Science.gov

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. 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

  3. 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

  4. Nitrogen Subsidies and Fire Prone Ecosystems: the Case of African Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Prihodko, L.; Hanan, N. P.

    2008-12-01

    Savannas are the most frequently burned ecosystems on earth and fires are known to have significant effects on community composition and species interactions across all trophic levels. Fire also plays a significant role in the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and various nutrients in savannas as they are emitted or chemically transformed into more available, or more recalcitrant, forms during fires. In Africa, savanna fires occur more frequently in the unstable (mean annual precipitation (MAP) > 516mm), dystrophic (nutrient poor) savannas than they do in the relatively more stable (MAP < 516mm), eutrophic (nutrient rich) savannas. Are these dystrophic savannas dystrophic because they burn? Are the eutrophic savannas eutrophic because they are subsidized by nutrient inputs from spatially remote fires? Africa is an ideal location to study ecosystem sensitivity to atmospheric inputs of nitrogen from biomass burning for several reasons. A large proportion of the continent is very fire prone and approximately 40% of global emissions from biomass burning originate in Africa. In contrast, emissions from fossil fuel sources are low compared to highly industrialized regions in the Americas, Europe and Asia and agricultural input of nitrogen is limited in Africa. As a result, the ecosystem impacts of pyrogenic loss and gain of nitrogen are likely to be more important in Africa than elsewhere. We combine data from recent analyses of fire frequency (GFED) with an atmospheric transport model (HYSPLIT4) to simulate pyrogenic nitrogen deposition fields and analyze the fate of fire-related nitrogen in the atmosphere, gross and net N-deposition fields and thus the role fires may play in displacing nitrogen and depleting or enriching adjacent regions.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Determinants of woody cover in African savannas.

    PubMed

    Sankaran, Mahesh; Hanan, Niall P; Scholes, Robert J; Ratnam, Jayashree; Augustine, David J; Cade, Brian S; Gignoux, Jacques; Higgins, Steven I; Le Roux, Xavier; Ludwig, Fulco; Ardo, Jonas; Banyikwa, Feetham; Bronn, Andries; Bucini, Gabriela; Caylor, Kelly K; Coughenour, Michael B; Diouf, Alioune; Ekaya, Wellington; Feral, Christie J; February, Edmund C; Frost, Peter G H; Hiernaux, Pierre; Hrabar, Halszka; Metzger, Kristine L; Prins, Herbert H T; Ringrose, Susan; Sea, William; Tews, Jörg; Worden, Jeff; Zambatis, Nick

    2005-12-08

    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. The availability of resources (water, nutrients) and disturbance regimes (fire, herbivory) are thought to be important in regulating woody cover, 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 approximately 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 approximately 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 may considerably affect their distribution and dynamics.

  11. Termites create spatial structure and govern ecosystem function by affecting N2 fixation in an East African savanna.

    PubMed

    Fox-Dobbs, Kena; Doak, Daniel F; Brody, Alison K; Palmer, Todd M

    2010-05-01

    The mechanisms by which even the clearest of keystone or dominant species exert community-wide effects are only partially understood in most ecosystems. This is especially true when a species or guild influences community-wide interactions via changes in the abiotic landscape. Using stable isotope analyses, we show that subterranean termites in an East African savanna strongly influence a key ecosystem process: atmospheric nitrogen fixation by a monodominant tree species and its bacterial symbionts. Specifically, we applied the 15N natural abundance method in combination with other biogeochemical analyses to assess levels of nitrogen fixation by Acacia drepanolobium and its effects on co-occurring grasses and forbs in areas near and far from mounds and where ungulates were or were not excluded. We find that termites exert far stronger effects than do herbivores on nitrogen fixation. The percentage of nitrogen derived from fixation in Acacia drepanolobium trees is higher (55-80%) away from mounds vs. near mounds (40-50%). Mound soils have higher levels of plant available nitrogen, and Acacia drepanolobium may preferentially utilize soil-based nitrogen sources in lieu of fixed nitrogen when these sources are readily available near termite mounds. At the scale of the landscape, our models predict that termite/soil derived nitrogen sources influence >50% of the Acacia drepanolobium trees in our system. Further, the spatial extent of these effects combine with the spacing of termite mounds to create highly regular patterning in nitrogen fixation rates, resulting in marked habitat heterogeneity in an otherwise uniform landscape. In summary, we show that termite-associated effects on nitrogen processes are not only stronger than those of more apparent large herbivores in the same system, but also occur in a highly regular spatial pattern, potentially adding to their importance as drivers of community and ecosystem structure.

  12. The extent of burning in African savanna

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Cahoon, D. R. JR.; Levine, J. S.; Cofer, W. R. Iii; Stocks, B. J.

    1994-01-01

    The temporal and spatial distribution of African savanna grassland fires has been examined, and the areal extent of these fires has been estimated for the subequatorial African continent. African savanna fires have been investigated using remote sensing techniques and imagery collected by low-light sensors on Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites and by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) which is aboard polar orbiting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites. DMSP imagery has been used to map the evolution of savanna burning over all of the African continent and the analysis of AVHRR imagery has been used to estimate the areal extent of the burning in the southern hemispheric African savannas. The work presented primarily reflects the analysiscompleted for the year 1987. However, comparisons have been made with other years and the representativeness of the 1987 analysis is discussed.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Determinants of woody encroachment and cover in African savannas.

    PubMed

    Devine, Aisling P; McDonald, Robbie A; Quaife, Tristan; Maclean, Ilya M D

    2017-04-01

    Savanna ecosystems are an integral part of the African landscape and sustain the livelihoods of millions of people. Woody encroachment in savannas is a widespread phenomenon but its causes are widely debated. We review the extensive literature on woody encroachment to help improve understanding of the possible causes and to highlight where and how future scientific efforts to fully understand these causes should be focused. Rainfall is the most important determinant of maximum woody cover across Africa, but fire and herbivory interact to reduce woody cover below the maximum at many locations. We postulate that woody encroachment is most likely driven by CO2 enrichment and propose a two-system conceptual framework, whereby mechanisms of woody encroachment differ depending on whether the savanna is a wet or dry system. In dry savannas, the increased water-use efficiency in plants relaxes precipitation-driven constraints and increases woody growth. In wet savannas, the increase of carbon allocation to tree roots results in faster recovery rates after disturbance and a greater likelihood of reaching sexual maturity. Our proposed framework can be tested using a mixture of experimental and earth observational techniques. At a local level, changes in precipitation, burning regimes or herbivory could be driving woody encroachment, but are unlikely to be the explanation of this continent-wide phenomenon.

  16. 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.

  17. Modeling soil moisture memory in savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gou, S.; Miller, G. R.

    2011-12-01

    Antecedent soil conditions create an ecosystem's "memory" of past rainfall events. Such soil moisture memory effects may be observed over a range of timescales, from daily to yearly, and lead to feedbacks between hydrological and ecosystem processes. In this study, we modeled the soil moisture memory effect on savanna ecosystems in California, Arizona, and Africa, using a system dynamics model created to simulate the ecohydrological processes at the plot-scale. The model was carefully calibrated using soil moisture and evapotranspiration data collected at three study sites. The model was then used to simulate scenarios with various initial soil moisture conditions and antecedent precipitation regimes, in order to study the soil moisture memory effects on the evapotranspiration of understory and overstory species. Based on the model results, soil texture and antecedent precipitation regime impact the redistribution of water within soil layers, potentially causing deeper soil layers to influence the ecosystem for a longer time. Of all the study areas modeled, soil moisture memory of California savanna ecosystem site is replenished and dries out most rapidly. Thus soil moisture memory could not maintain the high rate evapotranspiration for more than a few days without incoming rainfall event. On the contrary, soil moisture memory of Arizona savanna ecosystem site lasts the longest time. The plants with different root depths respond to different memory effects; shallow-rooted species mainly respond to the soil moisture memory in the shallow soil. The growing season of grass is largely depended on the soil moisture memory of the top 25cm soil layer. Grass transpiration is sensitive to the antecedent precipitation events within daily to weekly timescale. Deep-rooted plants have different responses since these species can access to the deeper soil moisture memory with longer time duration Soil moisture memory does not have obvious impacts on the phenology of woody plants

  18. Unsustainable fuelwood extraction from South African savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wessels, K. J.; Colgan, M. S.; Erasmus, B. F. N.; Asner, G. P.; Twine, W. C.; Mathieu, R.; van Aardt, J. A. N.; Fisher, J. T.; Smit, I. P. J.

    2013-03-01

    Wood and charcoal supply the majority of sub-Saharan Africa’s rural energy needs. The long-term supply of fuelwood is in jeopardy given high consumption rates. Using airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR), we mapped and investigated savanna aboveground biomass across contrasting land uses, ranging from densely populated communal areas to highly protected areas in the Lowveld savannas of South Africa. We combined the LiDAR observations with socio-economic data, biomass production rates and fuelwood consumption rates in a supply-demand model to predict future fuelwood availability. LiDAR-based biomass maps revealed disturbance gradients around settlements up to 1.5 km, corresponding to the maximum distance walked to collect fuelwood. At current levels of fuelwood consumption (67% of households use fuelwood exclusively, with a 2% annual reduction), we calculate that biomass in the study area will be exhausted within thirteen years. We also show that it will require a 15% annual reduction in consumption for eight years to a level of 20% of households using fuelwood before the reduction in biomass appears to stabilize to sustainable levels. The severity of dwindling fuelwood reserves in African savannas underscores the importance of providing affordable energy for rural economic development.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. Seasonal changes of water carbon relations in savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kutsch, W. L.; Merbold, L.; Archibald, S.

    2011-12-01

    During evolution plant species have developed different strategies to optimize the water carbon relations. These stratgies summarize to ecosystem properties. As an example we show how tropical and subtropical savannas and woodlands can respond flexibly to changes in temperature and water availability and thus optimize carbon and water fluxes between land surface and atmosphere. Several phenomena are presented and discussed in this overview from African flux sites in Zambia, Burkina Faso and South Africa: Pre-rain leaf development: Many trees developed new leaves before the first rain appeared. As a consequence of this early timing of leaf flush, the phenological increase of photosynthetic capacity (Amax) was steeper than in temperate forests. Mid-term response of conductance and photosynthesis to soil water relations: 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 water vapour pressure deficit (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 Rubisco during drought. Our results may show the effects of these processes on the ecosystem scale. Furthermore, we observed that the close relationship between stomatal conductance and photosynthesis resulted in different temperature optima of GPP that were close to the average daytime temperature. Adaptation of respiration to rain pulses: Finally, the response of respiration to rain pulses showed changes throughout the growing season. The first rain events early

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. North African savanna fires and atmospheric carbon dioxide

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Iacobellis, Sam F.; Frouin, Robert; Razafimpanilo, Herisoa; Somerville, Richard C. J.; Piper, Stephen C.

    1994-01-01

    The effect of north African savanna fires on atmospheric CO2 is investigated using a tracer transport model. The model uses winds from operational numerical weather prediction analyses and provides CO2 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 CO2 sources. The various model experiments show that biomass burning in the north African savannas significantly affects CO2 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 CO2 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 CO2 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 CO2 concentration increase at 970 mbar. At higher levels in the atmosphere, less CO2 emitted by north African savanna fires reaches South America, and at 100 mbar no significant amount of CO2 is transported across the Atlantic Ocean. The vertical

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Impacts of savanna trees on forage quality for a large African herbivore

    PubMed Central

    De Kroon, Hans; Prins, Herbert H. T.

    2008-01-01

    Recently, cover of large trees in African savannas has rapidly declined due to elephant pressure, frequent fires and charcoal production. The reduction in large trees could have consequences for large herbivores through a change in forage quality. In Tarangire National Park, in Northern Tanzania, we studied the impact of large savanna trees on forage quality for wildebeest by collecting samples of dominant grass species in open grassland and under and around large Acacia tortilis trees. Grasses growing under trees had a much higher forage quality than grasses from the open field indicated by a more favourable leaf/stem ratio and higher protein and lower fibre concentrations. Analysing the grass leaf data with a linear programming model indicated that large savanna trees could be essential for the survival of wildebeest, the dominant herbivore in Tarangire. Due to the high fibre content and low nutrient and protein concentrations of grasses from the open field, maximum fibre intake is reached before nutrient requirements are satisfied. All requirements can only be satisfied by combining forage from open grassland with either forage from under or around tree canopies. Forage quality was also higher around dead trees than in the open field. So forage quality does not reduce immediately after trees die which explains why negative effects of reduced tree numbers probably go initially unnoticed. In conclusion our results suggest that continued destruction of large trees could affect future numbers of large herbivores in African savannas and better protection of large trees is probably necessary to sustain high animal densities in these ecosystems. PMID:18309522

  8. Carbon balance of a grazed savanna grassland ecosystem in South Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Räsänen, Matti; Aurela, Mika; Vakkari, Ville; Beukes, Johan P.; Tuovinen, Juha-Pekka; Van Zyl, Pieter G.; Josipovic, Miroslav; Venter, Andrew D.; Jaars, Kerneels; Siebert, Stefan J.; Laurila, Tuomas; Rinne, Janne; Laakso, Lauri

    2017-03-01

    Tropical savannas and grasslands are estimated to contribute significantly to the total primary production of all terrestrial vegetation. Large parts of African savannas and grasslands are used for agriculture and cattle grazing, but the carbon flux data available from these areas are limited. This study explores carbon dioxide fluxes measured with the eddy covariance method for 3 years at a grazed savanna grassland in Welgegund, South Africa. The tree cover around the measurement site, grazed by cattle and sheep, was around 15 %. The night-time respiration was not significantly dependent on either soil moisture or soil temperature on a weekly temporal scale, whereas on an annual timescale higher respiration rates were observed when soil temperatures were higher. The carbon dioxide balances of the years 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 were -85 ± 16, 67 ± 20 and 139 ± 13 gC m-2 yr-1, respectively. The yearly variation was largely determined by the changes in the early wet season fluxes (September to November) and in the mid-growing season fluxes (December to January). Early rainfall enhanced the respiratory capacity of the ecosystem throughout the year, whereas during the mid-growing season high rainfall resulted in high carbon uptake.

  9. 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.

  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.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2016-01-01

    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

  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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. Spatial vegetation patterns and neighborhood competition among woody plants in an East African savanna.

    PubMed

    Dohn, Justin; Augustine, David J; Hanan, Niall P; Ratnam, Jayashree; Sankaran, Mahesh

    2017-02-01

    The majority of research on savanna vegetation dynamics has focused on the coexistence of woody and herbaceous vegetation. Interactions among woody plants in savannas are relatively poorly understood. We present data from a 10-yr longitudinal study of spatially explicit growth patterns of woody vegetation in an East African savanna following exclusion of large herbivores and in the absence of fire. We examined plant spatial patterns and quantified the degree of competition among woody individuals. Woody plants in this semiarid savanna exhibit strongly clumped spatial distributions at scales of 1-5 m. However, analysis of woody plant growth rates relative to their conspecific and heterospecific neighbors revealed evidence for strong competitive interactions at neighborhood scales of up to 5 m for most woody plant species. Thus, woody plants were aggregated in clumps despite significantly decreased growth rates in close proximity to neighbors, indicating that the spatial distribution of woody plants in this region depends on dispersal and establishment processes rather than on competitive, density-dependent mortality. However, our documentation of suppressive effects of woody plants on neighbors also suggests a potentially important role for tree-tree competition in controlling vegetation structure and indicates that the balanced-competition hypothesis may contribute to well-known patterns in maximum tree cover across rainfall gradients in Africa.

  19. Modeling the effects of anthropogenic habitat change on savanna snake invasions into African rainforest.

    PubMed

    Freedman, Adam H; Buermann, Wolfgang; Lebreton, Matthew; Chirio, Laurent; Smith, Thomas B

    2009-02-01

    We used a species-distribution modeling approach, ground-based climate data sets, and newly available remote-sensing data on vegetation from the MODIS and Quick Scatterometer sensors to investigate the combined effects of human-caused habitat alterations and climate on potential invasions of rainforest by 3 savanna snake species in Cameroon, Central Africa: the night adder (Causus maculatus), olympic lined snake (Dromophis lineatus), and African house snake (Lamprophis fuliginosus). Models with contemporary climate variables and localities from native savanna habitats showed that the current climate in undisturbed rainforest was unsuitable for any of the snake species due to high precipitation. Limited availability of thermally suitable nest sites and mismatches between important life-history events and prey availability are a likely explanation for the predicted exclusion from undisturbed rainforest. Models with only MODIS-derived vegetation variables and savanna localities predicted invasion in disturbed areas within the rainforest zone, which suggests that human removal of forest cover creates suitable microhabitats that facilitate invasions into rainforest. Models with a combination of contemporary climate, MODIS- and Quick Scatterometer-derived vegetation variables, and forest and savanna localities predicted extensive invasion into rainforest caused by rainforest loss. In contrast, a projection of the present-day species-climate envelope on future climate suggested a reduction in invasion potential within the rainforest zone as a consequence of predicted increases in precipitation. These results emphasize that the combined responses of deforestation and climate change will likely be complex in tropical rainforest systems.

  20. Comparison of nitrogen monoxide emissions from several African tropical ecosystems and influence of season and fire

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    SerçA, D.; Delmas, R.; Le Roux, X.; Parsons, D. A. B.; Scholes, M. C.; Abbadie, L.; Lensi, R.; Ronce, O.; Labroue, L.

    1998-12-01

    NO emission rates from soils were measured for twelve major African ecosystems in four countries (Congo, Niger, Ivory Coast, and South Africa) and within four major phytogeographic domains: the Guineo-Congolese, Guinean, Sahelian, and Zambezian domains. Measurements were performed during wet and/or dry seasons. All the measurements were made with the same dynamic chamber device, which allowed true comparisons to be made. This study showed that emission rates strongly differed between ecosystems and exhibited a marked temporal variability. Ecosystem effect was highly significant during both the dry and wet seasons. Emission rates were low (<0.6 ng NO-N m-2 s-1) in Hyparrhenia and Loudetia savannas of the Guinean or Guineo-Congolese domains. Intermediate NO fluxes were obtained in rain forest and gallery forest ecosystems, in a broad-leafed savanna and in a seasonally wetted grassland (sandy soil) of the Zambezian domain, and in a dry fallow savanna of the Sahelian domain. Emission rates were maximum (>7 ng NO-N m-2 s-1) in a seasonally wetted grassland (site 2) and in particular sites subjected to various disturbances, for example soil fauna activity (termite mounds) or past human disturbance (Acacia patches-settlement site). Microbial activity potentials (i.e., carbon mineralization, nitrification, denitrification, and total net N mineralization) were determined for most of the soils where NO fluxes were measured. In some sites, these potential activities were useful to identify the major processes controlling NO emission rates. Denitrification potential was very low and could not explain substantial NO fluxes from broad- and fine-leafed savannas and Hyperihelia savannas of the Zambezian domain. Very low potentials of both nitrification and denitrification could be related to the low NO fluxes for the three Guinean savanna sites studied. NO fluxes were significantly higher during the wet season than the dry season in both savanna and forest ecosystems. Emission

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  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).

  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. Eddy covariance and biometric measurements show that a savanna ecosystem in Southwest China is a carbon sink

    PubMed Central

    Fei, Xuehai; Jin, Yanqiang; Zhang, Yiping; Sha, Liqing; Liu, Yuntong; Song, Qinghai; Zhou, Wenjun; Liang, Naishen; Yu, Guirui; Zhang, Leiming; Zhou, Ruiwu; Li, Jing; Zhang, Shubin; Li, Peiguang

    2017-01-01

    Savanna ecosystems play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle. However, there is a gap in our understanding of carbon fluxes in the savanna ecosystems of Southeast Asia. In this study, the eddy covariance technique (EC) and the biometric-based method (BM) were used to determine carbon exchange in a savanna ecosystem in Southwest China. The BM-based net ecosystem production (NEP) was 0.96 tC ha−1 yr−1. The EC-based estimates of the average annual gross primary productivity (GPP), ecosystem respiration (Reco), and net ecosystem carbon exchange (NEE) were 6.84, 5.54, and −1.30 tC ha−1 yr−1, respectively, from May 2013 to December 2015, indicating that this savanna ecosystem acted as an appreciable carbon sink. The ecosystem was more efficient during the wet season than the dry season, so that it represented a small carbon sink of 0.16 tC ha−1 yr−1 in the dry season and a considerable carbon sink of 1.14 tC ha−1 yr−1 in the wet season. However, it is noteworthy that the carbon sink capacity may decline in the future under rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall. Consequently, further studies should assess how environmental factors and climate change will influence carbon-water fluxes. PMID:28145459

  6. Eddy covariance and biometric measurements show that a savanna ecosystem in Southwest China is a carbon sink

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fei, Xuehai; Jin, Yanqiang; Zhang, Yiping; Sha, Liqing; Liu, Yuntong; Song, Qinghai; Zhou, Wenjun; Liang, Naishen; Yu, Guirui; Zhang, Leiming; Zhou, Ruiwu; Li, Jing; Zhang, Shubin; Li, Peiguang

    2017-02-01

    Savanna ecosystems play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle. However, there is a gap in our understanding of carbon fluxes in the savanna ecosystems of Southeast Asia. In this study, the eddy covariance technique (EC) and the biometric-based method (BM) were used to determine carbon exchange in a savanna ecosystem in Southwest China. The BM-based net ecosystem production (NEP) was 0.96 tC ha‑1 yr‑1. The EC-based estimates of the average annual gross primary productivity (GPP), ecosystem respiration (Reco), and net ecosystem carbon exchange (NEE) were 6.84, 5.54, and ‑1.30 tC ha‑1 yr‑1, respectively, from May 2013 to December 2015, indicating that this savanna ecosystem acted as an appreciable carbon sink. The ecosystem was more efficient during the wet season than the dry season, so that it represented a small carbon sink of 0.16 tC ha‑1 yr‑1 in the dry season and a considerable carbon sink of 1.14 tC ha‑1 yr‑1 in the wet season. However, it is noteworthy that the carbon sink capacity may decline in the future under rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall. Consequently, further studies should assess how environmental factors and climate change will influence carbon-water fluxes.

  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. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Observations of a seasonal cycle in NOx emissions from fires in the African savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mebust, A. K.; Cohen, R. C.

    2012-12-01

    Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from wildfires account for ~15% of the global total, inducing large fluctuations in the chemical production and loss rates of O3 and CH4 and thereby affecting Earth's radiative balance. NOx emissions from fires depend on fuel N content, combustion stage, and total biomass burned; sparse observations limit current understanding of the variability in these factors across biomes. Here we use satellite-based measurements to study emission coefficients (ECs), a value proportional to emission factors i.e. NOx emitted per unit of biomass burned, from fires in African savannas. NOx ECs decrease steadily across the fire season, rather than remaining constant as is currently assumed. We speculate that this is due to reallocation of nutrients, including N, to plant roots after the growing season. We account for the observed cycle in the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model to show the impacts on monthly tropospheric ozone.

  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. 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.

  16. The stability of African savannas: insights from the indirect estimation of the parameters of a dynamic model.

    PubMed

    Higgins, Steven I; Scheiter, Simon; Sankaran, Mahesh

    2010-06-01

    Savannas are characterized by a competitive tension between grasses and trees, and theoretical models illustrate how this competitive tension is influenced by resource availability, competition for these resources, and disturbances. How this universe of theoretical possibilities translates into the real world is, however, poorly understood. In this paper we indirectly parameterize a theoretical model of savanna dynamics with the aim of gaining insights as to how the grass-tree balance changes across a broad biogeographical gradient. We use data on the abundance of trees in African savannas and Markov chain Monte Carlo methods to estimate the model parameters. The analysis shows that grasses and trees can coexist over a broad range of rainfall regimes. Further, our results indicate that savannas may be regulated by either asymptotically stable dynamics (in the absence of fire) or by stable limit cycles (in the presence of fire). Rainfall does not influence which of these two classes of dynamics occurs. We conclude that, even though fire might not be necessary for grass-tree coexistence, it nonetheless is an important modifier of grass: tree ratios.

