. L.; Ertunç, T.; Hunt, C.; Lewis, H. A.; Paz, V.

    2008-12-01

    During the Last Glacial Period (LGP), reduced global sea level exposed the continental shelf south of Thailand to Sumatra, Java, and Borneo to form the contiguous continent of Sundaland. However, the type and extent of vegetation that existed on much of this exposed landmass during the LGP remains speculative. Extensive bird and bat guano deposits in caves throughout this region span beyond 40,000 yr BP, and contain a wealth of untapped stratigraphic palaeoenvironmental information. Stable carbon isotope ratios of insectivorous bird and bat guano contain a reliable record of the animal's diet and, through non-specific insect predation, reflect the relative abundance of major physiological pathways in plants. Various physiological pathways of carbon fixation in plants yield differing stable carbon isotope ratios. Stable carbon isotope values of C3 plants are lower than C4 vegetation due to different enzymatic discriminations of the heavy isotope through the carbon fixing pathways. In tropical locales, grasses nearly always follow the C4 photosynthetic pathway, whereas tropical rainforest uses C3 photosynthesis, providing a proxy for vegetation and therefore climate change in the past. Here we discuss four guano stable-isotope records, based on insect cuticle and n-alkane analysis, supplemented by pollen analysis. All sites suggest a C3 dominated ecosystem for the Holocene, consistent with the wet tropical forest vegetation present at all locations. Two sites from Palawan Island, Philippines, record stable carbon isotope values of guano that document a drastic change from C3 (forest) to C4 (savanna) dominated ecosystems during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). A third location, at Niah Great Cave, Malaysia, indicates C3-dominant vegetation throughout the record, but does display variation in stable carbon isotope values likely linked to humidity changes. A fourth location, Batu Caves in Peninsular Malaysia, also indicates open vegetation during the LGM. Vegetation

  3. African Aesthetics

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Abiodun, Rowland

    2001-01-01

    No single traditional discipline can adequately supply answers to the many unresolved questions in African art history. Because of the aesthetic, cultural, historical, and, not infrequently, political biases, already built into the conception and development of Western art history, the discipline of art history as defined and practiced in the West…

  4. "African Connection."

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Adelman, Cathy; And Others

    This interdisciplinary unit provides students in grades kindergarten through seventh grade an opportunity to understand diversity through a study of Africa as a diverse continent. The project is designed to provide all elementary students with cultural enrichment by exposing them to African music, art, storytelling, and movement. This project can…

  5. Resource-use efficiency explains grassy weed invasion in a low-resource savanna in north Australia

    PubMed Central

    Ens, Emilie; Hutley, Lindsay B.; Rossiter-Rachor, Natalie A.; Douglas, Michael M.; Setterfield, Samantha A.

    2015-01-01

    Comparative studies of plant resource use and ecophysiological traits of invasive and native resident plant species can elucidate mechanisms of invasion success and ecosystem i