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. Habitat differences in dung beetle assemblages in an African savanna-forest ecotone: implications for secondary seed dispersal.

    PubMed

    Kunz, Britta K; Krell, Frank-Thorsten

    2011-06-01

    The probability and pattern of secondary seed dispersal by dung beetles (Scarabaeinae) depend on their community structure and composition at the site of primary deposition, which, in turn, seem to be strongly determined by vegetation. Consequently, we expected pronounced differences in secondary seed dispersal between forest and savanna in the northern Ivory Coast, West Africa. We found 99 dung beetle species at experimentally exposed dung piles of the olive baboon (Papio anubis (Lesson, 1827)), an important primary seed disperser in West Africa. Seventy-six species belonged to the roller and tunneler guilds, which are relevant for secondary seed dispersal. Most species showed a clear habitat preference. Contrary to the Neotropics, species number and abundance were much higher in the savanna than in the forest. Rollers and tunnelers each accounted for approximately 50% of the individuals in the savanna, but in the forest rollers made up only 4%. Seeds deposited into the savanna by an omnivorous primary disperser generally have a higher overall probability of being more rapidly dispersed secondarily by dung beetles than seeds in the forest. Also, rollers disperse seeds over larger distances. In contrast to other studies, small rollers were active in dispersal of large seeds, which were seemingly mistaken for dung balls. Our results suggest that rollers can remove seeds from any plant dispersed in primate dung in this ecosystem.

  20. Spatial vegetation patterns and neighborhood competition among woody plants in an East African savanna

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    The majority of research on savanna vegetation dynamics has focused on the coexistence of woody and herbaceous vegetation; interactions among woody plants in savannas are relatively poorly understood. We present data from a 10-year longitudinal study of spatially explicit growth patterns of woody ve...

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Variations in ecosystem structure, carbon, and nutrient storage along a fertility gradient in tropical savanna of southern Mato Grosso, Brazil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vourlitis, G. L.; Lobo, F. D.; Lawrence, S.; Holt, K.; Pinto Junior, O. B.; Dalmagro, H. J.; Nogueira, J. D.

    2013-12-01

    Brazilian savanna (cerrado) is composed of vegetation and soil types that are spatially variable, and links between cerrado physiognomy and soil properties are poorly understood. To reduce this uncertainty, we measured the plant community structure and carbon (C) and nutrient (N, P, K, and Ca) stocks in aboveground wood, foliage, and litter, and soil (0-50 cm) pools in a variety of cerrado vegetation types located in the Cuiaba Basin and the Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil. We hypothesized that aboveground and surface soil C and nutrient stocks would be correlated with soil fertility and vegetation structure (including tree species composition, density and tree species diversity). Our results indicate that aboveground woody (AGW), foliage, and soil C stocks were significantly (p < 0.05) correlated with indices of soil fertility but not texture. Since AGWC was the largest C pool, total ecosystem C stocks increase significantly as a function of soil fertility. Similarly, AGWC and foliage C stocks were significantly correlated with tree species diversity (H'), but not soil texture. These data suggest that small-scale (m2-ha) variations in soil fertility are important controls on ecosystem C storage in Brazilian cerrado, and that ecosystem C and nutrient storage is positively related to tree species diversity. These results are qualitatively similar to those reported for tropical forests across regional fertility gradients in the Amazon Basin. These results have implications for the maintenance of soil C storage and fertility and tree species diversity in cerrado.

  11. Effects of controlled fire and livestock grazing on bird communities in East African savannas.

    PubMed

    Gregory, Nathan C; Sensenig, Ryan L; Wilcove, David S

    2010-12-01

    In East Africa fire and grazing by wild and domestic ungulates maintain savannas, and pastoralists historically set fires and herded livestock through the use of temporary corrals called bomas. In recent decades traditional pastoral practices have declined, and this may be affecting biodiversity. We investigated the effects of prescribed fires and bomas on savanna bird communities in East Africa during the first and second dry seasons of the year (respectively before and after the rains that mark the onset of breeding for most birds). We compared abundance, richness, and community composition on 9-ha burned plots, recently abandoned bomas, and control plots in the undisturbed matrix habitat over a 3-year period. Generally, recently burned areas and abandoned bomas attracted greater densities of birds and had different community assemblages than the surrounding matrix. The effects of disturbances were influenced by interactions between primary productivity, represented by the normalized difference vegetation index, and time. Bird densities were highest and a greater proportion of species was observed on burned plots in the months following the fires. Drought conditions equalized bird densities across treatments within 1 year, and individuals from a greater proportion of species were more commonly observed on abandoned bomas. Yearly fluctuations in abundance were less pronounced on bomas than on burns, which indicate that although fire may benefit birds in the short term, bomas may have a more-lasting positive effect and provide resources during droughts. Several Palearctic migrants were attracted to burned plots regardless of rainfall, which indicates continued fire suppression may threaten their already-declining populations. Most notably, the paucity of birds observed on the controls suggests that the current structure of the matrix developed as a result of fire suppression. Traditional pastoralism appears critical to the maintenance of avian diversity in these

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. Body temperature daily rhythm adaptations in African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana).

    PubMed

    Kinahan, A A; Inge-moller, R; Bateman, P W; Kotze, A; Scantlebury, M

    2007-11-23

    The savanna elephant is the largest extant mammal and often inhabits hot and arid environments. Due to their large size, it might be expected that elephants have particular physiological adaptations, such as adjustments to the rhythms of their core body temperature (T(b)) to deal with environmental challenges. This study describes for the first time the T(b) daily rhythms in savanna elephants. Our results showed that elephants had lower mean T(b) values (36.2 +/- 0.49 degrees C) than smaller ungulates inhabiting similar environments but did not have larger or smaller amplitudes of T(b) variation (0.40 +/- 0.12 degrees C), as would be predicted by their exposure to large fluctuations in ambient temperature or their large size. No difference was found between the daily T(b) rhythms measured under different conditions of water stress. Peak T(b)'s occurred late in the evening (22:10) which is generally later than in other large mammals ranging in similar environmental conditions.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. Trade-offs between savanna woody plant diversity and carbon storage in the Brazilian Cerrado.

    PubMed

    Pellegrini, Adam F A; Socolar, Jacob B; Elsen, Paul R; Giam, Xingli

    2016-10-01

    Incentivizing carbon storage can be a win-win pathway to conserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change. In savannas, however, the situation is more complex. Promoting carbon storage through woody encroachment may reduce plant diversity of savanna endemics, even as the diversity of encroaching forest species increases. This trade-off has important implications for the management of biodiversity and carbon in savanna habitats, but has rarely been evaluated empirically. We quantified the nature of carbon-diversity relationships in the Brazilian Cerrado by analyzing how woody plant species richness changed with carbon storage in 206 sites across the 2.2 million km(2) region at two spatial scales. We show that total woody plant species diversity increases with carbon storage, as expected, but that the richness of endemic savanna woody plant species declines with carbon storage both at the local scale, as woody biomass accumulates within plots, and at the landscape scale, as forest replaces savanna. The sharpest trade-offs between carbon storage and savanna diversity occurred at the early stages of carbon accumulation at the local scale but the final stages of forest encroachment at the landscape scale. Furthermore, the loss of savanna species quickens in the final stages of forest encroachment, and beyond a point, savanna species losses outpace forest species gains with increasing carbon accumulation. Our results suggest that although woody encroachment in savanna ecosystems may provide substantial carbon benefits, it comes at the rapidly accruing cost of woody plant species adapted to the open savanna environment. Moreover, the dependence of carbon-diversity trade-offs on the amount of savanna area remaining requires land managers to carefully consider local conditions. Widespread woody encroachment in both Australian and African savannas and grasslands may present similar threats to biodiversity.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

    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. PMID:24198932

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. Host-Parasite Associations in Small Mammal Communities in Semiarid Savanna Ecosystems of East Africa.

    PubMed

    Guerra, Ana Sofia; Eckerlin, Ralph P; Dowling, Ashley P G; Durden, Lance A; Robbins, Richard G; Dittmar, Katharina; Helgen, Kristofer M; Agwanda, Bernard; Allan, Brian F; Hedlund, Tyler; Young, Hillary S

    2016-07-01

    Despite the established importance of rodents as reservoirs of vector-borne zoonoses in East Africa, there is relatively limited information regarding the infestation parameters and host associations of ectoparasites that vector many such pathogens among small mammals in this region. Between 2009 and 2013, small mammals were live-trapped in the semiarid savanna of Kenya. A subset of these individual hosts, including 20 distinct host taxa, was examined for ectoparasites, which were identified to species. Species of fleas, ticks, mites, and sucking lice were recorded. Based on these data, we calculated host-specific infestation parameters, documented host preferences among ectoparasites, conducted a rarefaction analysis and extrapolation to determine if ectoparasites were adequately sampled, and assessed nestedness for fleas to understand how pathogens might spread in this system. We found that the flea community structure was significantly nested. Understanding the ectoparasite network structure may have significant human relevance, as at least seven of the ectoparasite species collected are known vectors of pathogens of medical importance in the region, including Yersinia pestis, Rickettsia spp., and Theileria parva, the causative agents of plague, spotted fevers and other rickettsial illnesses in humans, and theileriosis, respectively.

  8. An impulsive modelling framework of fire occurrence in a size-structured model of tree-grass interactions for savanna ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Yatat, V; Couteron, P; Tewa, J J; Bowong, S; Dumont, Y

    2016-09-22

    Fires and mean annual rainfall are major factors that regulate woody and grassy biomasses in savanna ecosystems. Within the savanna biome, conditions of long-lasting coexistence of trees and grasses have been often studied using continuous-time modelling of tree-grass competition. In these studies, fire is a time-continuous forcing while the relationship between woody plant size and fire-sensitivity is not systematically considered. In this paper, we propose a new mathematical framework to model tree-grass interactions that takes into account both the impulsive nature of fire occurrence and size-dependent fire sensitivity (via two classes of woody plants). We carry out a qualitative analysis that highlights ecological thresholds and bifurcation parameters that shape the dynamics of the savanna-like systems within the main ecological zones. Through a qualitative analysis, we show that the impulsive modelling of fire occurrences leads to more diverse behaviors including cases of grassland, savanna and forest tristability and a more realistic array of solutions than the analogous time-continuous fire models. Numerical simulations are carried out with respect to the three main ecological contexts (moist, mesic, semi-arid) to illustrate the theoretical results and to support a discussion about the bifurcation parameters and the advantages of the model.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. Nitrogen deposition in tropical forests from deforestation and savanna fires

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chen, Y.; Randerson, J. T.; van der Werf, G.; Morton, D. C.; Kasibhatla, P. S.

    2009-12-01

    Tropical forests account for nearly half of global net primary production (NPP) and may contribute substantially to contemporary and future land carbon (C) sinks. We used satellite-derived estimates of global fire emissions and a chemical transport model to estimate atmospheric nitrogen (N) fluxes from deforestation and savanna fires in tropical ecosystems. N emissions and deposition led to a substantial net transport of N equatorward, from savannas and areas undergoing deforestation to tropical forests. On average, N emissions from fires were equivalent to approximately 28% of biological N fixation (BNF) in savannas (4.8 kg N ha-1 yr-1) and 38% of BNF from ecosystems at the deforestation frontier (9.1 kg N ha-1 yr-1). N deposition occurred in interior tropical forests at a rate equivalent to 4% of their BNF (1.1 kg N ha-1 yr-1). This percentage was highest for African tropical forests in the Congo Basin (16%; 3.7 kg N ha-1 yr-1) owing to equatorward transport from northern and southern savannas. These results suggest that land use change, including deforestation fires, may be enhancing nutrient availability and carbon sequestration in nearby tropical forest ecosystems.

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. A Methodology to Develop Entrepreneurial Networks: The Tech Ecosystem of Six African Cities

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2014-11-01

    Technical Report 15-005 A Methodology to Develop Entrepreneurial Networks: The Tech Ecosystem of Six African Cities Daniel...NUMBER n/a A Methodology to Develop Entrepreneurial Networks: The Tech Ecosystem of Six African Cities 5b. GRANT NUMBER n/a 5c. PROGRAM...A Methodology to Develop Entrepreneurial Networks: The Tech Ecosystem of Six African Cities Daniel Evans Background Our project

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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...

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. Inter-annual Variability of Evapotranspiration in a Semi-arid Oak-savanna Ecosystem: Measured and Modeled Buffering to Precipitation Changes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Raz-Yaseef, N.; Sonnentag, O.; Kobayashi, H.; Baldocchi, D. D.

    2010-12-01

    Precipitation (P) is the primary control on vegetation dynamics and productivity, implying that climate induced disturbances in frequency and timing of P are intimately coupled with fluxes of carbon, water and energy. Future climate change is expected to increase extreme rainfall events as well as droughts, suggesting linked vegetation changes to an unknown extent. Semi-arid climates experience large inter-annual variability (IAV) in P, creating natural conditions adequate to study how year-to-year changes in P affect atmosphere-biosphere fluxes. We used a 10-year flux database collected at a semi-arid savanna site in order to: (1) define IAV in P by means of frequency and timing; (2) investigate how changes in P affect the ecohydrology of the forest and its partitioning into the main vapor fluxes, and (3) evaluate model capability to predict IAV of carbon and water fluxes above and below the canopy. This is based on the perception that the capability of process-oriented models to construct the deviation, and not the average, is important in order to correctly predict ecosystem sensitivity to climate change. Our research site was a low density and low LAI (0.8) semi-arid (P=523±180 mm yr-1) savanna site, combined of oaks and grass, and located at Tonzi ranch, California. Measurements of carbon and water fluxes above and below the tree canopy using eddy covariance and supplementary measurements have been made since 2001. Measured fluxes were compared to modeled based on two bio-meteorological process-oriented ecosystem models: BEPS and 3D-CAONAK. Our results show that IAV in P was large, and standard deviation (STD) was 38% of the average. Accordingly, the wet soil period (measured volumetric water content > 8%) varied between 156 days in dry years to 301 days in wet years. IAV of the vapor fluxes were lower than that of P (STD was 17% for the trees and 23% for the floor components), suggesting on ecosystem buffering to changes in P. The timing of grass green up

  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. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. Source characterization of biomass burning particles: The combustion of selected European conifers, African hardwood, savanna grass, and German and Indonesian peat

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Iinuma, Y.; Brüggemann, E.; Gnauk, T.; Müller, K.; Andreae, M. O.; Helas, G.; Parmar, R.; Herrmann, H.

    2007-04-01

    We carried out a detailed size-resolved chemical characterization of particle emissions from the combustion of European conifer species, savanna grass, African hardwood, and German and Indonesian peat. Combustion particles were sampled using two sets of five-stage Berner-type cascade impactors after a buffer volume and a dilution tunnel. We determined the emission factors of water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC, 46-6700 mg kg-1, sum of five stages), water-insoluble organic carbon (WISOC, 1300-6100 mg kg-1), (apparent) elemental carbon (ECa, 490-1800 mg kg-1), inorganic ions (68-400 mg kg-1), n-alkanes (0.38-910 mg kg-1), n-alkenes (0.45-180 mg kg-1), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (1.4-28 mg kg-1), oxy-PAHs (0.08-1.0 mg kg-1), lignin decomposition products (59-620 mg kg-1), nitrophenols (1.4-31 mg kg-1), resin acids (0-110 mg kg-1), and cellulose and hemicellulose decomposition products (540-5900 mg kg-1). The combustion and particle emission characteristics of both of peat were significantly different from those of the other biofuels. Peat burning yielded significantly higher emission factors of total fine particles in comparison to the other biofuels. Very high emission factors of n-alkanes and n-alkenes were observed from peat combustion, which may be connected to the concurrently observed "missing" CCN in peat smoke. A high level of monosaccharide anhydrides, especially levoglucosan, was detected from all types of biofuel combustion. The fractions of monosaccharide anhydrides in the emitted total carbon were higher in smaller particles (aerodynamic diameter, Dpa < 0.42 μm).

  15. 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

  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. 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

  18. Demography of woody species in a semi-arid African savanna reserve following the re-introduction of elephants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    O'Connor, Timothy G.

    2017-01-01

    The hypothesis that African elephants may cause the local extirpation of selected woody species was evaluated in a medium-sized, semi-arid reserve following their reintroduction at low density. Mortality, state-change, and regeneration of 25 tree and 17 shrub species were studied between 1997 and 2010. Annual mortality of shrub species ranged from 0.2 to 8.0%, with six species experiencing 6-8%. Eight shrub species lost more than half their adult population (range 10-94%). Annual tree mortality ranged from 0.2 to 10.5%. The two dominant dryland tree species experienced <1% annual mortality, 18 species lost more than half their tree population, and one was eliminated. Elephants accounted for >63% and stress-related agents >20% of tree deaths. The manner in which elephants induced tree death depended on species. The proportion of individuals of a species killed by pollarding or uprooting ranged from 0 to 74%, and by debarking from 0 to 100%. Complete uprooting was a common cause of death for three shrub species. Regeneration ranged from zero for six tree and one shrub species to a seedling every 7 m2 for Colophospermum mopane and 23 m2 for Dichrostachys cinerea in riparian habitat. Three shrub and eight tree species were identified as vulnerable to local extirpation owing to a combination of high mortality and poor regeneration that is likely to result in a considerably simplified system. Reintroduction of elephants into medium-sized reserves without regulation of their numbers may not be a desirable action.

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Structural Ecosystems Therapy for HIV-Seropositive African American Women: Effects on Psychological Distress, Family Hassles, and Family Support

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Szapocznik, Jose; Feaster, Daniel J.; Mitrani, Victoria B.; Prado, Guillermo; Smith, Lila; Robinson-Batista, Carleen; Schwartz, Seth J.; Mauer, Magaly H.; Robbins, Michael S.

    2004-01-01

    This study tests the efficacy of Structural Ecosystems Therapy (SET), a family-ecological intervention, in improving psychosocial functioning when compared with an attention-comparison person-centered condition and a community control condition. A sample of 209 HIV-seropositive, urban, low-income, African American women was randomized into 1 of…

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. Termites facilitate and ungulates limit savanna tree regeneration.

    PubMed

    Støen, Ole-Gunnar; Okullo, Paul; Eid, Tron; Moe, Stein R

    2013-08-01

    Both large herbivores and termites are key functional groups in savanna ecosystems, and in many savanna areas, large termite mounds (termitaria) are associated with distinct woody clusters. Studies on the effect of large mammals on tree regeneration are few, and the results are conflicting. Large herbivores have been found to be important seedling predators in some areas, but facilitate tree regeneration by outcompeting small mammals and reducing grass cover in other areas. Through the use of the experimental fencing of termite mounds and adjacent savanna areas in this study, we investigated how termites and large herbivores influence tree regeneration. Termite mounds had a higher number of seedlings, more species richness, more alpha diversity (OD) and lower evenness (E) than savanna plots. Large herbivores did not significantly affect overall seedling density, species richness, OD or E. Beta diversity was higher in savanna areas than on termitaria, and beta diversity decreased in savanna areas when herbivores were excluded. Herbivore exclusion increased the density of the 12 (40%) most common seedling species, representing 79% of all seedlings, and fenced plots had relatively taller seedlings than open plots. Thus, termites were the main determinants of tree regeneration in our study area, but large mammals regulated the most common species. Although our study confirms previous work suggesting that large herbivores affect tree regeneration, we found that termites were an even more important determinant. Termite impacts on tree regeneration deserve increased attention by savanna ecologists.

  20. Aridity, not fire, favors nitrogen-fixing plants across tropical savanna and forest biomes.

    PubMed

    Pellegrini, Adam F A; Staver, A Carla; Hedin, Lars O; Charles-Dominique, Tristan; Tourgee, Amy

    2016-09-01

    Tropical savannas are hypothesized to be hot spots of nitrogen-fixer diversity and activity because of the high disturbance and low nitrogen characteristic of savanna landscapes. Here we compare the abundances of nitrogen-fixing and non-fixing trees in both tropical savannas and tropical forests under climatically equivalent conditions, using plant inventory studies across 566 plots in South America and Africa. A single factor, aridity, explained 19-54% of the variance in fixer abundance, and unexpectedly was more important than fire frequency, biome, and continent. Nitrogen fixers were more abundant in arid environments; as a result, African savannas, which tend to be drier, were richer in nitrogen fixers than South American savannas. Fixer abundance converged on similar levels in forests in both continents. We conclude that climate plays a greater role than fire in determining the distribution of nitrogen fixers across tropical savanna and forest biomes.

  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. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. Ectomycorrhizal fungal communities of oak savanna are distinct from forest communities.

    PubMed

    Dickie, I A; Dentinger, B T M; Avis, P G; McLaughlin, D J; Reich, P B

    2009-01-01

    Oak savanna is one of the most endangered ecosystems of North America, with less than 0.02% of its original area remaining. Here we test whether oak savanna supports a unique community of ectomycorrhizal fungi, a higher diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi or a greater proportional abundance of ascomycete fungi compared with adjacent areas where the absence of fire has resulted in oak savanna conversion to oak forest. The overall fungal community was highly diverse and dominated by Cenococcum geophilum and other ascomycetes, Cortinarius, Russula, Lactarius and Thelephoraceae. Oak savanna mycorrhizal communities were distinct from oak forest communities both aboveground (sporocarp surveys) and belowground (RFLP identification of ectomycorrhizal root tips); however total diversity was not higher in oak savanna than oak forests and there was no evidence of a greater abundance of ascomycetes. Despite not having a higher local diversity than oak forests, the presence of a unique fungal community indicates that oak savanna plays an important role in maintaining regional ectomycorrhizal diversity.

  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. 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

  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.

  12. 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.

  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. Age-related tooth wear differs between forest and savanna primates.

    PubMed

    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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  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. 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.

  20. 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.

  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. Loss of a large grazer impacts savanna grassland plant communities similarly in North America and South Africa.

    PubMed

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

    2014-05-01

    Large herbivore grazing is a widespread disturbance in mesic savanna grasslands which increases herbaceous plant community richness and diversity. However, humans are modifying the impacts of grazing on these ecosystems by removing grazers. A more general understanding of how grazer loss will impact these ecosystems is hampered by differences in the diversity of large herbivore assemblages among savanna grasslands, which can affect the way that grazing influences plant communities. To avoid this we used two unique enclosures each containing a single, functionally similar large herbivore species. Specifically, we studied a bison (Bos bison) enclosure at Konza Prairie Biological Station, USA and an African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) enclosure in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Within these enclosures we erected exclosures in annually burned and unburned sites to determine how grazer loss would impact herbaceous plant communities, while controlling for potential fire-grazing interactions. At both sites, removal of the only grazer decreased grass and forb richness, evenness and diversity, over time. However, in Kruger these changes only occurred with burning. At both sites, changes in plant communities were driven by increased dominance with herbivore exclusion. At Konza, this was caused by increased abundance of one grass species, Andropogon gerardii, while at Kruger, three grasses, Themeda triandra, Panicum coloratum, and Digitaria eriantha increased in abundance.

  3. Identifying priority areas for ecosystem service management in South African grasslands.

    PubMed

    Egoh, Benis N; Reyers, Belinda; Rouget, Mathieu; Richardson, David M

    2011-06-01

    Grasslands provide many ecosystem services required to support human well-being and are home to a diverse fauna and flora. Degradation of grasslands due to agriculture and other forms of land use threaten biodiversity and ecosystem services. Various efforts are underway around the world to stem these declines. The Grassland Programme in South Africa is one such initiative and is aimed at safeguarding both biodiversity and ecosystem services. As part of this developing programme, we identified spatial priority areas for ecosystem services, tested the effect of different target levels of ecosystem services used to identify priority areas, and evaluated whether biodiversity priority areas can be aligned with those for ecosystem services. We mapped five ecosystem services (below ground carbon storage, surface water supply, water flow regulation, soil accumulation and soil retention) and identified priority areas for individual ecosystem services and for all five services at the scale of quaternary catchments. Planning for individual ecosystem services showed that, depending on the ecosystem service of interest, between 4% and 13% of the grassland biome was required to conserve at least 40% of the soil and water services. Thirty-four percent of the biome was needed to conserve 40% of the carbon service in the grassland. Priority areas identified for five ecosystem services under three target levels (20%, 40%, 60% of the total amount) showed that between 17% and 56% of the grassland biome was needed to conserve these ecosystem services. There was moderate to high overlap between priority areas selected for ecosystem services and already-identified terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity priority areas. This level of overlap coupled with low irreplaceability values obtained when planning for individual ecosystem services makes it possible to combine biodiversity and ecosystem services in one plan using systematic conservation planning.

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. Do "savanna" chimpanzees consume C4 resources?

    PubMed

    Sponheimer, M; Loudon, J E; Codron, D; Howells, M E; Pruetz, J D; Codron, J; de Ruiter, D J; Lee-Thorp, J A

    2006-08-01

    Several stable carbon isotopic studies have shown that South African australopiths consumed significant quantities of C(4) resources (tropical grasses, sedges, or animals that eat those foods), but relatively little is known about the consumption of such resources by chimpanzees. Here, we present stable carbon isotopic data for 36 chimpanzee hair samples from Fongoli, one of the driest and most open areas inhabited by chimpanzees. These data suggest that the Fongoli chimpanzees consume little in the way of C(4) vegetation or animals that eat such vegetation, even though these resources are locally abundant and preferred fruits are more widely scattered than at most chimpanzee study sites. The homogeneity of the Fongoli results is especially striking and recalls the narrow isotopic distribution of stenotopic savanna mammals. This is in stark contrast to what has been observed for australopiths, which had highly variable diets and consumed about 35% C(4) vegetation on average. Carbon isotope data for modern and fossil Papio depict a dietarily variable genus with a tendency to consume C(4) vegetation. This trophic flexibility, or willingness to consume C(4) savanna resources, may make Papio a more profitable ecological analog for australopiths than chimpanzees.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. Effects of restoring oak savannas on bird communities and populations.

    PubMed

    Brawn, Jeffrey D

    2006-04-01

    Efforts to restore and maintain oak savannas in North America, with emphasis on the use of prescribed fire, have become common. Little is known, however about how restoration affects animal populations, especially those of birds. I compared the breeding densities, community structure, and reproductive success of birds in oak savannas maintained by prescribed fire (12 sites) with those in closed-canopy forests (13 sites). All sampling was conducted in Illinois (U.S.A.). Of the 31 bird species analyzed, 12 were more common in savannas, 14 were not affected by habitat structure, and 5 were more common in forest habitat. The species favored by disturbance and restoration included Northern Bobwhites (Colinus virginianus), Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura), Red-headed Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), Indigo Buntings (Passerina cyanea), and Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula). Those more common in closed-canopy forest included Ovenbirds (Seiurus aurocapilla) and Wood Thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina). Few species were unique to one type of habitat, but overall avian community structure in oak savannas and closed-canopy forests was generally distinctive. Estimates of nesting success (derived from 785 nests) revealed that 6 of the 13 species considered experienced greater productivity in the savanna habitat. Rates of brood parasitism were unaffected by restoration and habitat structure. Within savannas, tract size had little effect on breeding abundances and reproductive success. My results illustrate that restoration techniques can significantly affect the ecology of constituent animal populations and communities and have key implications regarding avian conservation and the management of forest habitat in fragmented landscapes. Small patches of forest habitat that regularly function as population sinks may offer far better prospects for birds if they are subjected to disturbance and ecosystem restoration.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. Phylogenetic patterns of extinction risk in the eastern arc ecosystems, an African biodiversity hotspot.

    PubMed

    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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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...

  2. A disease-mediated trophic cascade in the Serengeti and its implications for ecosystem C.

    PubMed

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

    2009-09-01

    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 eruption 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Allocation strategies of savanna and forest tree seedlings in response to fire and shading: outcomes of a field experiment

    PubMed Central

    Gignoux, Jacques; Konaté, Souleymane; Lahoreau, Gaëlle; Le Roux, Xavier; Simioni, Guillaume

    2016-01-01

    The forest-savanna ecotone may be very sharp in fire-prone areas. Fire and competition for light play key roles in its maintenance, as forest and savanna tree seedlings are quickly excluded from the other ecosystem. We hypothesized a tradeoff between seedling traits linked to fire resistance and to competition for light to explain these exclusions. We compared growth- and survival-related traits of two savanna and two forest species in response to shading and fire in a field experiment. To interpret the results, we decomposed our broad hypothesis into elementary tradeoffs linked to three constraints, biomass allocation, plant architecture, and shade tolerance, that characterize both savanna and adjacent forest ecosystems. All seedlings reached similar biomasses, but forest seedlings grew taller. Savanna seedlings better survived fire after topkill and required ten times less biomass than forest seedlings to survive. Finally, only savanna seedlings responded to shading. Although results were consistent with the classification of our species as mostly adapted to shade tolerance, competition for light in the open, and fire tolerance, they raised new questions: how could savanna seedlings survive better with a 10-times lower biomass than forest seedlings? Is their shade intolerance sufficient to exclude them from forest understory? PMID:28000732

  6. Allocation strategies of savanna and forest tree seedlings in response to fire and shading: outcomes of a field experiment.

    PubMed

    Gignoux, Jacques; Konaté, Souleymane; Lahoreau, Gaëlle; Le Roux, Xavier; Simioni, Guillaume

    2016-12-21

    The forest-savanna ecotone may be very sharp in fire-prone areas. Fire and competition for light play key roles in its maintenance, as forest and savanna tree seedlings are quickly excluded from the other ecosystem. We hypothesized a tradeoff between seedling traits linked to fire resistance and to competition for light to explain these exclusions. We compared growth- and survival-related traits of two savanna and two forest species in response to shading and fire in a field experiment. To interpret the results, we decomposed our broad hypothesis into elementary tradeoffs linked to three constraints, biomass allocation, plant architecture, and shade tolerance, that characterize both savanna and adjacent forest ecosystems. All seedlings reached similar biomasses, but forest seedlings grew taller. Savanna seedlings better survived fire after topkill and required ten times less biomass than forest seedlings to survive. Finally, only savanna seedlings responded to shading. Although results were consistent with the classification of our species as mostly adapted to shade tolerance, competition for light in the open, and fire tolerance, they raised new questions: how could savanna seedlings survive better with a 10-times lower biomass than forest seedlings? Is their shade intolerance sufficient to exclude them from forest understory?

  7. Allocation strategies of savanna and forest tree seedlings in response to fire and shading: outcomes of a field experiment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gignoux, Jacques; Konaté, Souleymane; Lahoreau, Gaëlle; Le Roux, Xavier; Simioni, Guillaume

    2016-12-01

    The forest-savanna ecotone may be very sharp in fire-prone areas. Fire and competition for light play key roles in its maintenance, as forest and savanna tree seedlings are quickly excluded from the other ecosystem. We hypothesized a tradeoff between seedling traits linked to fire resistance and to competition for light to explain these exclusions. We compared growth- and survival-related traits of two savanna and two forest species in response to shading and fire in a field experiment. To interpret the results, we decomposed our broad hypothesis into elementary tradeoffs linked to three constraints, biomass allocation, plant architecture, and shade tolerance, that characterize both savanna and adjacent forest ecosystems. All seedlings reached similar biomasses, but forest seedlings grew taller. Savanna seedlings better survived fire after topkill and required ten times less biomass than forest seedlings to survive. Finally, only savanna seedlings responded to shading. Although results were consistent with the classification of our species as mostly adapted to shade tolerance, competition for light in the open, and fire tolerance, they raised new questions: how could savanna seedlings survive better with a 10-times lower biomass than forest seedlings? Is their shade intolerance sufficient to exclude them from forest understory?

  8. Savanna-Bush Environments Research.

    DTIC Science & Technology

    The savanna is a plant formation of tropical regions, comprising a virtually continuous ecologically dominant stratum of more or less xeromorphic plants ... of which herbaceous plants, especially grasses and sedges, are frequently the principal, and occasionally the only, components, although woody

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. Changes in Carbon Emissions in Colombian Savannas Derived From Recent Land use and Land Cover Change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Etter, A.; Sarmiento, A.

    2007-12-01

    The global contribution of carbon emissions from land use dynamics and change to the global carbon (C) cycle is still uncertain, a major concern in global change modeling. Carbon emission from fires in the tropics is significant and represents 9% of the net primary production, and 50% of worldwide C emissions from fires are attributable to savanna fires. Such emissions may vary significantly due to differences in ecosystem types. Most savanna areas are devoted to grazing land uses making methane emissions also important in savanna ecosystems. Land use change driven by intensification of grazing and cropping has become a major factor affecting C emission dynamics from savanna regions. Colombia has some 17 MHa of mesic savannas which have been historically burned. Due to changes in market demands and improved accessibility during the last 20 years, important areas of savannas changed land use from predominantly extensive grazing to crops and intensive grazing systems. This research models and evaluates the impacts of such land use changes on the spatial and temporal burning patterns and C emissions in the Orinoco savannas of Colombia. We address the effects of land use change patterns using remote sensing data from MODIS and Landsat, ecosystem mapping products, and spatial GIS analysis. First we map the expansion of the agricultural frontier from the 1980s-2000s. We then model the changes in land use from the 1980s using a statistical modeling approach to analyze and quantify the impact of accessibility, ecosystem type and land tenure. We calculate the effects on C emissions from fire regimes and other sources of C based on patterns and extent of burned areas in the 2000s for different savanna ecosystem types and land uses. In the Llanos the fire regime exhibits a marked seasonal variability with most fire events occurring during the dry season between December-March. Our analysis shows that fire frequencies vary consistently between 0.6 and 2.8 fires.yr-1 per 2

  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. 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

    2010-09-07

    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.

  14. Savanna burning methodology for fire management and emissions reduction: a critical review of influencing factors.

    PubMed

    Maraseni, Tek Narayan; Reardon-Smith, Kathryn; Griffiths, Greg; Apan, Armando

    2016-12-01

    Savanna fire is a major source of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In Australia, savanna fire contributes about 3% of annual GHG emissions reportable to the Kyoto Protocol. In order to reduce GHG emissions from savanna burning, the Australian government has developed and approved a Kyoto compliant savanna controlled burning methodology-the first legal instrument of this kind at a global level-under its Emission Reduction Fund. However, this approved methodology is currently only applicable to nine vegetation fuel types across northern parts of Australia in areas which receive on average over 600 mm rainfall annually, covering only 15.4% of the total land area in Australia. Savanna ecosystems extend across a large proportion of mainland Australia. This paper provides a critical review of ten key factors that need to be considered in developing a savanna burning methodology applicable to the other parts of Australia. It will also inform discussion in other countries intent on developing similar emissions reduction strategies.

  15. High-resolution forest canopy height estimation in an African blue carbon ecosystem.

    PubMed

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

    2015-10-01

    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 stereo-photogrammetric 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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...

  1. 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

  2. Inferences of Present and Past Changes at Isolated Enclaves and Matrix of Savannas by Carbon Isotopes in a Transitional Forest-Savanna Area in Northern Amazonia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Couto-Santos, F. R.; Luizao, F. J.; Camargo, P. B.

    2013-12-01

    The evolutionary history of savannas influenced by short term climate cycles, during the Quaternary Period, could prompt variations in forest cover often related to movements of the forest-savanna boundary. In this study we investigated current and past changes in the structure of vegetation and the origins of savannas of different natures in a biogeographically and climatic transitional forest-savanna area in northern Amazonia. Variations in the isotopic composition of soil organic matter (δ13C) from surface soils (0-10 cm) along forest-savanna boundaries, detected by a sigmoidal non-linear function, were used to identify current changes in vegetation, while past changes were inferred by discontinuities in the evolution of δ13C with soil depth using piecewise regression associated with radiocarbon dating (14C). By comparing small isolated savanna enclaves inside a strictly protected nature reserve (ESEC Maracá) with its outskirts unprotected continuous savanna matrix, we found that origins and the patterns of dynamics were distinct between these areas and did not respond in the same way to climate change and fire events, either in the last decades or during the Holocene. The stability of the present boundaries of the surrounding savanna matrix reflects the resilience of the transitional forests under a recent intensified fire regime and favorable climate, while the deep forest soil isotopic signal indicated a forest shrinkage of at least 70 m occurring since its origin in early Holocene until 780 years BP associated with a climate drier than the current one. Contrarily, the protected enclaves inside ESEC Maracá, remained stable since the middle Holocene, suggesting a non-anthropogenic origin related to soil edaphic conditions, but with recent dynamics of advancing forest by 8 m century-1 favored by current climate and lacking fire events. A detailed understanding of the origins of savannas of distinct natures and the way they are affected by climate and fire

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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...

  7. Influence of Vegetation Cover on Rain Pulse Responses in Semi-Arid Savannas in Central Texas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Litvak, M.; Heilman, J.; McInnes, K.; Thijs, A.; Kjelgaard, J.

    2007-12-01

    Savannas in central Texas are dominated by live oak (Quercus virginiana) and Ashe juniper (Juniperus asheii) underlain by perennial, C3/C4 grasslands, and are increasingly becoming juniper and mesquite dominated due to overgrazing and suppression of wildfires. Since 2004, we have been investigating how carbon, water and energy exchange in these rain-limited savannas respond to rainfall variability and this observed vegetation change. In semi-arid regions, rainfall pulses provide inputs of soil moisture and trigger biotic activity in the form of plant gas exchange and microbial metabolism as well as water dependent physical processes in the soil. Each of these components has a different characteristic response curve to soil moisture and integrates soil water content over a different range of depths. Here we focus on examining how the observed increase of woody species in central Texas savannas alters the response of net ecosystem exchange and its components, ecosystem respiration and gross ecosystem exchange, to rain pulses. Using data we have collected over the last three years from three Ameriflux tower sites at Freeman Ranch near San Marcos, TX (C3/C4 grassland, juniper/mesquite savanna with 50 percent woody cover, and oak/juniper woodland), we quantify the responses of both ecosystem respiration and daily carbon uptake to rainfall pulses throughout the year. Specifically, we look at the enhancement and persistence of ecosystem respiration and carbon uptake responses following a pulse, and isolate the main controlling factors on the observed response: seasonality, antecedent soil moisture and temperature, or previous pulses. In all three land covers, the general response to precipitation pulses is a respiration pulse followed by an increase in total carbon uptake. Differences in pulse responses observed at the savanna site compared to the grassland and woodland sites can be explained, in part, by the observed differences in rooting structure and photosynthetic

  8. Glacial interglacial cycles and development of the Afroalpine ecosystem on East African Mountains II. Origins and development of the biotic component

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harmsen, R.; Spence, J. R.; Mahaney, W. C.

    The development of the Afroalpine ecosystem as found on a number of isolated mountains in East Africa has a physical component and a biological component which is to a large degree dependent on the physical environment. The origins of the Afroalpine biota are predominantly African-tropical or Palearctic with smaller contributions from South Africa and other more distant sources. Once the ecosystem was established, dispersal from one mountain to others became a main source of increasing complexity. Ecological succession and evolutionary development from simple random assemblages of early invading species on unmodified substrates to complex interactive communities forming a closely integrated biosphere would have been the next stage in the development of the Afroalpine ecosystem. However, glacial interglacial cycles throughout the Pleistocene may have seriously curtailed this process. Detailed on early succession on Neoglacial tills on Mount Kenya supply a reasonable model for the larger scale recolonization of the upper reaches of the mountain following each glacial, and palynological evidence supplies a fairly accurate picture of the lower altitude glacial Afroalpine communities. Yet, our knowledge of the structure of the Afroalpine ecosystem during past glacials and interglacials is far too sketchy to be able to say how severe the effects of the climatic oscillations were on the development and maintenance of the Afroalpine ecosystem. Current conditions indicate a long history (c 2-3 mil yrs) of adaptation to above tree-line conditions for some organisms, but the entire ecosystem is still very young and will probably never be able to reach a successional or evolutionary equilibrium in the unstable climatic conditions of the Afroalpine environment.

  9. Modeling Gross Primary Production of Savanna Woodlands in Southern Africa Using MODIS Imagery and CO2 Flux Tower Data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jin, C.; Xiao, X.; Merbold, L.; Arneth, A.; Veenendaal, E.; Kutsch, W.

    2012-12-01

    Accurate estimation of gross primary production (GPP) of savanna ecosystem is valuable for evaluating the role of Africa in the global carbon cycle. An eddy flux observation network has been established to continuously measure the net CO2 fluxes (NEE) across various savanna vegetation types in Africa (CarboAfrica). Several publications have reported the seasonal dynamics and interannual variation of GPP for the savanna vegetation through partitioning of the measured NEE data. The satellite-based Production Efficiency Models (PEM), which calculate GPP as the product of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and light use efficiency (LUE), have been developed to scale up in situ GPP estimation from the eddy flux towers to regional scale. In this study, the Vegetation Photosynthesis Model (VPM) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data were evaluated for their capacity to model GPP for savanna woodlands at two eddy flux towers in Botswana and Zambia, respectively. These two sites have different woodland types and precipitation pattern (Mopane woodlands vs. Miombo woodlands, semi-arid vs. semi-humid). In the VPM model, GPP is simulated as the product of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), air temperature, Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI), and Land Surface Water Index (LSWI). The results show that the simulated GPP by the VPM track well the temporal dynamic of GPP estimated from the eddy covariance measurements at these two sites. In addition, the land surface phenology of savanna woodlands, described by the satellite vegetation indices, especially the water-sensitive satellite indices-LSWI, are proved to match the phenology based on vegetation physiology activity measured by eddy covariance towers. The information of the timing and duration of vegetation growing season is useful for assisting the VPM modeling. Further evaluation of VPM simulations for and other savanna ecosystems is necessary before the VPM model is applied to

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. The effect of sewage discharge on the ecosystem engineering activities of two East African fiddler crab species: consequences for mangrove ecosystem functioning.

    PubMed

    Bartolini, Fabrizio; Cimò, Filippo; Fusi, Marco; Dahdouh-Guebas, Farid; Lopes, Gil Penha; Cannicci, Stefano

    2011-02-01

    A number of studies have suggested that mangrove forests and their faunal components may be pre-adapted to the impact of organic waste discharge, making them possible natural wastewater treatment wetlands. However, the results from recent research are contradictory. Some studies have shown that negative effects, sometimes subtle and difficult to observe, can be detected on specific biotic components of forests subjected to organic pollution. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate possible alterations in the ecosystem engineering activities of a fiddler crab community dominating the landward belts of Kenyan mangrove forests. The total processed sediment produced by burrowing and foraging activities in a population from a peri-urban mangrove area receiving untreated domestic sewage was compared with that from a forest not affected by urban wastewater. The results showed how the peri-urban site hosted a higher biomass of crabs, which produced a significantly lower amount of processed sediment compared with the pristine site, resulting in a lower total top sediment mixing activity of the crabs. Thus, the present study showed a link between sewage exposure and top sediment reworking by crabs, which is potentially beneficial for mangrove growth and ecosystem functioning. This represents a possible example of cryptic ecological degradation in mangal systems.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Delta15N values of tropical savanna and monsoon forest species reflect root specialisations and soil nitrogen status.

    PubMed

    Schmidt, S; Stewart, G R

    2003-03-01

    species. Plants from annually burnt savanna had significantly higher delta(15)N values compared to plants from less frequently burnt savanna, suggesting that foliar (15)N natural abundance could be used as marker for assessing historic fire regimes. Australian woodland and savanna species had low leaf delta(15)N and N content compared to species from equivalent African communities indicating that Australian biota are the more N depauperate. The largest differences in leaf delta(15)N occurred between the dominant ECM Australian and African savanna (miombo) species, which were depleted and enriched in (15)N, respectively. While the depleted delta(15)N of Australian ECM species are similar to those of previous reports on ECM species in natural plant communities, the (15)N-enriched delta(15)N of African ECM species represent an anomaly.

  20. 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.

  1. 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

  2. Hotspots of N2O and CH4 emissions in tropical ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Castaldi, Simona; Bertolini, Teresa; Santini, Monia; Thongo M'Bou, Armel; De Grandcourt, Agnes; Nicolini, Giacomo; Valentini, Riccardo

    2013-04-01

    At global level, tropics represent the strongest biogenic source of N2O and CH4, with natural ecosystems having a comparable or even dominant role, in terms of source strength, respect to agro-ecosystems. The uncertainty related to both sources is very high, due to the paucity of data and small frequency of sampling in tropical studies. We present data of ongoing measurements of N2O and CH4 fluxes from tropical areas of the African continent spanning from savannas to humid forests and ephemeral wetlands. Natural and managed sites are also compared. A budget at African continental level is presented based on empirical relationships derived from a reanalysis of experimental published studies. Data show that humid tropical forests are the strongest N2O terrestrial source. Both spatial and temporal variability seem to be mainly driven by organic matter inputs. At Regional level annual N2O production follows a sigmoid distribution with rainfall, a key drivers of NPP. In presence of land conversion, agro-ecosystems are significant sources of N2O in the first year following deforestation, but after 10-15 years they strongly reduce their emissions compared with primary forests. Wetlands are the strongest source of CH4 but humid forests, when analysed at landscape level, present lowland hotspots of CH4 emissions which counterbalance the CH4 sink of upland areas. Also the CH4 sink from seasonally dry areas seems weaker than previous estimates.

  3. Long term monitoring of the chemical composition of precipitation and wet deposition fluxes over three Sahelian savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Laouali, D.; Galy-Lacaux, C.; Diop, B.; Delon, C.; Orange, D.; Lacaux, J. P.; Akpo, A.; Lavenu, F.; Gardrat, E.; Castera, P.

    2012-04-01

    The purpose of this study is to analyze a long term database of the chemical composition of precipitation at three African dry savanna sites in the Sahel. The precipitation samples were collected during the monsoon season at Agoufou (15°20‧N, 01°29‧W, Mali) from 2004 to 2006, Banizoumbou (13°31‧N, 02°38‧E, Niger) from 1994 to 2009 and Katibougou (12°56‧N, 07°32‧ W, Mali) from 1997 to 2008. pH and major inorganic and organic ions in precipitation were analyzed by ionic chromatography. A characterization of mean precipitation chemistry with the associated wet deposition fluxes for each species is presented. The first important result is that interannual variability of all volume-weighted mean (VWM) concentrations is low, ranging between ±5% and ±25%. Acidity in dry savannas is low and indicates the strong alkaline nature of the precipitation. The average annual pH at Agoufou is 6.28, 5.75 at Banizoumbou and 5.54 at Katibougou. This result is correlated with the important terrigenous contribution measured in the chemical content of precipitation, implying acidity neutralization by mineral species such as Ca2+ and NH4+. Mg2+ and K+ are found to play a minor role in neutralization. Enrichment factor calculations for Ca2+, SO42-, K+ and Mg2+ with respect to the sea reference reveal a significant influence of Saharan and Sahelian crustal sources. VWM concentrations of these species dominate the composition of measured precipitation. An estimation of the potential particulate and gas contribution to the total precipitation composition is given for each site: At Agoufou, the mean relative contribution in rainwater is 80% for particles and 20% for gases, while at the Banizoumbou and Katibougou sites, results indicate 70% for particles and 30% for gases. The high particulate phase contribution to precipitation emphasizes the importance of multiphase processes between gases and particles in the atmospheric chemistry typical of African semi-arid savanna

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  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. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. Quantifying the relative importance of greenhouse gas emissions from current and future savanna land use change across northern Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bristow, Mila; Hutley, Lindsay B.; Beringer, Jason; Livesley, Stephen J.; Edwards, Andrew C.; Arndt, Stefan K.

    2016-11-01

    The clearing and burning of tropical savanna leads to globally significant emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs); however there is large uncertainty relating to the magnitude of this flux. Australia's tropical savannas occupy the northern quarter of the continent, a region of increasing interest for further exploitation of land and water resources. Land use decisions across this vast biome have the potential to influence the national greenhouse gas budget. To better quantify emissions from savanna deforestation and investigate the impact of deforestation on national GHG emissions, we undertook a paired site measurement campaign where emissions were quantified from two tropical savanna woodland sites; one that was deforested and prepared for agricultural land use and a second analogue site that remained uncleared for the duration of a 22-month campaign. At both sites, net ecosystem exchange of CO2 was measured using the eddy covariance method. Observations at the deforested site were continuous before, during and after the clearing event, providing high-resolution data that tracked CO2 emissions through nine phases of land use change. At the deforested site, post-clearing debris was allowed to cure for 6 months and was subsequently burnt, followed by extensive soil preparation for cropping. During the debris burning, fluxes of CO2 as measured by the eddy covariance tower were excluded. For this phase, emissions were estimated by quantifying on-site biomass prior to deforestation and applying savanna-specific emission factors to estimate a fire-derived GHG emission that included both CO2 and non-CO2 gases. The total fuel mass that was consumed during the debris burning was 40.9 Mg C ha-1 and included above- and below-ground woody biomass, course woody debris, twigs, leaf litter and C4 grass fuels. Emissions from the burning were added to the net CO2 fluxes as measured by the eddy covariance tower for other post-deforestation phases to provide a total GHG emission from

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Nutrient resorption patterns of plant functional groups in a tropical savanna: variation and functional significance.

    PubMed

    Ratnam, Jayashree; Sankaran, Mahesh; Hanan, Niall P; Grant, Rina C; Zambatis, Nick

    2008-08-01

    Green and senesced leaf nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations of different plant functional groups in savanna communities of Kruger National Park, South Africa were analyzed to determine if nutrient resorption was regulated by plant nutritional status and foliar N:P ratios. The N and P concentrations in green leaves and the N concentrations in senesced leaves differed significantly between the dominant plant functional groups in these savannas: fine-leaved trees, broad-leaved trees and grasses. However, all three functional groups reduced P to comparable and very low levels in senesced leaves, suggesting that P was tightly conserved in this tropical semi-arid savanna ecosystem. Across all functional groups, there was evidence for nutritional control of resorption in this system, with both N and P resorption efficiencies decreasing as green leaf nutrient concentrations increased. However, specific patterns of resorption and the functional relationships between nutrient concentrations in green and senesced leaves varied by nutrient and plant functional group. Functional relationships between N concentrations in green and senesced leaves were indistinguishable between the dominant groups, suggesting that variation in N resorption efficiency was largely the result of inter-life form differences in green leaf N concentrations. In contrast, observed differences in P resorption efficiencies between life forms appear to be the result of both differences in green leaf P concentrations as well as inherent differences between life forms in the fraction of green leaf P resorbed from senescing leaves. Our results indicate that foliar N:P ratios are poor predictors of resorption efficiency in this ecosystem, in contrast to N and P resorption proficiencies, which are more responsive to foliar N:P ratios.

  6. 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.

  7. Influence of conspecific and heterospecific adults on riparian tree species establishment during encroachment of a humid palm savanna.

    PubMed

    Rolhauser, Andrés G; Chaneton, Enrique J; Batista, William B

    2011-09-01

    Woody plant encroachment of savanna ecosystems has been related to altered disturbance regimes, mainly fire suppression and herbivore exclusion. In contrast, neighbourhood interactions among resident and colonising woody species have received little attention, despite their likely influence on the pattern and rate of tree establishment. We examined how resident palm trees (Butia yatay) and established adults of two riparian forest tree species (Allophylus edulis and Sebastiania commersoniana) influenced seed arrival and seedling performance of the latter two species in a humid savanna of east-central Argentina. Seed traps and seedlings of both riparian species were placed in herbaceous openings, and beneath palm, conspecific and heterospecific adult trees in two unburned savanna patches, and were monitored for 2 years. Only seeds of the bird-dispersed Allophylus arrived in palm microsites, yet survival of Allophylus seedlings near adult palms was limited by animal damage through trampling and burrowing, a non-trophic mechanism of apparent competition. Seeds of both riparian species dispersed into conspecific microsites, although adult trees selectively reduced growth of conspecific seedlings, a pattern consistent with the "escape hypothesis". Further, survival of Sebastiania increased in the moister Allophylus microsites, suggesting a one-way facilitative interaction between woody colonisers. Our results indicate that dispersal facilitation by resident savanna trees may be critical to riparian species invasion after fire suppression. Distance-dependent effects of conspecific and heterospecific adult trees could contribute to shape the subsequent dynamics of woody seedling establishment. Overall, we show that indirect interactions can play a prominent role in savanna encroachment by non-resident woody species.

  8. Critical Influences on Carbon Balances and Production in the Man-made Montado Savanna of Portugal

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pereira, J.; Tenhunen, J.; Dinh, N. Q.; Reichstein, M.; Ribeiro, N.

    2005-12-01

    The "montado savanna" of Portugal provides ecosystem services in the form of cork from Quercus suber trees and understory forage for grazing animals. The production system is controlled directly by physical factors along regional climate and hydrological gradients as well as by human influences on fire, grazing and tree population dynamics (planting and plowing for fire control). We present an analysis of carbon and water exchange at montado savanna sites that is based on long-term eddy covariance measurements, ecophysiological field studies and process-based modelling. A pixel-oriented model set up for spatial simulations, estimates gas fluxes between vegetation and the atmosphere separately for the tree and understory compartments (subsequently combining these), allows for herbage growth and LAI development, and predicts physiological gas exchange restrictions (stomatal regulation) and herb dieback in response to reduced water availability over annual courses. Model validation has been carried out via comparisons with eddy covariance observations at the MITRA II site in Evora, Portugal. Ground level observations of ecosystem structure (LAI and tree cover), aerial photography, Landsat images, and MODIS remotely sensed data are utilized to apply the modelling and to estimate fluxes at landscape, regional and continental scales (Mediterranean basin) for similar vegetation. Potential links to tree growth models and socio-economic models are discussed.

  9. Tree-grass phenology information improves light use efficiency modelling of gross primary productivity for an Australian tropical savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2017-01-01

    The coexistence of trees and grasses in savanna ecosystems results in marked phenological dynamics that vary spatially and temporally with climate. Australian savannas comprise a complex variety of life forms and phenologies, from evergreen trees to annual/perennial grasses, producing a boom-bust seasonal pattern of productivity that follows the wet-dry seasonal rainfall cycle. As the climate changes into the 21st century, modification to rainfall and temperature regimes in savannas is highly likely. There is a need to link phenology cycles of different species with productivity to understand how the tree-grass relationship may shift in response to climate change. This study investigated the relationship between productivity and phenology for trees and grasses in an Australian tropical savanna. Productivity, estimated from overstory (tree) and understory (grass) eddy covariance flux tower estimates of gross primary productivity (GPP), was compared against 2 years of repeat time-lapse digital photography (phenocams). We explored the phenology-productivity relationship at the ecosystem scale using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) vegetation indices and flux tower GPP. These data were obtained from the Howard Springs OzFlux/Fluxnet site (AU-How) in northern Australia. Two greenness indices were calculated from the phenocam images: the green chromatic coordinate (GCC) and excess green index (ExG). These indices captured the temporal dynamics of the understory (grass) and overstory (trees) phenology and were correlated well with tower GPP for understory (r2 = 0.65 to 0.72) but less so for the overstory (r2 = 0.14 to 0.23). The MODIS enhanced vegetation index (EVI) correlated well with GPP at the ecosystem scale (r2 = 0.70). Lastly, we used GCC and EVI to parameterise a light use efficiency (LUE) model and found it to improve the estimates of GPP for the overstory, understory and ecosystem. We conclude that phenology is an important parameter to

  10. Elephants in the understory: opposing direct and indirect effects of consumption and ecosystem engineering by megaherbivores.

    PubMed

    Coverdale, Tyler C; Kartzinel, Tyler R; Grabowski, Kathryn L; Shriver, Robert K; Hassan, Abdikadir A; Goheen, Jacob R; Palmer, Todd M; Pringle, Robert M

    2016-11-01

    Positive indirect effects of consumers on their resources can stabilize food webs by preventing overexploitation, but the coupling of trophic and non-trophic interactions remains poorly integrated into our understanding of community dynamics. Elephants engineer African savanna ecosystems by toppling trees and breaking branches, and although their negative effects on trees are well documented, their effects on small-statured plants remain poorly understood. Using data on 117 understory plant taxa collected over 7 yr within 36 1-ha experimental plots in a semi-arid Kenyan savanna, we measured the strength and direction of elephant impacts on understory vegetation. We found that elephants had neutral effects on most (83-89%) species, with a similar frequency of positive and negative responses among the remainder. Overall, estimated understory biomass was 5-14% greater in the presence of elephants across a range of rainfall levels. Whereas direct consumption likely accounts for the negative effects, positive effects are presumably indirect. We hypothesized that elephants create associational refuges for understory plants by damaging tree canopies in ways that physically inhibit feeding by other large herbivores. As predicted, understory biomass and species richness beneath elephant-damaged trees were 55% and 21% greater, respectively, than under undamaged trees. Experimentally simulated elephant damage increased understory biomass by 37% and species richness by 49% after 1 yr. Conversely, experimentally removing elephant damaged branches decreased understory biomass by 39% and richness by 30% relative to sham-manipulated trees. Camera-trap surveys revealed that elephant damage reduced the frequency of herbivory by 71%, whereas we detected no significant effect of damage on temperature, light, or soil moisture. We conclude that elephants locally facilitate understory plants by creating refuges from herbivory, which countervails the direct negative effects of

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Determinants of flammability in savanna grass species.

    PubMed

    Simpson, Kimberley J; Ripley, Brad S; Christin, Pascal-Antoine; Belcher, Claire M; Lehmann, Caroline E R; Thomas, Gavin H; Osborne, Colin P

    2016-01-01

    Tropical grasses fuel the majority of fires on Earth. In fire-prone landscapes, enhanced flammability may be adaptive for grasses via the maintenance of an open canopy and an increase in spatiotemporal opportunities for recruitment and regeneration. In addition, by burning intensely but briefly, high flammability may protect resprouting buds from lethal temperatures. Despite these potential benefits of high flammability to fire-prone grasses, variation in flammability among grass species, and how trait differences underpin this variation, remains unknown.By burning leaves and plant parts, we experimentally determined how five plant traits (biomass quantity, biomass density, biomass moisture content, leaf surface-area-to-volume ratio and leaf effective heat of combustion) combined to determine the three components of flammability (ignitability, sustainability and combustibility) at the leaf and plant scales in 25 grass species of fire-prone South African grasslands at a time of peak fire occurrence. The influence of evolutionary history on flammability was assessed based on a phylogeny built here for the study species.Grass species differed significantly in all components of flammability. Accounting for evolutionary history helped to explain patterns in leaf-scale combustibility and sustainability. The five measured plant traits predicted components of flammability, particularly leaf ignitability and plant combustibility in which 70% and 58% of variation, respectively, could be explained by a combination of the traits. Total above-ground biomass was a key driver of combustibility and sustainability with high biomass species burning more intensely and for longer, and producing the highest predicted fire spread rates. Moisture content was the main influence on ignitability, where species with higher moisture contents took longer to ignite and once alight burnt at a slower rate. Biomass density, leaf surface-area-to-volume ratio and leaf effective heat of combustion

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Fire and home range expansion: a behavioral response to burning among savanna dwelling vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops).

    PubMed

    Herzog, Nicole M; Parker, Christopher H; Keefe, Earl R; Coxworth, James; Barrett, Alan; Hawkes, Kristen

    2014-08-01

    The behavioral adaptations of primates to fire-modified landscapes are of considerable interest to anthropologists because fire is fundamental to life in the African savanna-the setting in which genus Homo evolved. Here we report the behavioral responses of a savanna-dwelling primate, vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops), to fire-induced ecological change. Using behavioral and spatial data to characterize ranging patterns prior to and postburn and between burn and nonburn years, we show that these primates inhabiting small, spatially bound, riverine habitats take advantage of newly burned savanna landscapes. When subjects encountered controlled fires, they did not flee but instead avoided the path of the fire seemingly unbothered by its approach. After fire, the primates' home range expanded into newly burned but previously unused areas. These results contribute to understanding the response of non-human primates to fire-modified landscapes and can shed light on the nature and scope of opportunities and constraints posed by the emergence of fire-affected landscapes in the past. Results also expose deficiencies in our knowledge of fire-related behavioral responses in the primate lineage and highlight the need for further investigation of these responses as they relate to foraging opportunities, migration, resource use, and especially fire-centric adaptations in our own genus.

  19. Multiple ecosystem services in a working landscape

    PubMed Central

    Eastburn, Danny J.; O’Geen, Anthony T.; Tate, Kenneth W.; Roche, Leslie M.

    2017-01-01

    Policy makers and practitioners are in need of useful tools and models for assessing ecosystem service outcomes and the potential risks and opportunities of ecosystem management options. We utilize a state-and-transition model framework integrating dynamic soil and vegetation properties to examine multiple ecosystem services—specifically agricultural production, biodiversity and habitat, and soil health—across human created vegetation states in a managed oak woodland landscape in a Mediterranean climate. We found clear tradeoffs and synergies in management outcomes. Grassland states maximized agricultural productivity at a loss of soil health, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services. Synergies existed among multiple ecosystem services in savanna and woodland states with significantly larger nutrient pools, more diversity and native plant richness, and less invasive species. This integrative approach can be adapted to a diversity of working landscapes to provide useful information for science-based ecosystem service valuations, conservation decision making, and management effectiveness assessments. PMID:28301475

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Methane emission from tropical savanna Trachypogon sp. grasses

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sanhueza, E.; Donoso, L.

    2006-11-01

    Methane flux measurements from the soil-grass system were made during the wet season in unperturbed plots and plots where standing dry and green Trachypogon sp. grasses were clipped to just above the soil surface. Results support the surprising discovery that vegetation emits methane. The results of this work allows to infer that the savanna dry/green mixture of grasses produce methane at a rate of ~10 ng m-2 s-1, which is in agreement with early published soil-grass system fluxes. An extrapolation of this flux to the global savanna produces an annual emission much lower than the CH4 production recently suggested in the literature. On the other hand, during the wet season savanna soil consume CH4 at a rate of ~4.7 ng m-2 s-1. Therefore, the tropical savanna soil-grass system would make a modest contribution to the global budget of methane.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in sub-Saharan savannas of Benin, West Africa, as affected by agricultural land use intensity and ecological zone.

    PubMed

    Tchabi, Atti; Coyne, Danny; Hountondji, Fabien; Lawouin, Louis; Wiemken, Andres; Oehl, Fritz

    2008-04-01

    richness were generally higher in the natural savannas and under yam than at the other cultivated sites and lowest under the intensively managed cotton. In the fallows, species richness was intermediate, indicating that the high richness of the natural savannas was not restored. Surprisingly, higher species richness was observed in the SU than in the SG and NG, mainly due to a high proportion of species in the Gigasporaceae, Acaulosporaceae, and Glomeraceae. We conclude that the West African savannas contain a high natural AM fungal species richness, but that this natural richness is significantly affected by the common agricultural land use practices and appears not to be quickly restored by fallow.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Expanding our understanding of leaf functional syndromes in savanna systems: the role of plant growth form.

    PubMed

    Rossatto, Davi Rodrigo; Franco, Augusto Cesar

    2017-04-01

    The assessment of leaf strategies has been a common theme in ecology, especially where multiple sources of environmental constraints (fire, seasonal drought, nutrient-poor soils) impose a strong selection pressure towards leaf functional diversity, leading to inevitable tradeoffs among leaf traits, and ultimately to niche segregation among coexisting species. As diversification on leaf functional strategies is dependent on integration at whole plant level, we hypothesized that regardless of phylogenetic relatedness, leaf trait functional syndromes in a multivariate space would be associated with the type of growth form. We measured traits related to leaf gas exchange, structure and nutrient status in 57 coexisting species encompassing all Angiosperms major clades, in a wide array of plant morphologies (trees, shrubs, sub-shrubs, herbs, grasses and palms) in a savanna of Central Brazil. Growth forms differed in mean values for the studied functional leaf traits. We extracted 4 groups of functional typologies: grasses (elevated leaf dark respiration, light-saturated photosynthesis on a leaf mass and area basis, lower values of leaf Ca and Mg), herbs (high values of SLA, leaf N and leaf Fe), palms (high values of stomatal conductance, leaf transpiration and leaf K) and woody eudicots (sub-shrubs, shrubs and trees; low SLA and high leaf Ca and Mg). Despite the large range of variation among species for each individual trait and the independent evolutionary trajectory of individual species, growth forms were strongly associated with particular leaf trait combinations, suggesting clear evolutionary constraints on leaf function for morphologically similar species in savanna ecosystems.

  12. 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

  13. Linking soil moisture with chemical quality of soil organic matter to evaluate belowground carbon storage in savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mladenov, N.; Okin, G. S.; O'Donnell, F. C.; D'Odorico, P.; Meyer, T.; Dintwe, K.; Caylor, K. K.; Kim, S.; Ringrose, S.

    2010-12-01

    Belowground carbon storage is a function of soil organic carbon content and soil respiration, and both of these factors are profoundly influenced by soil moisture. Soil organic matter (SOM) comprises a broad pool, including labile plant residues, microbial biomass and more biologically recalcitrant humic substances. Water extractable organic carbon (WEOC) represents the active fraction of SOM that becomes available for decomposition during wetting, and the chemical quality of WEOC provides information about its biodegradability. Under conditions of decreasing soil moisture, both the SOC pool and soil respiration are expected to decrease, but depending on the rates of both the net effect on soil carbon storage is unclear. Therefore, in the semiarid savanna ecosystem, the influence of WEOC chemical quality on SOM mineralization and soil respiration may be extremely important. In this study, we address this notion by comparing SOC content, C:N ratios, and SOM quality at two savanna sites in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana with contrasting soil moisture content. We present new results showing higher SOC content and more humified SOC in the wetter savanna site. Evidence from UV-vis absorbance and fluorescence spectroscopy also suggests that at the drier site, there is great contrast with respect to the degree of humification in soils beneath and between canopy than at the wetter site. The WEOC at both sites also contains a substantial amount of amino acid-like fluorescence (Fig. 1) that may be derived from microbial biomass. Our SOM characterization at these two sites is being applied in SOC dynamics model validation. We will also discuss the implications of our findings for belowground C sequestration in light of projected climate change for the region. Fig 1. Representative fluorescence excitation emission matrices from WEOC under A. mellifera canopy (top) and bare ground (bottom) at the dry savanna site.

  14. 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.

  15. Comparative Intradermal Tuberculin Testing of Free-Ranging African Buffaloes (Syncerus caffer) Captured for Ex Situ Conservation in the Kafue Basin Ecosystem in Zambia

    PubMed Central

    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. PMID:21776347

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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...

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Methane emission from tropical savanna Trachypogon sp. grasses

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sanhueza, E.; Donoso, L.

    2006-07-01

    Methane flux measurements from the soil-grass system were made during the wet season in unperturbed plots and plots where standing dry and green Trachypogon sp. grasses were clipped to just above the soil surface. Results support the surprising discovery that vegetation emits methane. The dry/green mixture of grasses produce methane at a rate of ~10 ng m-2 s-1, which extrapolated to the global savanna would produce an annual emission of ~5 Tg, much lower than the production recently suggested in the literature. On the other hand, during the wet season savanna soil consume CH4 at a rate of ~4.7 ng m-2 s-1, producing a global sink of ~1.3 Tg yr-1. Therefore, the tropical savanna soil-grass system would make a modest contribution to the global budget of methane.

  3. Effects of Alien Plants on Ecosystem Structure and Functioning and Implications for Restoration: Insights from Three Degraded Sites in South African Fynbos

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gaertner, Mirijam; Richardson, David M.; Privett, Sean D. J.

    2011-07-01

    We investigated the type and extent of degradation at three sites on the Agulhas Plain, South Africa: an old field dominated by the alien grass Pennisetum clandestinum Pers . (kikuyu), an abandoned Eucalyptus plantation, and a natural fynbos community invaded by nitrogen fixing—Australian Acacia species. These forms of degradation are representative of many areas in the region. By identifying the nature and degree of ecosystem degradation we aimed to determine appropriate strategies for restoration in this biodiversity hotspot. Vegetation surveys were conducted at degraded sites and carefully selected reference sites. Soil-stored propagule seed banks and macro- and micro-soil nutrients were determined. Species richness, diversity and native cover under Eucalyptus were extremely low compared to the reference site and alterations of the soil nutrients were the most severe. The cover of indigenous species under Acacia did not differ significantly from that in reference sites, but species richness was lower under Acacia and soils were considerably enriched. Native species richness was much lower in the kikuyu site, but soil nutrient status was similar to the reference site. Removal of the alien species alone may be sufficient to re-initiate ecosystem recovery at the kikuyu site, whereas active restoration is required to restore functioning ecosystems dominated by native species in the Acacia thicket and the Eucalyptus plantation. To restore native plant communities we suggest burning, mulching with sawdust and sowing of native species.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. Black carbon formation by savanna fires: Measurements and implications for the global carbon cycle

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kuhlbusch, T. A. J.; Andreae, M. O.; Cachier, H.; Goldammer, J. G.; Lacaux, J.-P.; Shea, R.; Crutzen, P. J.

    1996-10-01

    During a field study in southern Africa (Southern African Fire-Atmosphere Research Initiative (SAFARI-92)), black carbon formation was quantified in the residues of savanna fires. The volatilization ratios of C, H, N, and S were determined by measuring their contents in the fuel and residue loads on six experimental sites. The volatilization of sulfur (86 ± 8%) was significantly higher than previously reported. Volatilization of H, N, and S was significantly correlated with that of carbon, enabling us to estimate their volatilization during savanna fires by extrapolation from those of carbon. By partitioning the residues in various fractions (unburned, partially burned, and ash), a strong correlation between the H/C ratio in the residue and the formation of black carbon was obtained. The ratio of carbon contained in ash to carbon contained in the unburned and partially burned fraction is introduced as an indicator of the degree of charring. As nitrogen was enriched in the residue, especially in the ash fraction of >0.63 mm, this indicator may be useful for an assessment of nutrient cycling. We show that the formation of black carbon is dependent on the volatilization of carbon as well as the degree of charring. The ratio of black carbon produced to the carbon exposed to the fire in this field study (0.6-1.5%) was somewhat lower than in experimental fires under laboratory conditions (1.0-1.8%) which may be due to less complete combustion. The average ratio of black carbon in the residue to carbon emitted as CO2 ranged from 0.7 to 2.0%. Using these ratios together with various estimates of carbon exposed or emitted by savanna fires, the worldwide black carbon formation was estimated to be 10-26 Tg C yr-1 with more than 90% of the black carbon remaining on the ground. The formation of this black carbon is a net sink of biospheric carbon and thus of atmospheric CO2 as well as a source of O2.

  9. The magnitude and persistence of soil NO, N2O, CH4, and CO2 fluxes from burned tropical savanna in Brazil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Poth, Mark; Anderson, Iris Cofman; Miranda, Heloisa Sinatora; Miranda, Antonio Carlos; Riggan, Philip J.

    1995-12-01

    Among all global ecosystems, tropical savannas are the most severely and extensively affected by anthropogenic burning. Frequency of fire in cerrado, a type of tropical savanna covering 25% of Brazil, is 2 to 4 years. In 1992 we measured soil fluxes of NO, N2O, CH4, and CO2 from cerrado sites that had been burned within the previous 2 days, 30 days, 1 year, and from a control site last burned in 1976. NO and N2O fluxes responded dramatically to fire with the highest fluxes observed from newly burned soils after addition of water. Emissions of N-trace gases after burning were of similar magnitude to estimated emissions during combustion. NO fluxes immediately after burning are among the highest observed for any ecosystem studied to date. These rates declined with time after burning and had returned to control levels 1 year after the burn. An assessment of our data suggested that tropical savanna, burned or unburned, is a major source of NO to the troposphere. Cerrado appeared to be a minor source of N2O and a sink for atmospheric CH4. Burning also elevated CO2 fluxes, which remained detectably elevated 1 year later.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Contributions of microbial activity and ash deposition to post-fire nitrogen availability in a pine savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ficken, Cari D.; Wright, Justin P.

    2017-01-01

    Many ecosystems experience drastic changes to soil nutrient availability associated with fire, but the magnitude and duration of these changes are highly variable among vegetation and fire types. In pyrogenic pine savannas across the southeastern United States, pulses of soil inorganic nitrogen (N) occur in tandem with ecosystem-scale nutrient losses from prescribed burns. Despite the importance of this management tool for restoring and maintaining fire-dependent plant communities, the contributions of different mechanisms underlying fire-associated changes to soil N availability remain unclear. Pulses of N availability following fire have been hypothesized to occur through (1) changes to microbial cycling rates and (2) direct ash deposition. Here, we document fire-associated changes to N availability across the growing season in a longleaf pine savanna in North Carolina. To differentiate between possible mechanisms driving soil N pulses, we measured net microbial cycling rates and changes to soil δ15N before and after a burn. Our findings refute both proposed mechanisms: we found no evidence for changes in microbial activity, and limited evidence that ash deposition could account for the increase in ammonium availability to more than 5-25 times background levels. Consequently, we propose a third mechanism to explain post-fire patterns of soil N availability, namely that (3) changes to plant sink strength may contribute to ephemeral increases in soil N availability, and encourage future studies to explicitly test this mechanism.

  13. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal assemblages in biological crusts from a Neotropical savanna are not related to the dominant perennial Trachypogon.

    PubMed

    Hernández-Hernández, R M; Roldán, A; Caravaca, F; Rodriguez-Caballero, G; Torres, M P; Maestre, F T; Alguacil, M M

    2017-01-01

    Knowledge of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal assemblages in the Trachypogon savanna ecosystems is very important to a better understanding of the ecological processes mediated by this soil microbial group that affects multiple ecosystem functions. Considering the hypothesis that the biocrusts can be linked to vegetation through the arbuscular fungi mycelial network, the objectives proposed in this study were to determine (i) whether there are arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in the biocrusts (ii) whether arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal assemblages are linked to the Trachypogon patches, and (iii) whether the composition of the assemblages is related to soil properties affected by microbiological activity. The community structure of the AMF was investigated in three habitats: rhizospheric soil and roots of Trachypogon vestitus, biological soil crusts, and bare soil. The canonical correspondence analysis showed that two soil properties related to enzymatic activity (protease and β-glucosidase) significantly affected the community composition of the AMF. The biocrusts in the Venezuelan savanna are colonized by an AM fungal community linked to that of the bare soil and significantly different from that hosted by the roots of the surrounding T. vestitus, suggesting that assemblages of AMF in biocrusts might be related more closely to those of annual plant species appearing in favorable conditions.

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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…

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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.

  2. Soil seed banks confer resilience to savanna grass-layer plants during seasonal disturbance

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Scott, Kenneth; Setterfield, Samantha; Douglas, Michael; Andersen, Alan

    2010-03-01

    An understanding of soil seed bank processes is crucial for understanding vegetation dynamics, particularly in ecosystems experiencing frequent disturbance. This paper examines seed bank dynamics in a tropical savanna in northern Australia, an environment characterised by frequent fire and highly seasonal rainfall. In particular, we examine the contribution of seed bank processes to the high level of resilience shown by grass-layer vegetation in relation to fire. We assess the spatial congruence between seed bank composition and extant vegetation, document temporal variation in the germinable seed bank over the annual dry season, test the effects of laboratory-applied heat and smoke treatments on seed germinability, and determine the effect of experimental fires on seed bank composition. Although dominant species were shared, the composition of the germinable seed bank was significantly different to that of extant vegetation, with approximately half the extant species not being detected in the seed bank. The density and species richness of germinable seeds was significantly greater in the late dry season than the early dry season, with annual grasses showing particularly high levels of seed dormancy in the early dry season. The density and species richness of germinable seeds in the seed bank was significantly enhanced by laboratory-applied treatments of smoke and especially heat, driven by the response of legumes. However, fire had no significant effect on the density or species richness of germinable seeds in the field, indicating soil temperatures during fire were too low to overcome physical dormancy, or burial was too deep to experience adequate heating or smoke exposure. Our results provide a mechanistic understanding of the persistence of annual grasses and forbs in an environment subject to frequent fire and highly seasonal rainfall, and, together with the sprouting capacity of perennial grasses, explain the high resilience of savanna grass-layer plants in

  3. Ecosystem Services

    EPA Pesticide Factsheets

    Ecosystem goods and services are the many life-sustaining benefits we receive from nature and contribute to environmental and human health and well-being. Ecosystem-focused research will develop methods to measure ecosystem goods and services.

  4. 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

  5. Multiple ecosystem services in a working landscape.

    PubMed

    Eastburn, Danny J; O'Geen, Anthony T; Tate, Kenneth W; Roche, Leslie M

    2017-01-01

    Policy makers and practitioners are in need of useful tools and models for assessing ecosystem service outcomes and the potential risks and opportunities of ecosystem management options. We utilize a state-and-transition model framework integrating dynamic soil and vegetation properties to examine multiple ecosystem services-specifically agricultural production, biodiversity and habitat, and soil health-across human created vegetation states in a managed oak woodland landscape in a Mediterranean climate. We found clear tradeoffs and synergies in management outcomes. Grassland states maximized agricultural productivity at a loss of soil health, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services. Synergies existed among multiple ecosystem services in savanna and woodland states with significantly larger nutrient pools, more diversity and native plant richness, and less invasive species. This integrative approach can be adapted to a diversity of working landscapes to provide useful information for science-based ecosystem service valuations, conservation decision making, and management effectiveness assessments.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Reconciling Apparent Conflicts between Mitochondrial and Nuclear Phylogenies in African Elephants

    PubMed Central

    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

  9. [Fungal and bacterial biomass as indicators of soil C sequestration in savannas soils substituted by pine plantations].

    PubMed

    Zabala, Magalis; Gómez, Yrma

    2010-09-01

    A transformation of any natural ecosystem to an agricultural or forest system leads to an important soil modification, not only in the total carbon pool, but also in the carbon associated to the microbial biomass. This way, carbon quantification on soil quality is important for the determination of impacts of agricultural practices and land use changes. The aim of this study was to the determine, through the selective inhibition technique, the fungal and bacterial biomass, and fungal-to-bacterial ratio (F:B) in pine plantations (Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis), to establish if these parameters are sensible indicators of changes in the carbon content in Uverito soils (Venezuela). Furthermore, the inhibitor additivity ratio (IAR) and total combined inhibition (TCI) were carried out to determine if the antibiotics caused non-target inhibition. The quantification of fungal and bacterial biomass was carried out by using of cyloheximide as fungal inhibitor, and streptomycin and chloranphenicol as specific bacterial inhibitors. This research evidences that this land use change exerted a significant effect on soil microbial biomass, and shows that in pine plantations there is a dominance of the fungal component, in contrast to the native savanna, in which the bacterial biomass dominates. The substitution of native savanna by pine plantation in Uverito promotes a major soil carbon sequestration. The values of the inhibitor additivity ratio (IAR) as for native savanna as pine system, were both >1.0. The total combined inhibition (TCI) was smaller in the pine systems, from which it is possible to infer that a high proportion of microbial biomass was affected by the combination of the inhibitors.

  10. Dynamics of viable nitrifier community, N-mineralization and nitrification in seasonally dry tropical forests and savanna.

    PubMed

    Singh, J S; Kashyap, A K

    2006-01-01

    The study was conducted in Vindhyan region, to assess the N-mineralization, nitrification and size of viable community of ammonium- and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria as affected by different sites and seasons. Six different ecosystems (four forests and two savannas), which differ in terms of topography, vegetation and moisture status, were selected for the present study. The soils of the study sites differ significantly in its physico-chemical properties. The savanna site had significantly higher pH (7.2), bulk density (1.37 g cm(-3)) and silt content (67.80%) but lower water holding capacity (1.37%), total-C (16,356 microg g(-1) dry soil), N (1090 microg g(-1) dry soil) and P (213 microg g(-1) dry soil) than forest sites. The soil moisture content, N-mineralization, nitrification rates and numbers of ammonium- and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria were highest in the wet season and lowest in dry season, while the size of mineral-N (NH4(+)-N and NO3(-)-N) showed a reverse trend at the sites. The N-mineralization, nitrification and nitrifier population size differ significantly across the site and season. The numbers of free-living cells of ammonium- and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria were significantly related to each other and to N-mineralization, nitrification, soil moisture and mineral-N components. The N-mineralization, nitrification and the viable number of nitrifying cells were consistently higher for forest soils compared to savanna sites. It was concluded that soil microbial process (N-mineralization and nitrification) and nitrifier population size were dependent on site topography, vegetation cover and soil moisture status.

  11. 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.

  12. Multiparametric approach for assessing environmental quality variations in West African aquatic ecosystems using the black-chinned tilapia (Sarotherodon melanotheron) as a sentinel species.

    PubMed

    Ndiaye, Awa; Sanchez, Wilfried; Durand, Jean-Dominique; Budzinski, Hélène; Palluel, Olivier; Diouf, Khady; Ndiaye, Papa; Panfili, Jacques

    2012-11-01

    The study highlights the potential of the black-chinned tilapia to be used as a sentinel to assess environmental contaminants based on the use of a set of biomarkers. The usefulness of fish species as sentinels for assessing aquatic environment contamination was tested using a set of biomarkers in Senegalese environments characterized by multi-pollution sources. The black-chinned tilapia (Sarotherodon melanotheron) was selected as a sentinel because of its abundance, wide distribution in all coastal aquatic ecosystems and physiological properties. The potential influence of confounding factors such as salinity on biomarker in the tilapia has been examined. Individuals were sampled during two seasons (dry and wet) in eight sites characterized by various degrees of anthropogenic contamination and different salinities (from 0 to 102 psu). Biomarkers-including growth rate (GR), condition factor (CF), biotransformation enzymes such as 7-ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) and glutathione-S-transferase (GST), lipid peroxidation (TBARS) and acetylcholinesterase (AChE)-were measured. Chemical contaminant [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs)] levels showed different sources of contamination with relatively high concentrations of PAHs in the Hann Bay and Foundiougne locations. The most sensitive biomarker present in different sites according to the principal component analysis is EROD. Few variations of the AChE activity and TBARS levels were found. No clear relationship was found between biomarker responses and salinity, but GR and CF were lower in hypersaline conditions. Tilapia is responsive to environmental contaminants such as PAHs, OCPs and PCBs. The S. melanotheron multiparametric approach showed a better discrimination of sites.

  13. 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

  14. Microbial Diversity in Cerrado Biome (Neotropical Savanna) Soils.

    PubMed

    de Castro, Alinne Pereira; 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. Particle and Gas Emissions From a Savanna Fire From Biomass Burning in Southern Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Hobbs, P. V.; Sinha, P.; Jilek, B.; Yokelson, R. J.; Blake, D. R.

    2001-12-01

    Airborne measurements of the emissions of particles and gases from a 1000 ha prescribed savanna fire in the Timbavati Game Park, South Africa, were obtained on September 7, 2000, during the Southern African Fire-Atmosphere Research Initiative 2000 (SAFARI-2000) field study. These measurements provide enhancement ratios and emission factors at various points downwind of the fire for a number of gaseous and particulate species, including CO2, CO, SO2, NOx, methane, non-methane hydrocarbons, halocarbons, organic acids, ionic aerosol, organic aerosols, and condensation nuclei (CN). The structure of the plume is revealed by profiles of CN concentrations and light scattering along the length of the plume. The decay of reactive hydrocarbons and the complementary formation of formaldehyde, ozone, and acetic acid are shown downwind of the fire. Aerosol size distributions show increases in concentrations of particles greater than 0.1 μ m in diameter with increasing distance from the fire. As the fire aged, emission factors of CO2 decreased while those of CO increased, indicating a shift from flaming to smoldering combustion. Vertical profiles of trace gases show peaks in water vapor, SO2, O3, and CN beneath strong temperature inversions above the fire. >http://cargsun2.atmos.washington.edu/sys/research/safari/

  18. Are fire, soil fertility and toxicity, water availability, plant functional diversity, and litter decomposition related in a Neotropical savanna?

    PubMed

    Carvalho, Gustavo Henrique; Batalha, Marco Antônio; Silva, Igor Aurélio; Cianciaruso, Marcus Vinicius; Petchey, Owen L

    2014-07-01

    Understanding how biodiversity and ecosystem functioning respond to changes in the environment is fundamental to the maintenance of ecosystem function. In realistic scenarios, the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning path may account for only a small share of all factors determining ecosystem function. Here, we investigated the strength to which variations in environmental characteristics in a Neotropical savanna affected functional diversity and decomposition. We sought an integrative approach, testing a number of pairwise hypotheses about how the environment, biodiversity, and functioning were linked. We used structural equation modelling to connect fire frequency, soil fertility, exchangeable Al, water availability, functional diversity of woody plants, tree density, tree height, and litter decomposition rates in a causal chain. We found significant effects of soil nutrients, water availability, and Al on functional diversity and litter decomposition. Fire did not have a significant direct effect on functional diversity or litter decomposition. However, fire was connected to both variables through soil fertility. Functional diversity did not influence rates of litter decomposition. The mediated effects that emerged from pairwise interactions are encouraging not only for predicting the functional consequences of changes in environmental variables and biodiversity, but also to caution against predictions based on only environmental or only biodiversity change.

  19. Cyto-nuclear genomic dissociation and the African elephant species question.

    PubMed

    Roca, Alfred L; Georgiadis, Nicholas; O'Brien, Stephen J

    2007-07-01

    Studies of skull morphology and of nuclear DNA have strongly concluded that African elephants comprise two species. Nonetheless, Debruyne (2005) has suggested a single-species model for Loxodonta based on the polyphyly of a single genetic locus, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Discordant patterns between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers were subsequently reported in some African savanna elephant populations, further supporting a two-species model, and prompting us to re-examine here the geographic distribution of different elephant morphotypes and their relationship to nuclear and mtDNA phylogeographic patterns. We used exact tests to compare the distribution of forest elephant-typical and savanna elephant-typical characteristics across eight published datasets containing morphological, mtDNA or nuclear DNA data for African elephants. Among the elephants examined by Debruyne (2005), we found that patterns of forest vs. savanna characteristics were significantly different (p < 10(-5)) between mtDNA and morphology, suggesting the presence of cyto-nuclear genomic dissociation. We show that the eight African elephant continent-wide datasets compared, including that of Debruyne (2005), together support a two-species model with cyto-nuclear genomic dissociation rather than a one-species model, and together indicate that Africa harbors two species of elephant.

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. The effect of management systems and ecosystem types on bark regeneration in Himatanthus drasticus (Apocynaceae): recommendations for sustainable harvesting.

    PubMed

    Baldauf, Cristina; Maës dos Santos, Flavio Antonio

    2014-01-01

    Bark and exudates are widely commercialized non-timber forest products. However, the ecological impacts of the harvesting of these products have seldom been studied. The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship of tree resilience to harvesting intensity in Himatanthus drasticus, a tree that is highly exploited in the Brazilian savanna (Cerrado) for its medicinal latex. Although the traded product is the latex, the traditional harvesting systems involve the removal of the bark of the trees to allow exploitation. A 3-year experiment was conducted in two different Cerrado ecosystems (open savanna and savanna woodland). Trees were debarked at four debarking intensities to simulate the effects of traditional management systems. Measurements of bark growth were taken every 6 months, and quantitative and qualitative indexes of bark regeneration were obtained. The mortality of the debarked trees was low and could not be related to the intensity of harvesting. No signs of attack by fungi or insects were recorded. Compared with other species exploited for bark, H. drasticus is very resilient to harvesting; however, bark regeneration is relatively slow. In both analyzed ecosystems, the regeneration indexes showed higher values in the controls than in the treatments, indicating that 3 years is not sufficient for total recovery of the rhytidome. Bark regeneration occurred primarily by sheet growth and was more rapid in open savanna than in savanna woodland. No differences in the rate of bark recovery were found among management treatments. Based on the results, sustainable harvesting guidelines are suggested for the species.

  7. 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…

  8. 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.

  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. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. CO2 exchange over a mixed-grassland savanna in Central Brazil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Arruda, Paulo

    2014-03-01

    We used eddy covariance technique to measure the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of CO2 between the atmosphere and an savanna in Central Brazil (locally known as cerrado), from February 2011 to February 2013, the data set included measurements of climatological variables. This part of brazilian savana has a long history of land cover change due to human activity, mainly due agricultural activity. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the temporal variation in energy flux in areas of degraded, grass-dominated cerrado (locally known as campo sujo) in Central Brazil. The NEE variability is controlled mainly by solar radiation, temperature and air humidity on diel course. Seasonally, soil moisture and changes on land cover plays a strong role on the ecossystem. Daytime CO2 uptake under high irradiance averaged 4-12 μ mol .m-2 . s-1 in the wet season (October to April) and 0-3 μ mol . m2 . s-1 on the dry season (May to September). The net sign of NEE is negative (sink) during of the wet season and positive (source) in the dry season.

  13. Measurements of CO2 exchange over a mixed-grassland savanna in Central Brazil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Arruda, P. H.; Vourlitis, G. L.; Santanna, F. B.; Pinto-Jr, O. B.; Nogueira, J. D.

    2013-12-01

    We used eddy covariance technique to measure the net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of CO2 between the atmosphere and an savanna in Central Brazil (locally known as cerrado), from February 2011 to February 2013, the data set included measurements of climatological variables. This part of brazilian savana has a long history of land cover change due to human activity, mainly due agricultural activity. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the temporal variation in energy flux in areas of degraded, grass-dominated cerrado (locally known as campo sujo) in Central Brazil. The NEE variability is controlled mainly by solar radiation, temperature and air humidity on diel course. Seasonally, soil moisture and changes on land cover plays a strong role on the ecossystem. Daytime CO2 uptake under high irradiance averaged 4-12 μmol m-2 s-1 in the wet season (October to April) and 0-3 μmol m-2 s-1 on the dry season (May to September). The net sign of NEE is negative (sink) during of the wet season and positive (source) in the dry season.

  14. Effects of resource availability on seedling recruitment in a fire-maintained savanna.

    PubMed

    Iacona, Gwenllian D; Kirkman, L Katherine; Bruna, Emilio M

    2010-05-01

    The herbaceous ground cover of the longleaf pine ecosystem harbors the highest plant species richness in North America, with up to 50 species per square meter, but the mechanisms that regulate this diversity are not well understood. In this system, variability in seedling recruitment events may best explain the extremely high small-scale species richness and its relationship to soil moisture and system net primary productivity. To understand the potential mechanistic controls on species richness, we used a long-term resource manipulation study across a natural soil moisture gradient to assess environmental controls on seedling recruitment. We considered the availability of resources to be an indicator of seedling safe-site supply, and also manipulated seed availability to examine the relative importance of recruitment limitations on seedling diversity. We found that water availability regulated the number of species in the seedling community regardless of the underlying natural moisture gradient, and that this effect may result from differential responses of seedling guilds to resource availability. Water supply was more important than seed supply in determining seedling establishment, suggesting that appropriate sites for regeneration are a factor limiting seedling success. This is the first study that shows that the episodic supply of microsites for recruitment could influence species richness in the highly threatened and biodiverse longleaf pine savanna.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Comparison of Infiltrability Measurements in the Thornbush Savanna, Namibia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Classen, Nikolaus; Gröngröft, Alexander; Eschenbach, Annette

    2010-05-01

    Large proportions of Namibian Savannas are affected by strong bush encroachment leading to a reduction in grazing capacity. Especially woody plant encroachment is expected to have an impact on hydrology by increasing plant transpiration, bare soil evaporation and reducing soil water availability (HUXMAN et al. 2005). Although the processes are not fully understood, the role of soil water balance is highlighted by many studies. Especially the small-scale interactions of vegetation and soil are of high relevance. To characterize the water balance of different sites in the Namibian thornbush savanna long-term studies were conducted. In addition we applied three methods to quantify the infiltration rate (IR) at four central Namibian thornbush savanna sites differing in soil texture and vegetation type: a single ring (own construction, 14 cm inner diameter), a disc-infiltrometer (Eijkelkamp Agrisearch Equipment BV) and a hood infiltrometer (UGT Umwelt-Geräte-Technik GmbH). At each site, the measurements we conducted along short transect lines (15 m) in positions with differing plant influence (canopy of Acacia trees and shrubs, grass and dwarf-shrub tussocks, bare soil, termitaria). All three methods resulted in different mean IR as well as spatial distribution patterns. Using statistical analysis by ANOVA, dominant controlling variables were elaborated. The poster will demonstrate which of the methods is defensible with respect to the research question. References : HUXMAN, T. E., B. P. WILCOX, et al. (2005): Ecohydrological implications of woody plant encroachment. Ecology 86(2): 308-319. Acknowledgment: The work was founded by BMBF within the Project Biota South (support code 01LC 0624 A2).

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Mediterranean savanna of Acacia caven (Mol) is still a sink of CO2 in spite of severe hydrological drought conditions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bravo-Martínez, F.; Meza, F. J.

    2012-12-01

    An eddy covariance tower was set up to monitor net ecosystem exchange (NEE) on a mediterranean shrubland of Acacia caven (Mol) in October 2010. This ecosystem (commonly referred as "espinal") is one of the most abundant land covers of Chile's central valley (2.000.000 ha). The last two years (2010-2011) were characterized by the occurrence of a severe drought (rainfall deficit 56%) and a small increase in temperature evaluated using a climatic change index (Peterson, 2005). We also detected a strong reduction in vegetation index during this period (evaluated using MODIS imagery). The historical analysis of the enhanced vegetation index (EVI) and leaf area index (LAI) showed that water status of the acacia savanna were at a minimum during this period (record of 14 years of data). The annual balance of NEE of 2011 was -54gC m-2 y-1, which means that the espinal is a sink of atmospheric CO2 notwithstanding the many stressors on photosynthesis. Monthly analysis of NEE shows the strong dependence of ecosystem fluxes on phenological state. Maximum rates of assimilation are a consequence of grassland activity, whereas secondary picks during the year (late spring and early autumn) are attributed to the semideciduos leaf of A. caven. Climatic conditions during the study season, confirm the tremendous plasticity of Acacia caven and its role as a colonizer of degraded sclerophyll forest because it adaptation to water and thermal stress.

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. Continuous evapotranspiration monitoring and water stress at watershed scale in a Mediterranean oak savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Carpintero, E.; González Dugo, M. P.; Hain, C.; Nieto, H.; Gao, F.; Andreu, A.; Kustas, W. P.; Anderson, M. C.

    2016-10-01

    The regular monitoring of the evapotranspiration rates and their links with vegetation conditions and soil moisture may support management and hydrological planning leading to reduce the economic and environmental vulnerability of complex water-controlled Mediterranean ecosystems. In this work, the monitoring of water use over a basin with a predominant oak savanna (known in Spain as dehesa) was conducted for two years, 2013 and 2014, monitoring ET at both fine spatial and temporal resolution in different seasons. A global 5 km daily ET product, developed with the ALEXI model and MODIS day-night temperature difference, was used as starting point. Flux estimations with higher spatial resolutions were obtained with the associated flux disaggregation scheme, DisALEXI, using surface temperature data from the polar orbiting satellites MODIS (1 Km, daily) and Landsat 7/8 (60-120m and sharpened to 30m, 16 days) and the previously estimated coarse resolution fluxes. The results achieved supported the ability of this scheme to accurately estimate daytime-integrated energy fluxes over this system, using input data with different spatio-temporal resolution and without the need for ground observations. Daily ET series at 30 m spatial resolution, generated using STARFM fusion technique, has provided a significant improvement in spatial heterogeneity assessment of the ET series, with RMSE values of 0.56 and 0.68 mm/day for each year, representing an enhancement with respect to interpolated Landsat series. In summary, this approach was demostrated to be robust and operative to map ET at watershed scale with a suitable spatial and temporal resolution for applications over the dehesa ecosystem.

  4. 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

  5. Water use Efficiency in a Blue oak ( Quercus douglasii) Savanna - a Combined Analysis of Stable Isotopes and Eddy Covariance Measurements

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Mambelli, S.; Tu, K. P.; Knohl, A.; Ma, S.; Baldocchi, D. D.; Dawson, T. E.

    2007-12-01

    Understanding the relationship between carbon assimilation and water consumption by natural vegetation is needed to assess how changes in climate will affect plant carbon and water exchange as well as the energy fluxes of ecosystems. While climate change is expected to cause significant warming, most models also suggest changes in the timing and amount of precipitation received; thus implications of this type of change are particularly acute in Mediterranean regions of the world. Blue oak savannas are already exposed to broad variation in water availability and to severe droughts during the summer months. Our objective was to evaluate the trade-off between carbon gain and water loss (Water Use Efficiency) in this ecosystem at both the leaf and at the ecosystem scales. We monitored the ratio of the partial pressures of CO2 inside the leaf (Ci) and in the outside air (Ca) or Ci/Ca, during the summer months of three subsequent years. This ratio is determined by the balance between photosynthetic capacity and stomatal conductance to water loss. Leaf-level estimates for individual trees were based on the carbon isotope composition (δ13C) of bulk leaf tissue and of recently fixed carbohydrates (leaf soluble sugars). These leaf and individual tree based estimates were then compared with canopy-level estimates derived from continuous eddy covariance measurements of fluxes of CO2, water vapor and meteorological variables from two eddy covariance systems, one above (23m) and one below (2m) the tree canopy. We found that savanna Blue oak trees cope with severe drought through coordinated down-regulation of carbon and water fluxes, i.e. the ratio Ci/Ca remained stable over four summer months, despite decreasing soil water content and leaf water potentials. Stable C isotope composition of leaf soluble sugars is the most robust measure of Ci/Ca because it reflects the initial discrimination of photosynthetic products, without the confounding effects ascribed to storage, tissue

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Modelling Fire Frequency in a Cerrado Savanna Protected Area

    PubMed Central

    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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. Pan-African genetic structure in the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer): investigating intraspecific divergence.

    PubMed

    Smitz, Nathalie; Berthouly, Cécile; Cornélis, Daniel; Heller, Rasmus; Van Hooft, Pim; Chardonnet, Philippe; Caron, Alexandre; Prins, Herbert; van Vuuren, Bettine Jansen; De Iongh, Hans; Michaux, Johan

    2013-01-01

    The African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) exhibits extreme morphological variability, which has led to controversies about the validity and taxonomic status of the various recognized subspecies. The present study aims to clarify these by inferring the pan-African spatial distribution of genetic diversity, using a comprehensive set of mitochondrial D-loop sequences from across the entire range of the species. All analyses converged on the existence of two distinct lineages, corresponding to a group encompassing West and Central African populations and a group encompassing East and Southern African populations. The former is currently assigned to two to three subspecies (S. c. nanus, S. c. brachyceros, S. c. aequinoctialis) and the latter to a separate subspecies (S. c. caffer). Forty-two per cent of the total amount of genetic diversity is explained by the between-lineage component, with one to seventeen female migrants per generation inferred as consistent with the isolation-with-migration model. The two lineages diverged between 145 000 to 449 000 years ago, with strong indications for a population expansion in both lineages, as revealed by coalescent-based analyses, summary statistics and a star-like topology of the haplotype network for the S. c. caffer lineage. A Bayesian analysis identified the most probable historical migration routes, with the Cape buffalo undertaking successive colonization events from Eastern toward Southern Africa. Furthermore, our analyses indicate that, in the West-Central African lineage, the forest ecophenotype may be a derived form of the savanna ecophenotype and not vice versa, as has previously been proposed. The African buffalo most likely expanded and diverged in the late to middle Pleistocene from an ancestral population located around the current-day Central African Republic, adapting morphologically to colonize new habitats, hence developing the variety of ecophenotypes observed today.

  13. Pan-African Genetic Structure in the African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer): Investigating Intraspecific Divergence

    PubMed Central

    Smitz, Nathalie; Berthouly, Cécile; Cornélis, Daniel; Heller, Rasmus; Van Hooft, Pim; Chardonnet, Philippe; Caron, Alexandre; Prins, Herbert; van Vuuren, Bettine Jansen; De Iongh, Hans; Michaux, Johan

    2013-01-01

    The African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) exhibits extreme morphological variability, which has led to controversies about the validity and taxonomic status of the various recognized subspecies. The present study aims to clarify these by inferring the pan-African spatial distribution of genetic diversity, using a comprehensive set of mitochondrial D-loop sequences from across the entire range of the species. All analyses converged on the existence of two distinct lineages, corresponding to a group encompassing West and Central African populations and a group encompassing East and Southern African populations. The former is currently assigned to two to three subspecies (S. c. nanus, S. c. brachyceros, S. c. aequinoctialis) and the latter to a separate subspecies (S. c. caffer). Forty-two per cent of the total amount of genetic diversity is explained by the between-lineage component, with one to seventeen female migrants per generation inferred as consistent with the isolation-with-migration model. The two lineages diverged between 145 000 to 449 000 years ago, with strong indications for a population expansion in both lineages, as revealed by coalescent-based analyses, summary statistics and a star-like topology of the haplotype network for the S. c. caffer lineage. A Bayesian analysis identified the most probable historical migration routes, with the Cape buffalo undertaking successive colonization events from Eastern toward Southern Africa. Furthermore, our analyses indicate that, in the West-Central African lineage, the forest ecophenotype may be a derived form of the savanna ecophenotype and not vice versa, as has previously been proposed. The African buffalo most likely expanded and diverged in the late to middle Pleistocene from an ancestral population located around the current-day Central African Republic, adapting morphologically to colonize new habitats, hence developing the variety of ecophenotypes observed today. PMID:23437100

  14. 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.

  15. 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...

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Evaluating channel morphology in small watersheds of oak savannas Southeastern New Mexico, USA: Do seasonal prescribed burn treatments have a significant impact on sediment processes?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Koestner, Karen; Neary, Daniel; Gottfried, Gerald; Tecle, Aregai

    2010-05-01

    Oak-savannas comprise over 80,000 km2 of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. However, there is a paucity of data to assist in the management of this vast ecotype. Fire, which was once the most important natural disturbance in this system, has been excluded due to over-grazing and fire suppression practices. This has resulted in ecosystem changes and fuel accumulations. Prescribed fire is one management technique to restore natural processes within southwestern oak-savannas by reducing woody species density, increasing herbaceous plant production, and creating vegetative mosaics on the landscape. However, questions concerning the seasonality of burn treatments and the overall effects of these treatments on physical and ecological processes need to be addressed prior to broad management application. The Cascabel Watershed Study is a collaborative effort between multiple government agencies, universities, local land managers, and environmental interest groups to evaluate the impacts of warm and cool season burn treatments on an array of ecosystem processes. Established in 2000, the Cascabel Watershed study takes an "ecosystem approach" to watershed research by examining an array of physical and biological components, including geomorphologic, climatologic, hydrologic, and biologic (flora and fauna) data to determine ecosystem response to prescribed fire. The 182.6 ha study area is located in the eastern Peloncillo Mountains, New Mexico at about the 1,640 m elevation. It consists of 12 small watersheds dominated by an oak (Quercus spp.) overstory and bunch-grass (Bouteloua spp.), savanna component. The parent material is fine-grained Tertiary rhyolite that is part of an extensive lava field that was formed about 25 to 27 M ybp. A US Forest Service soil survey in the area classified 45% of the soils as Typic Haplustolls, coarse-loamy, mixed, mesic, 25% as Typic Haplustalfs, and 15% rock outcrops. Here, we evaluate within-channel processes to establish

  19. 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.

  20. Surface Energy Balance: Lessons Learned from Modeling Simulations and Field Measurements at an Oak-grass Savanna in California

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ma, S.; Baldocchi, D. D.; Vila-Guerau Arellano, J.; Osuna, J. L.; Wharton, S.

    2013-12-01

    The eddy-covariance method has been applied successfully in investigating CO2 fluxes exchanged between atmosphere and ecosystem over a relatively long period of time (e.g., annual or multi-years), but understanding uncertainties associated with the measurements is an ongoing task. While modeling efforts integrate our best knowledge of biophysical processes, model uncertainty is also unavoidable. The question is often asked how well modeling simulations can agree with field measurements. In this study, we intended to learn lessons from uncertainties of both approaches. We compare results of a meteorological, process-based model, Chemistry Land-surface Atmosphere Soil Slab (CLASS) model, with our field measurements at an oak-grass savanna ecosystem (Tonzi Ranch, Ione, California). The CLASS model, based on the mixed-layer theory coupled to a dynamic vegetation and soil model, reproduces the surface energy balance, surface carbon dioxide processes and boundary layer dynamics. We systematically study different days in 2012, including a wet spring day (Apr. 19), a dry summer day (Sep. 26), and an autumn day immediately following a rain event (Oct. 26). The model-simulated net radiation agrees well with direct measurements in the field. The boundary layer height predicted by the model agrees with estimates radiosonde profile measurements. The model predicts lower sensible and latent heat fluxes than tower-derived values. Although the eddy-covariance method likely underestimates these two energy terms due to loss of high- or low-frequency turbulence, the amount of heat stored in the surface litter layer and tree canopy could also be significant for this type of ecosystem. Because the model has not included these heat storage terms or modified key parameters specifically for this type of ecosystem, results of the model provide a starting point to understand uncertainties in the field measurements. Effects of drought and rain events on surface energy balance will also be

  1. Contrasting physiological responses to excess heat and irradiance in two tropical savanna sedges

    PubMed Central

    John-Bejai, C.; Farrell, A. D.; Cooper, F. M.; Oatham, M. P.

    2013-01-01

    Tropical hyperseasonal savannas provide a rare example of a tropical climax community dominated by graminoid species. Species living in such savannas are frequently exposed to excess heat and light, in addition to drought and waterlogging, and must possess traits to avoid or tolerate these stress factors. Here we examine the contrasting heat and light stress adaptations of two dominant savanna sedges: Lagenocarpus guianensis, which is restricted to the sheltered forest edge, and Lagenocarpus rigidus, which extends from the forest edge to the open savanna. An ecotone extending from the forest edge to the open savanna was used to assess differences in a range of physiological traits (efficiency of photosystem II, cell membrane thermostability, stomatal conductance, leaf surface reflectance and canopy temperature depression) and a range of leaf functional traits (length : width ratio, specific leaf area and degree of folding). Lagenocarpus guianensis showed significantly less canopy temperature depression than L. rigidus, which may explain why this species was restricted to the forest edge. The range of leaf temperatures measured was within the thermal tolerance of L. guianensis and allowed photosystem II to function normally, at least within the cool forest edge. The ability of L. rigidus to extend into the open savanna was associated with an ability to decouple leaf temperature from ambient temperature combined with enhanced cell membrane thermostability. The high degree of canopy temperature depression seen in L. rigidus was not explained by enhanced stomatal conductance or leaf reflectance, but was consistent with a capacity to increase specific leaf area and reduce leaf length: width ratio in the open savanna. Plasticity in leaf functional traits and in cell membrane thermostability are key factors in the ability of this savanna sedge to survive abiotic stress. PMID:24379971

  2. 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.

  3. 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…

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. Airborne studies of aerosol emissions from savanna fires in southern Africa: 2. Aerosol chemical composition

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Andreae, M. O.; Andreae, T. W.; Annegarn, H.; Beer, J.; Cachier, H.; Le Canut, P.; Elbert, W.; Maenhaut, W.; Salma, I.; Wienhold, F. G.; Zenker, T.

    1998-12-01

    We investigated smoke emissions from fires in savanna, forest, and agricultural ecosystems by airborne sampling of plumes close to prescribed burns and incidental fires in southern Africa. Aerosol samples were collected on glass fiber filters and on stacked filter units, consisting of a Nuclepore prefilter for particles larger than ˜1-2 μm and a Teflon second filter stage for the submicron fraction. The samples were analyzed for soluble ionic components, organic carbon, and black carbon. Onboard the research aircraft, particle number and volume distributions as a function of size were determined with a laser-optical particle counter and the black carbon content of the aerosol with an aethalometer. We determined the emission ratios (relative to CO2 and CO) and emission factors (relative to the amount of biomass burnt) for the various aerosol constituents. The smoke aerosols were rich in organic and black carbon, the latter representing 10-30% of the aerosol mass. K+ and NH4+ were the dominant cationic species in the smoke of most fires, while Cl- and SO42- were the most important anions. The aerosols were unusually rich in Cl-, probably due to the high Cl content of the semiarid vegetation. Comparison of the element budget of the fuel before and after the fires shows that the fraction of the elements released during combustion is highly variable between elements. In the case of the halogen elements, almost the entire amount released during the fire is present in the aerosol phase, while in the case of C, N, and S, only a small proportion ends up as particulate matter. This suggests that the latter elements are present predominantly as gaseous species in the fresh fire plumes studied here.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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…

  11. African Pentecostalism

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Garrard, David J.

    2009-01-01

    The diversity of African Pentecostalism, its early colonial and missionary history and its current characteristics are described and analysed. Reference is made to methods of training and forms of leadership, and suggestions are made about the reasons for its growth and persistence. (Contains 19 notes.)

  12. 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

  13. 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 impacts. In the seasonal tropics of north Australia, the alien C4 perennial grass Andropogon gayanus (gamba grass) has transformed diverse, mixed tree-grass savanna ecosystems into dense monocultures. To better understand the mechanisms of invasion, we compared resource acquisition and usage efficiency using leaf-scale ecophysiological and stand-scale growth traits of A. gayanus with a co-habiting native C4 perennial grass Alloteropsis semialata. Under wet season conditions, A. gayanus had higher rates of stomatal conductance, assimilation, and water use, plus a longer daily assimilation period than the native species A. semialata. Growing season length was also ~2 months longer for the invader. Wet season measures of leaf scale water use efficiency (WUE) and light use efficiency (LUE) did not differ between the two species, although photosynthetic nitrogen use efficiency (PNUE) was significantly higher in A. gayanus. By May (dry season) the drought avoiding native species A. semialata had senesced. In contrast, rates of A. gayanus gas exchange was maintained into the dry season, albeit at lower rates that the wet season, but at higher WUE and PNUE, evidence of significant physiological plasticity. High PNUE and leaf 15N isotope values suggested that A. gayanus was also capable of preferential uptake of soil ammonium, with utilization occurring into the dry season. High PNUE and fire tolerance in an N-limited and highly flammable ecosystem confers a significant competitive advantage over native grass species and a broader niche width. As a result A. gayanus is rapidly spreading across north Australia with significant consequences for biodiversity and carbon and retention. PMID:26300890

  14. Anthelmintic activity of plant extracts from Brazilian savanna.

    PubMed

    Oliveira, Andreia F; Costa Junior, Livio M; Lima, Aldilene S; Silva, Carolina R; Ribeiro, Maria N S; Mesquista, José W C; Rocha, Cláudia Q; Tangerina, Marcelo M P; Vilegas, Wagner

    2017-03-15

    Helminth infections represent a serious problem for the production of small ruminants that is currently aggravated by resistance to anthelmintic products and has induced a search for control alternatives, such as natural products. In this study, extracts of Turnera ulmifolia L. (leaves and roots), Parkia platycephala Benth. (leaves and seeds) and Dimorphandra gardneriana Tul. (leaves and bark), which have been cited in ethnoveterinary studies and selected naturally by goats in the cerrado (Brazilian savanna), were tested in vitro against Haemonchus contortus. Hydroacetonic (ACT) and hydroalcoholic (ETH) extracts were evaluated using an Egg Hatching Assay (EHA), a Larval Exsheathment Inhibition Assay (LEIA) and a Larval Development Assay (LDA). A second set of incubations was performed using polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP) to determine the influence of polyphenols on the anthelmintic effects of EHA and LEIA. Data from each extract were used to calculate inhibition concentrations (IC50). All tested extracts showed activity against at least one life stage of H. contortus. The use of PVPP revealed that the tannins are not the only extracts of secondary metabolites responsible for the anthelmintic effects. The results showed clear in vitro anthelmintic activities against H. contortus at different stages and indicated the potential use of these species as a promising alternative approach to control helminthic infections of small ruminants.

  15. Groundwater uptake by woody vegetation in a semiarid oak savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Miller, Gretchen R.; Chen, Xingyuan; Rubin, Yoram; Ma, Siyan; Baldocchi, Dennis D.

    2010-10-01

    Groundwater can serve as an important resource for woody vegetation in semiarid landscapes, particularly when soil water is functionally depleted and unavailable to plants. This study examines the uptake of groundwater by deciduous blue oak trees (Quercus douglasii) in a California oak savanna. Here we present a suite of direct and indirect methods that demonstrate its occurrence and quantify its rates. The study site is underlain by a thin soil layer and fractured metavolcanic bedrock. Typical depth to groundwater is approximately 8 m. A variety of water storage and flux measurements were collected from 2005 to 2008, including groundwater levels, soil moisture contents, sap flows, and latent heat fluxes. During the dry season, groundwater uptake rates ranged from 4 to 25 mm month-1 and approximately 80% of total ET during June, July, and August came from groundwater. Leaf and soil water potentials supported these results, indicating that groundwater uptake was thermodynamically favorable over soil water uptake for key portions of the growing season. These findings strongly suggest that blue oaks should be considered obligate phreatophytes and that groundwater reserves provide a buffer to rapid changes in their hydroclimate, if these assets are not otherwise depleted by prolonged drought or human consumption. While groundwater uptake may provide for short-term protection, it should be viewed not as a mechanism for continued plant growth. It allows the woody vegetation to subsist during the summer but not to flourish.

  16. Assessment and kinetics of soil phosphatase in Brazilian Savanna systems.

    PubMed

    Ferreira, Adão S; Espíndola, Suéllen P; Campos, Maria Rita C

    2016-05-31

    The activity and kinetics of soil phosphatases are important indicators to evaluate soil quality in specific sites such as the Cerrado (Brazilian Savanna). This study aimed to determine the activity and kinetic parameters of soil phosphatase in Cerrado systems. Soil phosphatase activity was assessed in samples of native Cerrado (NC), no-tillage (NT), conventional tillage (CT) and pasture with Brachiaria brizantha (PBb) and evaluated with acetate buffer (AB), tris-HCl buffer (TB), modified universal buffer (MUB) and low MUB. The Michaelis-Menten equation and Eadie-Hofstee model were applied to obtain the kinetic parameters of soil phosphatase using different concentrations of p-nitrophenol phosphate (p-NPP). MUB showed the lowest soil phosphatase activity in all soils whereas AB in NC and NT presented the highest. Low MUB decreased interferences in the assessment of soil phosphatase activity when compared to MUB, suggesting that organic acids interfere on the soil phosphatase activity. In NC and NT, soil phosphatase activity performed with TB was similar to AB and low MUB. Km values from the Michaels-Menten equation were higher in NC than in NT, which indicate a lower affinity of phosphatase activity for the substrate in NC. Vmax values were also higher in NC than in NT. The Eadie-Hofstee model suggests that NC had more phosphatase isoforms than NT. The study showed that buffer type is of fundamental importance when assessing soil phosphatase activity in Cerrado soils.

  17. African-American Biography.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Martin, Ron

    1995-01-01

    Suggests sources of information for African American History Month for library media specialists who work with students in grades four through eight. Gale Research's "African-American Reference Library," which includes "African-America Biography,""African-American Chronology," and "African-American Almanac,"…

  18. Implications of the spatial dynamics of fire spread for the bistability of savanna and forest.

    PubMed

    Schertzer, E; Staver, A C; Levin, S A

    2015-01-01

    The role of fire in expanding the global distribution of savanna is well recognized. Empirical observations and modeling suggest that fire spread has a threshold response to fuel-layer continuity, which sets up a positive feedback that maintains savanna-forest bistability. However, modeling has so far failed to examine fire spread as a spatial process that interacts with vegetation. Here, we use simple, well-supported assumptions about fire spread as an infection process and its effects on trees to ask whether spatial dynamics qualitatively change the potential for savanna-forest bistability. We show that the spatial effects of fire spread are the fundamental reason that bistability is possible: because fire spread is an infection process, it exhibits a threshold response to fuel continuity followed by a rapid increase in fire size. Other ecological processes affecting fire spread may also contribute including temporal variability in demography or fire spread. Finally, including the potential for spatial aggregation increases the potential both for savanna-forest bistability and for savanna and forest to coexist in a landscape mosaic.

  19. Restoring the Savanna to the Savannah River Site.

    SciTech Connect

    Harrington, Timothy B.

    2006-07-01

    The Longleaf Pine Ecosystem - Ecology, Silviculture, and Restoration. Shibu Jose, Eric J. Jokela, and Deborah L. Miller, (eds.) Springer Series on Environmental Management. Springer Science and Business Media publisher. Chapter 5. Pp 135-156. Chapter 5 of the book.

  20. Modelling productivity in a mixed C3 and C4 Australian savanna using a soil-plant-atmosphere model

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Macinnis-Ng, Cate; Whitley, Rhys; Hutley, Lindsay; Beringer, Jason; Zeppel, Melanie; Williams, Mathew; Medlyn, Belinda; Eamus, Derek

    2010-05-01

    The Soil-Plant-Atmosphere (SPA) model of Williams et al. (1996) is a mechanistic model which simulates ecosystem carbon and water fluxes over multiple canopy and soil layers at fine temporal scale. To-date, this model has not included consideration of C4 vegetation that is typically present in tropical savannas. We added a C4 photosynthesis routine to the model to allow estimation of the gross primary productivity (GPP) of a mixed (C3 and C4) tropical savanna in northern Australia. Much of Australia's savanna consists of a seasonal C4 grass understorey with a C3 open tree canopy, including evergreen, semi-deciduous and deciduous species. The tall annual grasses make up approximately half of the leaf area index (LAI) in the wet season (November to March) when 90% of annual rain falls but they die back in every dry season (April to October). The seasonal cycle of leaf area and foliar N distributions were defined for each canopy layer and each layer was designated as C3 or C4 for application of the applicable photosynthesis model. The SPA model was then run over a 5 year period (2001-2005) and compared to measured eddy covariance data. There was good agreement between modelled and measured GPP values. The model explained between 80 - 87% of the variance and had a low root-mean-square error (RMSE) of between 0.0206 - 0.5742 g C m-2 d-1. The contribution of the grass to total annual GPP was approximately 66%, highlighting the importance of including the C4 grasses in the model. Approximately 60% of the total (trees and grasses) annual GPP occurred during the wet season. Landscape quantum yields were calculated as the response of GPP to PAR between 50 and 250 µmol m-2 s-1 and compared for wet and dry seasons, in both morning and afternoons. This was highest for the wet season mornings (0.0282 mol CO2 per mol photon) and lowest for dry season afternoons. A sensitivity analysis of GPP revealed that daily GPP was most sensitive to changes in understorey LAI and foliar N

  1. Maximum entropy models of ecosystem functioning

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bertram, Jason

    2014-12-01

    Using organism-level traits to deduce community-level relationships is a fundamental problem in theoretical ecology. This problem parallels the physical one of using particle properties to deduce macroscopic thermodynamic laws, which was successfully achieved with the development of statistical physics. Drawing on this parallel, theoretical ecologists from Lotka onwards have attempted to construct statistical mechanistic theories of ecosystem functioning. Jaynes' broader interpretation of statistical mechanics, which hinges on the entropy maximisation algorithm (MaxEnt), is of central importance here because the classical foundations of statistical physics do not have clear ecological analogues (e.g. phase space, dynamical invariants). However, models based on the information theoretic interpretation of MaxEnt are difficult to interpret ecologically. Here I give a broad discussion of statistical mechanical models of ecosystem functioning and the application of MaxEnt in these models. Emphasising the sample frequency interpretation of MaxEnt, I show that MaxEnt can be used to construct models of ecosystem functioning which are statistical mechanical in the traditional sense using a savanna plant ecology model as an example.

  2. Maximum entropy models of ecosystem functioning

    SciTech Connect

    Bertram, Jason

    2014-12-05

    Using organism-level traits to deduce community-level relationships is a fundamental problem in theoretical ecology. This problem parallels the physical one of using particle properties to deduce macroscopic thermodynamic laws, which was successfully achieved with the development of statistical physics. Drawing on this parallel, theoretical ecologists from Lotka onwards have attempted to construct statistical mechanistic theories of ecosystem functioning. Jaynes’ broader interpretation of statistical mechanics, which hinges on the entropy maximisation algorithm (MaxEnt), is of central importance here because the classical foundations of statistical physics do not have clear ecological analogues (e.g. phase space, dynamical invariants). However, models based on the information theoretic interpretation of MaxEnt are difficult to interpret ecologically. Here I give a broad discussion of statistical mechanical models of ecosystem functioning and the application of MaxEnt in these models. Emphasising the sample frequency interpretation of MaxEnt, I show that MaxEnt can be used to construct models of ecosystem functioning which are statistical mechanical in the traditional sense using a savanna plant ecology model as an example.

  3. Concentrations of trace and other elements in the organs of wild rats and birds from the Northern Guinea savanna of Nigeria

    SciTech Connect

    Kapu, M.M.; Schaeffer, D.J. ); Akanya, H.O. ); Ega, R.A.; Olofu, E.O.; Balarabe, M.L. ); Chafe, U.M. )

    1991-01-01

    In regions of human activities, where metal enter local aquatic ecosystems from the atmosphere and through wastewater outfalls, metal concentrations in food chains can exceed natural background levels and be above the threshold levels for sensitive species. Accordingly, metal levels in the organs and tissues of livestock and wildlife have been extensively studied. However, there are no reports of metal concentrations in the organs and tissues of wild animals from the Northern Guinea savanna of Nigeria. The mole rat (Africanthus niloticus, L) and village weaver bird (Ploceus cucullatus, L) contribute significantly to farm crop losses from sowing to harvest. Because there are no industries capable of causing metal contamination in the study area, the present study was undertaken to determine the natural baseline levels of metals for wild rats and birds from this environment.

  4. Density as an explanatory variable of movements and calf survival in savanna elephants across southern Africa.

    PubMed

    Young, K D; Van Aarde, R J

    2010-05-01

    1. Southern Africa's 'elephant problem' is often attributed to an overabundance of elephants (Loxodonta africana) in conservation areas. Paradoxically, the African elephant is listed as 'vulnerable' (IUCN Redlist) despite occupying a large geographical range and numbering about 600 000. How densities influence elephant populations is therefore important for conservation management decisions, particularly because a move towards non-equilibrium management of savannas implies a need for elephant populations to fluctuate in response to variation in intrinsic (demographic) and extrinsic (resource) factors. 2. A study on one of the world's largest elephant populations demonstrated that population regulation is driven by a spatial response to water availability, environmental stochasticity and density. The challenge remains to identify the demographic and behavioural variables that drive density dependence. 3. We evaluated whether the movements of elephant family groups from 13 populations across a wide resource gradient were explained by variability in primary productivity, rainfall and population density. We then assessed whether density-related movements explained variability in juvenile survival, hence inferring a spatially driven behavioural mechanism that may explain density-dependent population growth. We also analysed whether management actions modified this mechanism. 4. In the dry season, daily-displacement distances (DDDs) increased non-linearly with density, and declined with increased vegetation productivity and previous wet season rainfall. In the wet season, DDDs were primarily explained by vegetation productivity. 5. The survival of weaned calves (4-7 years) decreased with increasing dry season DDDs, but this did not hold for suckling calves (1-3 years) or sub-adults (8-11 years). 6. Fences and supplementary water modified the shape and strength of relationships between DDDs and densities, vegetation productivity and rainfall and negated the relationships

  5. African Trypanosomiasis

    DTIC Science & Technology

    2011-06-01

    infection by protozoan hemo- flagellates of the Trypanosoma brucei complex, 2 subspe- cies of which cause disease in humans: Trypanosoma bru- cei gambiense...public release; distribution unlimited 13. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES See also ADA545141. Chapter 3 from e-book, Topics on the Pathology of Protozoan and...the brief ferry crossing. 2 3 • Topics on The paThology of proTozoan and invasive arThropod diseases Three severe epidemics of African trypanosomiasis

  6. Health assessment for Savanna Army Depot, Savanna, Carroll County, Illinois, Region 5. CERCLIS No. IL0213820376. Preliminary report

    SciTech Connect

    Not Available

    1989-01-19

    The Savanna Army Depot Activity (SADA) is on the National Priorities List. The 13,000-acre facility is an Army munitions plant engaged in munitions renovation and loading, and demolition and burning. About 20 areas within the facility have been identified as potential sources of hazardous waste. The environmental contamination on-site (maximum concentrations reported) consists of chloroform (20 ppb), trinitrotoluene or TNT (29 percent), trinitrobenzene or TNB (2,770 ppb), 2,6-dinitrotoluene or 2,6-DNT (1,400 ppb), 2-amino-4,6-dinitrotoluene (300,000 ppb), and 2,4-dinitrotoluene (94,200 ppb) in sediment; TNB (1,400 ppb), TNT (314 ppb), 2,4-DNT (113 ppb), trichloroethylene or TCE (20 ppb), chloroform (20 ppb), and nickel (185 ppb) in ground water; TNT (50 percent), 2,4-DNT (673 ppb), and cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine or RDX (12,300 ppb), and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs (greater than 59,000,000 ppb) in soil; and RDX (36,900 ppb) and TNT (16,600 ppb) in surface water. The site is considered to be of potential public health concern because of the risk to human health caused by the possibility of exposure to hazardous substances via ground water, surface water, soil, sediment, and air.

  7. Dynamics of Vegetatin Indices in Tropical and Subtropical Savannas Defined by Ecoregions and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectoradiometer (MODIS) Land Cover

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Hill, Michael J.; Roman, Miguel O.; Schaaf, Crytal B.

    2011-01-01

    In this study, we explored the capacity of vegetation indices derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) reflectance products to characterize global savannas in Australia, Africa and South America. The savannas were spatially defined and subdivided using the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) global ecoregions and MODIS land cover classes. Average annual profiles of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, shortwave infrared ratio (SWIR32), White Sky Albedo (WSA) and the Structural Scattering Index (SSI) were created. Metrics derived from average annual profiles of vegetation indices were used to classify savanna ecoregions. The response spaces between vegetation indices were used to examine the potential to derive structural and fractional cover measures. The ecoregions showed distinct temporal profiles and formed groups with similar structural properties, including higher levels of woody vegetation, similar forest savanna mixtures and similar grassland predominance. The potential benefits from the use of combinations of indices to characterize savannas are discussed.

  8. The global extent and determinants of savanna and forest as alternative biome states.

    PubMed

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

    2011-10-14

    Theoretically, fire-tree cover feedbacks can maintain savanna and forest as alternative stable states. However, the global extent of fire-driven discontinuities in tree cover is unknown, especially accounting for seasonality and soils. We use tree cover, climate, fire, and soils data sets to show that tree cover is globally discontinuous. Climate influences tree cover globally but, at intermediate rainfall (1000 to 2500 millimeters) with mild seasonality (less than 7 months), tree cover is bimodal, and only fire differentiates between savanna and forest. These may be alternative states over large areas, including parts of Amazonia and the Congo. Changes in biome distributions, whether at the cost of savanna (due to fragmentation) or forest (due to climate), will be neither smooth nor easily reversible.

  9. Carbon Accumulation and Nitrogen Pool Recovery during Transitions from Savanna to Forest in Central Brazil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pellegrini, A.; Hoffmann, W. A.; Franco, A. C.

    2014-12-01

    The expansion of tropical forest into savanna may potentially be a large carbon sink, but little is known about the patterns of carbon sequestration during transitional forest formation. Moreover, it is unclear how nutrient limitation, due to extended exposure to firedriven nutrient losses, may constrain carbon accumulation. Here, we sampled plots that spanned a woody biomass gradient from savanna to transitional forest in response to differential fire protection in central Brazil. These plots were used to investigate how the process of transitional forest formation affects the size and distribution of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pools. This was paired with a detailed analysis of the nitrogen cycle to explore possible connections between carbon accumulation and nitrogen limitation. An analysis of carbon pools in the vegetation, upper soil, and litter shows that the transition from savanna to transitional forest can result in a fourfold increase in total carbon (from 43 to 179 Mg C/ha) with a doubling of carbon stocks in the litter and soil layers. Total nitrogen in the litter and soil layers increased with forest development in both the bulk (+68%) and plant-available (+150%) pools, with the most pronounced changes occurring in the upper layers. However, the analyses of nitrate concentrations, nitrate : ammonium ratios, plant stoichiometry of carbon and nitrogen, and soil and foliar nitrogen isotope ratios suggest that a conservative nitrogen cycle persists throughout forest development, indicating that nitrogen remains in low supply relative to demand. Furthermore, the lack of variation in underlying soil type (>20 cm depth) suggests that the biogeochemical trends across the gradient are driven by vegetation. Our results provide evidence for high carbon sequestration potential with forest encroachment on savanna, but nitrogen limitation may play a large and persistent role in governing carbon sequestration in savannas or other equally fire-disturbed tropical

  10. Carbon accumulation and nitrogen pool recovery during transitions from savanna to forest in central Brazil.

    PubMed

    Pellegrini, Adam F A; Hoffmann, William A; Franco, Augusto C

    2014-02-01

    The expansion of tropical forest into savanna may potentially be a large carbon sink, but little is known about the patterns of carbon sequestration during transitional forest formation. Moreover, it is unclear how nutrient limitation, due to extended exposure to fire-driven nutrient losses, may constrain carbon accumulation. Here, we sampled plots that spanned a woody biomass gradient from savanna to transitional forest in response to differential fire protection in central Brazil. These plots were used to investigate how the process of transitional forest formation affects the size and distribution of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pools. This was paired with a detailed analysis of the nitrogen cycle to explore possible connections between carbon accumulation and nitrogen limitation. An analysis of carbon pools in the vegetation, upper soil, and litter shows that the transition from savanna to transitional forest can result in a fourfold increase in total carbon (from 43 to 179 Mg C/ha) with a doubling of carbon stocks in the litter and soil layers. Total nitrogen in the litter and soil layers increased with forest development in both the bulk (+68%) and plant-available (+150%) pools, with the most pronounced changes occurring in the upper layers. However, the analyses of nitrate concentrations, nitrate:ammonium ratios, plant stoichiometry of carbon and nitrogen, and soil and foliar nitrogen isotope ratios suggest that a conservative nitrogen cycle persists throughout forest development, indicating that nitrogen remains in low supply relative to demand. Furthermore, the lack of variation in underlying soil type (>20 cm depth) suggests that the biogeochemical trends across the gradient are driven by vegetation. Our results provide evidence for high carbon sequestration potential with forest encroachment on savanna, but nitrogen limitation may play a large and persistent role in governing carbon sequestration in savannas or other equally fire-disturbed tropical

  11. Competition between trees and grasses for both soil water and mineral nitrogen in dry savannas.

    PubMed

    Donzelli, D; De Michele, C; Scholes, R J

    2013-09-07

    The co-existence of trees and grasses in savannas in general can be the result of processes involving competition for resources (e.g. water and nutrients) or differential response to disturbances such as fire, animals and human activities; or a combination of both broad mechanisms. In moist savannas, the tree-grass coexistence is mainly attributed to of disturbances, while in dry savannas, limiting resources are considered the principal mechanism of co-existence. Virtually all theoretical explorations of tree-grass dynamics in dry savannas consider only competition for soil water. Here we investigate whether coexistence could result from a balanced competition for two resources, namely soil water and mineral nitrogen. We introduce a simple dynamical resource-competition model for trees and grasses. We consider two alternative hypotheses: (1) trees are the superior competitors for nitrogen while grasses are superior competitors for water, and (2) vice-versa. We study the model properties under the two hypotheses and test each hypothesis against data from 132 dry savannas in Africa using Kendall's test of independence. We find that Hypothesis 1 gets much more support than Hypothesis 2, and more support than the null hypothesis that neither is operative. We further consider gradients of rainfall and nitrogen availability and find that the Hypothesis 1 model reproduces the observed patterns in nature. We do not consider our results to definitively show that tree-grass coexistence in dry savannas is due to balanced competition for water and nitrogen, but show that this mechanism is a possibility, which cannot be a priori excluded and should thus be considered along with the more traditional explanations.

  12. Emission estimates of selected volatile organic compounds from tropical savanna burning in northern Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shirai, T.; Blake, D. R.; Meinardi, S.; Rowland, F. S.; Russell-Smith, J.; Edwards, A.; Kondo, Y.; Koike, M.; Kita, K.; Machida, T.; Takegawa, N.; Nishi, N.; Kawakami, S.; Ogawa, T.

    2003-02-01

    Here we present measurements of a range of carbon-based compounds: carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHCs), methyl halides, and dimethyl sulfide (DMS) emitted by Australian savanna fires studied as part of the Biomass Burning and Lightning Experiment (BIBLE) phase B aircraft campaign, which took place during the local late dry season (28 August to 13 September 1999). Significant enhancements of short-lived NMHCs were observed in the boundary layer (BL) over the region of intensive fires and indicate recent emissions for which the mean transport time was estimated to be about 9 hours. Emission ratios relative to CO were determined for 20 NMHCs, 3 methyl halides, DMS, and CH4 based on the BL enhancements in the source region. Tight correlations with CO were obtained for most of those compounds, indicating the homogeneity of the local savanna source. The emission ratios were in good agreement with some previous measurements of savanna fires for stable compounds but indicated the decay of emission ratios during transport for several reactive compounds. Based on the observed emission ratios, emission factors were derived and compared to previous studies. While emission factors (g species/kg dry mole) of CO2 varied little according to the vegetation types, those of CO and NMHCs varied significantly. Higher combustion efficiency and a lower emission factor for methane in this study, compared to forest fires, agreed well with results for savanna fires in other tropical regions. The amount of biomass burned was estimated by modeling methods using available satellite data, and showed that 1999 was an above average year for savanna burning. The gross emissions of the trace gases from Australian savanna fires were estimated.

  13. Contrasting photosynthetic characteristics of forest vs. savanna species (Far North Queensland, Australia)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bloomfield, K. J.; Domingues, T. F.; Saiz, G.; Bird, M. I.; Crayn, D. M.; Ford, A.; Metcalfe, D. J.; Farquhar, G. D.; Lloyd, J.

    2014-12-01

    Forest and savanna are the two dominant vegetation types of the tropical regions with very few tree species common to both. At a broad scale, it has long been recognised that the distributions of these two biomes are principally governed by precipitation and its seasonality, but with soil physical and chemical properties also potentially important. For tree species drawn from a range of forest and savanna sites in tropical Far North Queensland, Australia, we compared leaf traits of photosynthetic capacity, structure and nutrient concentrations. Area-based photosynthetic capacity was higher for the savanna species with a steeper slope to the photosynthesis ↔ nitrogen (N) relationship compared with the forest group. Higher leaf mass per unit leaf area for the savanna trees derived from denser rather than thicker leaves and did not appear to restrict rates of light-saturated photosynthesis when expressed on either an area or mass basis. Median ratios of foliar N to phosphorus (P) were relatively high (>20) at all sites, but we found no evidence for a dominant P limitation of photosynthesis for either forest or savanna trees. A parsimonious mixed-effects model of area-based photosynthetic capacity retained vegetation type and both N and P as explanatory terms. Resulting model-fitted predictions suggested a good fit to the observed data (R2 = 0.82). The model's random component found variation in area-based photosynthetic response to be much greater among species (71% of response variance) than across sites (9%). These results suggest that, on a leaf-area basis, savanna trees of Far North Queensland, Australia, are capable of photosynthetically outperforming forest species at their common boundaries.

  14. Rapid Leaf Deployment Strategies in a Deciduous Savanna

    PubMed Central

    2016-01-01

    Deciduous plants avoid the costs of maintaining leaves in the unfavourable season, but carry the costs of constructing new leaves every year. Deciduousness is therefore expected in ecological situations with pronounced seasonality and low costs of leaf construction. In our study system, a seasonally dry tropical savanna, many trees are deciduous, suggesting that leaf construction costs must be low. Previous studies have, however, shown that nitrogen is limiting in this system, suggesting that leaf construction costs are high. Here we examine this conundrum using a time series of soil moisture availability, leaf phenology and nitrogen distribution in the tree canopy to illustrate how trees resorb nitrogen before leaf abscission and use stored reserves of nitrogen and carbon to construct new leaves at the onset of the growing season. Our results show that trees deployed leaves shortly before and in anticipation of the first rains with its associated pulse of nitrogen mineralisation. Our results also show that trees rapidly constructed a full canopy of leaves within two weeks of the first rains. We detected an increase in leaf nitrogen content that corresponded with the first rains and with the movement of nitrogen to more distal branches, suggesting that stored nitrogen reserves are used to construct leaves. Furthermore the stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) of these leaves suggest the use of stored carbon for leaf construction. Our findings suggest that the early deployment of leaves using stored nitrogen and carbon reserves is a strategy that is integrally linked with the onset of the first rains. This strategy may confer a competitive advantage over species that deploy leaves at or after the onset of the rains. PMID:27310398

  15. A SNP test to identify Africanized honeybees via proportion of 'African' ancestry.

    PubMed

    Chapman, Nadine C; Harpur, Brock A; Lim, Julianne; Rinderer, Thomas E; Allsopp, Michael H; Zayed, Amro; Oldroyd, Benjamin P

    2015-11-01

    The honeybee, Apis mellifera, is the world's most important pollinator and is ubiquitous in most agricultural ecosystems. Four major evolutionary lineages and at least 24 subspecies are recognized. Commercial populations are mainly derived from subspecies originating in Europe (75-95%). The Africanized honeybee is a New World hybrid of A. m. scutellata from Africa and European subspecies, with the African component making up 50-90% of the genome. Africanized honeybees are considered undesirable for bee-keeping in most countries, due to their extreme defensiveness and poor honey production. The international trade in honeybees is restricted, due in part to bans on the importation of queens (and semen) from countries where Africanized honeybees are extant. Some desirable strains from the United States of America that have been bred for traits such as resistance to the mite Varroa destructor are unfortunately excluded from export to countries such as Australia due to the presence of Africanized honeybees in the USA. This study shows that a panel of 95 single nucleotide polymorphisms, chosen to differentiate between the African, Eastern European and Western European lineages, can detect Africanized honeybees with a high degree of confidence via ancestry assignment. Our panel therefore offers a valuable tool to mitigate the risks of spreading Africanized honeybees across the globe and may enable the resumption of queen and bee semen imports from the Americas.

  16. Triangulating the provenance of African elephants using mitochondrial DNA

    PubMed Central

    Ishida, Yasuko; Georgiadis, Nicholas J; Hondo, Tomoko; Roca, Alfred L

    2013-01-01

    African elephant mitochondrial (mt) DNA follows a distinctive evolutionary trajectory. As females do not migrate between elephant herds, mtDNA exhibits low geographic dispersal. We therefore examined the effectiveness of mtDNA for assigning the provenance of African elephants (or their ivory). For 653 savanna and forest elephants from 22 localities in 13 countries, 4258 bp of mtDNA was sequenced. We detected eight mtDNA subclades, of which seven had regionally restricted distributions. Among 108 unique haplotypes identified, 72% were found at only one locality and 84% were country specific, while 44% of individuals carried a haplotype detected only at their sampling locality. We combined 316 bp of our control region sequences with those generated by previous trans-national surveys of African elephants. Among 101 unique control region haplotypes detected in African elephants across 81 locations in 22 countries, 62% were present in only a single country. Applying our mtDNA results to a previous microsatellite-based assignment study would improve estimates of the provenance of elephants in 115 of 122 mis-assigned cases. Nuclear partitioning followed species boundaries and not mtDNA subclade boundaries. For taxa such as elephants in which nuclear and mtDNA markers differ in phylogeography, combining the two markers can triangulate the origins of confiscated wildlife products. PMID:23798975

  17. The Australian SuperSite Network: A continental, long-term terrestrial ecosystem observatory.

    PubMed

    Karan, Mirko; Liddell, Michael; Prober, Suzanne M; Arndt, Stefan; Beringer, Jason; Boer, Matthias; Cleverly, James; Eamus, Derek; Grace, Peter; Van Gorsel, Eva; Hero, Jean-Marc; Hutley, Lindsay; Macfarlane, Craig; Metcalfe, Dan; Meyer, Wayne; Pendall, Elise; Sebastian, Alvin; Wardlaw, Tim

    2016-10-15

    Ecosystem monitoring networks aim to collect data on physical, chemical and biological systems and their interactions that shape the biosphere. Here we introduce the Australian SuperSite Network that, along with complementary facilities of Australia's Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), delivers field infrastructure and diverse, ecosystem-related datasets for use by researchers, educators and policy makers. The SuperSite Network uses infrastructure replicated across research sites in different biomes, to allow comparisons across ecosystems and improve scalability of findings to regional, continental and global scales. This conforms with the approaches of other ecosystem monitoring networks such as Critical Zone Observatories, the U.S. National Ecological Observatory Network; Analysis and Experimentation on Ecosystems, Europe; Chinese Ecosystem Research Network; International Long Term Ecological Research network and the United States Long Term Ecological Research Network. The Australian SuperSite Network currently involves 10 SuperSites across a diverse range of biomes, including tropical rainforest, grassland and savanna; wet and dry sclerophyll forest and woodland; and semi-arid grassland, woodland and savanna. The focus of the SuperSite Network is on using vegetation, faunal and biophysical monitoring to develop a process-based understanding of ecosystem function and change in Australian biomes; and to link this with data streams provided by the series of flux towers across the network. The Australian SuperSite Network is also intended to support a range of auxiliary researchers who contribute to the growing body of knowledge within and across the SuperSite Network, public outreach and education to promote environmental awareness and the role of ecosystem monitoring in the management of Australian environments.

  18. Effects of groundwater abstraction on two keystone tree species in an arid savanna national park

    PubMed Central

    2017-01-01

    Background In arid systems with no surface water, deep boreholes in ephemeral river beds provide for humans and animals. With continually increasing infrastructure development for tourism in arid wildlife parks such as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in southern Africa, we ask what effects increased abstraction may have on large trees. Large trees in arid savannas perform essential ecosystem services by providing food, shade, nesting sites and increased nutrients for many other plant and animal species and for this are regarded as keystone species. Methods We determine seasonal fluctuations in the water table while also determining the water source for the dominant large tree species in the Auob and Nossob rivers in the Park. We also determine the extent to which these trees are physiologically stressed using leaf δ13C, xylem pressure potentials, specific leaf area and an estimate of canopy death. We do this both upstream and downstream of a low water use borehole in the Auob River and a high water use borehole in the Nossob River. Results Our results show that the trees are indeed using deep groundwater in the wet season and that this is the same water used by people. In the dry season, trees in the Auob downstream of the active borehole become detached from the aquifer and use more isotopically enriched soil water. In the Nossob in the dry season, all trees use isotopically enriched soil water, and downstream of the active borehole use stomatal regulation to maintain leaf water potentials. These results suggest that trees in the more heavily utilised Nossob are under more water stress than those trees in the Auob but that trees in both rivers demonstrate physiological adaptation to the changes in available water with smaller heavier leaves, no significant canopy dieback and in the dry season in the Nossob stomatal regulation of leaf water potentials. Discussion An increase in abstraction of groundwater particularly at the Nossob borehole may cause an additional

  19. Large net CO2 loss from a grass-dominated tropical savanna in south-central Brazil in response to seasonal and interannual drought

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Vourlitis, G. L.; Arruda, P. H. Z. D.; Santanna, F. B.; Pinto-Jr, O. B.; Lobo, F. D. A.; Nogueira, J. D. S.

    2015-12-01

    The savanna vegetation of Brazil (Cerrado), accounts for 20-25% of the total land cover of Brazil; however, little is still known about the spatial and temporal variations in mass and energy exchange of Cerrado. Our goal was to evaluate the seasonal and interannual variations in CO2 exchange for a grass-dominated Cerrado stand over a three-year period and to elucidate the biophysical controls on CO2 exchange. We hypothesized that soil water availability (SWA) would be a key control over the direction and magnitude of CO2 exchange. Field measurements were conducted Mar 2011- Dec 2013 at the Fazenda Miranda, located 15 km SSE of Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Net CO2 (NEE), latent, and sensible heat fluxes were quantified using eddy covariance. NEE was strongly affected by SWA; however, other biophysical variables were also important in controlling temporal patterns of CO2 exchange. Step-wise regression revealed four variables that explained 69% of the seasonal and interannual variation in gross primary production (GPP), and GPP increased as a function of the MODIS enhanced vegetation index (EVI), solar radiation (Rs), and soil water content (θs) but declined as a function of the vapor pressure deficit (VPD). Similarly, stepwise regression identified six variables that explained 78% of the variance in ecosystem respiration (Reco), and Reco was positively related to air temperature, the EVI, Rs, and θs and negatively correlated with VPD and precipitation. Consistent net CO2 losses during the dry season caused a cumulative net CO2 loss of 840 gC/m2 over the 3 year study period. Periods of accumulated net loss occurred when the difference between precipitation and evapotranspiration declined, which typically occurred between March and November of each year. The annual net CO2 losses are in contrast to rates of NEE reported for other cerrado ecosystems, and the differences between our results and those reported for other cerrado ecosystems may reflect the low average

  20. Understanding ecohydrological connectivity in savannas: A system dynamics modeling approach

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Ecohydrological connectivity is a system-level property that results from the linkages in the networks of water transport through ecosystems, by which feedback effects and other emergent system behaviors may be generated. We created a systems dynamic model that represents primary ecohydrological net...

  1. Using a Regional Cluster of AmeriFlux Sites in Central California to Advance Our Knowledge on Decadal-Scale Ecosystem-Atmosphere Carbon Dioxide Exchange

    SciTech Connect

    Baldocchi, Dennis

    2015-03-24

    Continuous eddy convariance measurements of carbon dioxide, water vapor and heat were measured continuously between an oak savanna and an annual grassland in California over a 4 year period. These systems serve as representative sites for biomes in Mediterranean climates and experience much seasonal and inter-annual variability in temperature and precipitation. These sites hence serve as natural laboratories for how whole ecosystem will respond to warmer and drier conditions. The savanna proved to be a moderate sink of carbon, taking up about 150 gC m-2y-1 compared to the annual grassland, which tended to be carbon neutral and often a source during drier years. But this carbon sink by the savanna came at a cost. This ecosystem used about 100 mm more water per year than the grassland. And because the savanna was darker and rougher its air temperature was about 0.5 C warmer. In addition to our flux measurements, we collected vast amounts of ancillary data to interpret the site and fluxes, making this site a key site for model validation and parameterization. Datasets consist of terrestrial and airborne lidar for determining canopy structure, ground penetrating radar data on root distribution, phenology cameras monitoring leaf area index and its seasonality, predawn water potential, soil moisture, stem diameter and physiological capacity of photosynthesis.

  2. African Outreach Workshop 1974.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Schmidt, Nancy J.

    This report discusses the 1974 African Outreach Workshop planned and coordinated by the African Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Its major aim was to assist teachers in developing curriculum units on African using materials available in their local community. A second aim was for the African Studies Program to…

  3. Africans in America.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hart, Ayanna; Spangler, Earl

    This book introduces African-American history and culture to children. The first Africans in America came from many different regions and cultures, but became united in this country by being black, African, and slaves. Once in America, Africans began a long struggle for freedom which still continues. Slavery, the Civil War, emancipation, and the…

  4. Simulating Groundwater-Plant-Atmosphere Interactions in a Semiarid Savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gou, S.; Miller, G. R.

    2013-12-01

    Groundwater serves as one of the main water sources for deep rooted phreatophytic vegetation. Such vegetation acts as the linkage between groundwater, land surface and atmosphere. Through plant groundwater uptake and hydraulic redistribution (HR), the dynamics of relatively deep groundwater can influence ET and soil moisture of top soil layers. In this work, we first developed a plant scale model to simulate groundwater uptake and HR driven by the potential gradients along the groundwater-soil-plant-atmosphere continuum (GSPAC). The model included a new plant water stress function based on the 'vulnerability curve' theory in order to integrate the influences of both soil water and groundwater on transpiration. The model was calibrated and validated with measured ET, soil moisture, and leaf water potential data and was able to capture both energy and water dynamics along the GSPAC. We then coupled this plant scale model into a spatial distributed groundwater-land surface model (ParFlow.CLM). The revisions to ParFlow.CLM allow it to explicitly describe root water uptake and HR of different species, allowing for the study of how plant groundwater use and HR influence regional water budget and climate. This new uptake formulation was applied to simulate a heterogeneous savanna system at an AmeriFlux site in California. The site is dominated by blue oaks which can access both soil water and groundwater and grasses which only depend on soil water. The results match previous field measurements indicating that the oaks use most soil water during wet season and switch to groundwater use in dry season to buffer the impacts of drought. Therefore, the water and energy dynamics at this site showed the soil moisture controlled pattern in wet season, and the vegetation and groundwater controlled pattern in dry season. With HR, the rainfall is distributed into deeper soil in wet season by hydraulic descent. Such water will be lifted into shallower soil to promote transpiration in

  5. Grassland, shrubland and savanna stewardship: where do we go from here?

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    Scientific efforts to understand grasslands, shrublands and savannas and thereby develop sustainable management practices are roughly 100 years old. What have we learned in that time? Several assumptions made by scientists and policymakers early in the 20th century have proved mistaken, resulting in...

  6. Sustainable Land Management and Adult Education: Issues for the Stakeholders of Australia's Tropical Savannas.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Benson, Rebecca

    1998-01-01

    Sustainable land management is an important consideration for stakeholders in Australia's tropical savannas. Land-management-education providers must deal with issues of access and the impact of values and perceptions on behavior. Adult educators must take on the role of negotiating attitudes and beliefs among stakeholders. (SK)

  7. RELATIONSHIP OF MICROBIAL COMMUNITY STRUCTURE AND CARBON DYNAMICS IN SOILS FROM BRAZILIAN SAVANNAS

    EPA Science Inventory

    Fertilization is a widespread management practice in savanna areas of central Brazil (Cerrado) that are undergoing rapid agricultural land use changes. We conducted field and laboratory studies in soils with added fertilizers to determine the effect that fertilization of native a...

  8. SEASONAL SOIL FLUXES OF CARBON MONOXIDE IN BURNED AND UNBURNED BRAZILIAN SAVANNAS

    EPA Science Inventory

    Soil-atmosphere fluxes of carbon monoxide (CO) were measured from September 1999 through November 2000 in savanna areas in central Brazil (Cerrado) under different fire regimes using transparent and opaque static chambers. Studies focused on two vegetation types, cerrado stricto...

  9. STRUCTURE OF MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES IN NATIVE AND CONVERTED SAVANNA AREAS OF CENTRAL BRAZIL

    EPA Science Inventory

    Brazilian savannas (Cerrado) have suffered drastic changes in land use with major conversion of native areas to agriculture since 1960. Burning, both due to natural conditions and as a human-induced practice, is a common event during the dry season (April to September) and plays ...

  10. Biome Context and Lotic Ecosystem Rates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dodds, W. K.; Rüegg, J.; Sheehan, K.; Song, C.; Ballantyne, F.; Baker, C.; Bowden, W. B.; Farrell, K.; Flinn, M. B.; Garcia, E.; Harms, T.; Jones, J.; Koenig, L.; Kominoski, J. S.; McDowell, W. H.; McMaster, D.; Parker, S.; Trentman, M. T.; Whiles, M.; Wollheim, W. M.; Argerich, A.; Penaluna, B.

    2015-12-01

    The stream biome gradient concept suggests that the biome in which a stream is embedded influences stream community structure and key ecosystem functions including primary production, community respiration, and nutrient uptake. We measured these key processes with whole-stream reach methods and smaller-scale incubations in numerous locations within stream networks across two years as part of a project on scaling ecosystem rates. Measurements were repeated across 7 biomes (tropical forest, tropical savanna, temperate deciduous forest, temperate rain forest, tallgrass prairie, boreal forest, and tundra). We found strong effects of light on primary production within and among biomes as a function of variable canopy among reaches and biomes. Community respiration and ammonium uptake were decoupled from light relative to gross primary production. Ammonium uptake rarely exhibited saturation with elevated concentrations, regardless of background concentrations or biome. We hypothesize that even though biomes exhibit major differences in gross primary production, the overall variation in community respiration and ammonium uptake is similar across biomes because respiration and uptake depend on carbon irrespective if it is derived from allochthonous or autochthonous inputs. Respiration and uptake are expected to vary depending upon factors not as tightly connected to the biome a stream is embedded in.

  11. Behavior of multitemporal and multisensor passive microwave indices in Southern Hemisphere ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barraza, Veronica; Grings, Francisco; Ferrazzoli, Paolo; Huete, Alfredo; Restrepo-Coupe, Natalia; Beringer, Jason; Van Gorsel, Eva; Karszenbaum, Haydee

    2014-12-01

    This study focused on the time series analysis of passive microwave and optical satellite data collected from six Southern Hemisphere ecosystems in Australia and Argentina. The selected ecosystems represent a wide range of land cover types, including deciduous open forest, temperate forest, tropical and semiarid savannas, and grasslands. We used two microwave indices, the frequency index (FI) and polarization index (PI), to assess the relative contributions of soil and vegetation properties (moisture and structure) to the observations. Optical-based satellite vegetation products from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer were also included to aid in the analysis. We studied the X and Ka bands of the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer-EOS and Wind Satellite, resulting in up to four observations per day (1:30, 6:00, 13:30, and 18:00 h). Both the seasonal and hourly variations of each of the indices were examined. Environmental drivers (precipitation and temperature) and eddy covariance measurements (gross ecosystem productivity and latent energy) were also analyzed. It was found that in moderately dense forests, FI was dependent on canopy properties (leaf area index and vegetation moisture). In tropical woody savannas, a significant regression (R2) was found between FI and PI with precipitation (R2 > 0.5) and soil moisture (R2 > 0.6). In the areas of semiarid savanna and grassland ecosystems, FI variations found to be significantly related to soil moisture (R2 > 0.7) and evapotranspiration (R2 > 0.5), while PI varied with vegetation phenology. Significant differences (p < 0.01) were found among FI values calculated at the four local times.

  12. Are the eucalypt and non-eucalypt components of Australian tropical savannas independent?

    PubMed

    Lawes, M J; Murphy, B P; Midgley, J J; Russell-Smith, J

    2011-05-01

    Eucalypts (Eucalyptus and Corymbia spp.) dominate (>60%) the tree biomass of Australia's tropical savannas but account for only a fraction (28%) of the tree diversity. Because of their considerable biomass and adaptation to environmental stressors, such as fire, the eucalypts may drive tree dynamics in these savannas, possibly to the exclusion of non-eucalypts. We evaluated whether the eucalypt and non-eucalypt components in tropical savannas are dependent so that changes in one component are matched by opposite trends in the other. Using tree inventory data from 127 savanna sites across the rainfall and fire frequency gradients, we found that eucalypt and non-eucalypt basal area and species richness had a negative relationship. This relationship was maintained across the rainfall gradient, with rainfall having a positive effect on the basal area and species richness of both components, but with a greater effect in non-eucalypts. Fire frequency negatively affected basal area, but not species richness, although basal area and species richness of eucalypts and non-eucalypts did not differ in their response to fire. Rainfall appears to set the upper bounds to woody biomass in these mesic savannas, while fire maintains woody biomass below carrying capacity and facilitates coexistence of the components. The magnitude of the component responses, particularly for non-eucalypts, is determined by rainfall, but their dependence is likely due to their differential response to both rainfall and fire, but not to competition for resources. Thus, while eucalypts dominate biomass overall, at high rainfall sites non-eucalypt basal area and diversity are highest, especially where fire frequency is low.

  13. Contrasting photosynthetic characteristics of forest vs. savanna species (far North Queensland, Australia)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bloomfield, K. J.; Domingues, T. F.; Saiz, G.; Bird, M. I.; Crayn, D. M.; Ford, A.; Metcalfe, D. J.; Farquhar, G. D.; Lloyd, J.

    2014-06-01

    Forest and savanna are the two dominant vegetation types of the tropical regions with very few tree species common to both. Aside from precipitation patterns, boundaries between these two vegetation types are strongly determined by soil characteristics and nutrient availability. For tree species drawn from a range of forest and savanna sites in tropical far north Queensland, Australia, we compared leaf traits of photosynthetic capacity, structure and nutrient concentrations. Area-based photosynthetic capacity was higher for the savanna species with a steeper slope to the photosynthesis ↔ Nitrogen relationship compared with the forest group. Higher leaf mass per unit leaf area for the savanna trees derived from denser rather than thicker leaves and did not appear to restrict rates of light-saturated photosynthesis when expressed on either an area- or mass-basis. Median ratios of foliar N to phosphorus were above 20 at all sites, but we found no evidence for a dominant P-limitation of photosynthesis for the forest group. A parsimonious mixed-effects model of area-based photosynthetic capacity retained vegetation type and both N and P as explanatory terms. Resulting model-fitted predictions suggested a good fit to the observed data (R2 = 0.82). The model's random component found variation in area-based photosynthetic response to be much greater among species (71% of response variance) than across sites (9%). These results suggest that in leaf area-based photosynthetic terms, savanna trees of far north Queensland, Australia are capable of out-performing forest species at their common boundaries1. 1 Adopted symbols and abbreviations are defined in Table 5.

  14. Nocturnal and seasonal patterns of carbon isotope composition of leaf dark-respired carbon dioxide differ among dominant species in a semiarid savanna.

    PubMed

    Sun, Wei; Resco, Víctor; Williams, David G

    2010-10-01

    The C isotope composition of leaf dark-respired CO(2) (δ(13)C(l)) integrates short-term metabolic responses to environmental change and is potentially recorded in the isotopic signature of ecosystem-level respiration. Species differences in photosynthetic pathway, resource acquisition and allocation patterns, and associated isotopic fractionations at metabolic branch points can influence δ(13)C(l), and differences are likely to be modified by seasonal variation in drought intensity. We measured δ(13)C(l) in two deep-rooted C(3) trees (Prosopis velutina and Celtis reticulata), and two relatively shallow-rooted perennial herbs (a C(3) dicot Viguiera dentata and a C(4) grass Sporobolus wrightii) in a floodplain savanna ecosystem in southeastern Arizona, USA during the dry pre-monsoon and wet monsoon seasons. δ(13)C(l) decreased during the nighttime and reached minimum values at pre-dawn in all species. The magnitude of nocturnal shift in δ(13)C(l) differed among species and between pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons. During the pre-monsoon season, the magnitude of the nocturnal shift in δ(13)C(l) in the deep-rooted C(3) trees P. velutina (2.8 ± 0.4‰) and C. reticulata (2.9 ± 0.2‰) was greater than in the C(3) herb V. dentata (1.8 ± 0.4‰) and C(4) grass S. wrightii (2.2 ± 0.4‰). The nocturnal shift in δ(13)C(l) in V. dentata and S. wrightii increased to 3.2 ± 0.1‰ and 4.6 ± 0.6‰, respectively, during the monsoon season, but in C(3) trees did not change significantly from pre-monsoon values. Cumulative daytime net CO(2) uptake was positively correlated with the magnitude of the nocturnal decline in δ(13)C(l) across all species, suggesting that nocturnal δ(13)C(l) may be controlled by (13)C/(12)C fractionations associated with C substrate availability and C metabolite partitioning. Nocturnal patterns of δ(13)C(l) in dominant plant species in the semiarid savanna apparently have predictable responses to seasonal changes in water

  15. Allocation to leaf area and sapwood area affects water relations of co-occurring savanna and forest trees.

    PubMed

    Gotsch, Sybil G; Geiger, Erika L; Franco, Augusto C; Goldstein, Guillermo; Meinzer, Frederick C; Hoffmann, William A

    2010-06-01

    Water availability is a principal factor limiting the distribution of closed-canopy forest in the seasonal tropics, suggesting that forest tree species may not be well adapted to cope with seasonal drought. We studied 11 congeneric species pairs, each containing one forest and one savanna species, to test the hypothesis that forest trees have a lower capacity to maintain seasonal homeostasis in water relations relative to savanna species. To quantify this, we measured sap flow, leaf water potential (Psi(L)), stomatal conductance (g (s)), wood density, and Huber value (sapwood area:leaf area) of the 22 study species. We found significant differences in the water relations of these two species types. Leaf area specific hydraulic conductance of the soil/root/leaf pathway (G (t)) was greater for savanna species than forest species. The lower G (t) of forest trees resulted in significantly lower Psi(L) and g (s) in the late dry season relative to savanna trees. The differences in G (t) can be explained by differences in biomass allocation of savanna and forest trees. Savanna species had higher Huber values relative to forest species, conferring greater transport capacity on a leaf area basis. Forest trees have a lower capacity to maintain homeostasis in Psi(L) due to greater allocation to leaf area relative to savanna species. Despite significant differences in water relations, relationships between traits such as wood density and minimum Psi(L) were indistinguishable for the two species groups, indicating that forest and savanna share a common axis of water-use strategies involving multiple traits.

  16. Will Elephants Soon Disappear from West African Savannahs?

    PubMed Central

    Bouché, Philippe; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Wittemyer, George; Nianogo, Aimé J.; Doucet, Jean-Louis; Lejeune, Philippe; Vermeulen, Cédric

    2011-01-01

    Precipitous declines in Africa's native fauna and flora are recognized, but few comprehensive records of these changes have been compiled. Here, we present population trends for African elephants in the 6,213,000 km2 Sudano-Sahelian range of West and Central Africa assessed through the analysis of aerial and ground surveys conducted over the past 4 decades. These surveys are focused on the best protected areas in the region, and therefore represent the best case scenario for the northern savanna elephants. A minimum of 7,745 elephants currently inhabit the entire region, representing a minimum decline of 50% from estimates four decades ago for these protected areas. Most of the historic range is now devoid of elephants and, therefore, was not surveyed. Of the 23 surveyed elephant populations, half are estimated to number less than 200 individuals. Historically, most populations numbering less than 200 individuals in the region were extirpated within a few decades. Declines differed by region, with Central African populations experiencing much higher declines (−76%) than those in West Africa (−33%). As a result, elephants in West Africa now account for 86% of the total surveyed. Range wide, two refuge zones retain elephants, one in West and the other in Central Africa. These zones are separated by a large distance (∼900 km) of high density human land use, suggesting connectivity between the regions is permanently cut. Within each zone, however, sporadic contacts between populations remain. Retaining such connectivity should be a high priority for conservation of elephants in this region. Specific corridors designed to reduce the isolation of the surveyed populations are proposed. The strong commitment of governments, effective law enforcement to control the illegal ivory trade and the involvement of local communities and private partners are all critical to securing the future of elephants inhabiting Africa's northern savannas. PMID:21731620

  17. Will elephants soon disappear from West African savannahs?

    PubMed

    Bouché, Philippe; Douglas-Hamilton, Iain; Wittemyer, George; Nianogo, Aimé J; Doucet, Jean-Louis; Lejeune, Philippe; Vermeulen, Cédric

    2011-01-01

    Precipitous declines in Africa's native fauna and flora are recognized, but few comprehensive records of these changes have been compiled. Here, we present population trends for African elephants in the 6,213,000 km² Sudano-Sahelian range of West and Central Africa assessed through the analysis of aerial and ground surveys conducted over the past 4 decades. These surveys are focused on the best protected areas in the region, and therefore represent the best case scenario for the northern savanna elephants. A minimum of 7,745 elephants currently inhabit the entire region, representing a minimum decline of 50% from estimates four decades ago for these protected areas. Most of the historic range is now devoid of elephants and, therefore, was not surveyed. Of the 23 surveyed elephant populations, half are estimated to number less than 200 individuals. Historically, most populations numbering less than 200 individuals in the region were extirpated within a few decades. Declines differed by region, with Central African populations experiencing much higher declines (-76%) than those in West Africa (-33%). As a result, elephants in West Africa now account for 86% of the total surveyed. Range wide, two refuge zones retain elephants, one in West and the other in Central Africa. These zones are separated by a large distance (∼900 km) of high density human land use, suggesting connectivity between the regions is permanently cut. Within each zone, however, sporadic contacts between populations remain. Retaining such connectivity should be a high priority for conservation of elephants in this region. Specific corridors designed to reduce the isolation of the surveyed populations are proposed. The strong commitment of governments, effective law enforcement to control the illegal ivory trade and the involvement of local communities and private partners are all critical to securing the future of elephants inhabiting Africa's northern savannas.

  18. The effects of gap size and disturbance type on invasion of wet pine savanna by cogongrass, Imperata cylindrica (Poaceae).

    PubMed

    King, S E; Grace, J B

    2000-09-01

    Cogongrass is a nonindigenous species perceived to threaten native communities of the southeastern United States through modification of species composition and alteration of community processes. To examine how gap size and disturbance type influence the invasion of wet pine savannas by cogongrass, we performed three field experiments to evaluate the response of cogongrass seeds and transplanted seedlings to four different gap sizes, four types of site disturbance, and recent burning of savanna vegetation. Cogongrass germinated, survived, and grew in all gap sizes, from 0 to 100 cm in diameter. Similarly, disturbance type had no effect on germination or seedling and transplant survival. Tilling, however, significantly enhanced transplanted seedling growth, resulting in a tenfold increase in biomass over the other disturbance types. Seedling survival to 1 and 2 mo was greater in burned savanna than unburned savanna, although transplant survival and growth were not affected by burning. Results of this study suggest that cogongrass can germinate, survive, and grow in wet pine savanna communities regardless of gap size or type of disturbance, including burning. Burning of savanna vegetation may enhance establishment by improving early seedling survival, and soil disturbance can facilitate invasion of cogongrass by enhancing plant growth.

  19. Tree-grass competition for soil water in arid and semiarid savannas: The role of rainfall intermittency

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    D'Onofrio, Donatella; Baudena, Mara; D'Andrea, Fabio; Rietkerk, Max; Provenzale, Antonello

    2015-01-01

    Arid and semiarid savannas are characterized by the coexistence of trees and grasses in water limited conditions. As in all dry lands, also in these savannas rainfall is highly intermittent. In this work, we develop and use a simple implicit-space model to conceptually explore how precipitation intermittency influences tree-grass competition and savanna occurrence. The model explicitly includes soil moisture dynamics, and life-stage structure of the trees. Assuming that water availability affects the ability of both plant functional types to colonize new space and that grasses outcompete tree seedlings, the model is able to predict the expected sequence of grassland, savanna, and forest along a range of mean annual rainfall. In addition, rainfall intermittency allows for tree-grass coexistence at lower mean annual rainfall values than for constant precipitation. Comparison with observations indicates that the model, albeit very simple, is able to capture some of the essential dynamical processes of natural savannas. The results suggest that precipitation intermittency affects savanna occurrence and structure, indicating a new point of view for reanalyzing observational data from the literature.

  20. The effects of gap size and disturbance type on invasion of wet pine savanna by cogongrass, Imperata cylindrica (Poaceae)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    King, S.E.; Grace, J.B.

    2000-01-01

    Cogongrass is a nonindigenous species perceived to threaten native communities of the southeastern United States through modification of species composition and alteration of community processes. To examine how gap size and disturbance type influence the invasion of wet pine savannas by cogongrass, we performed three field experiments to evaluate the response of cogongrass seeds and transplanted seedlings to four different gap sizes, four types of site disturbance, and recent burning of savanna vegetation. Cogongrass germinated, survived, and grew in all gap sizes, from 0 to 100 cm in diameter. Similarly, disturbance type had no effect on germination or seedling and transplant survival. Tilling, however, significantly enhanced transplanted seedling growth, resulting in a tenfold increase in biomass over the other disturbance types. Seedling survival to 1 and 2 mo was greater in burned savanna than unburned savanna, although transplant survival and growth were not affected by burning. Results of this study suggest that cogongrass can germinate, survive, and grow in wet pine savanna communities regardless of gap size or type of disturbance, including burning. Burning of savanna vegetation may enhance establishment by improving early seedling survival, and soil disturbance can facilitate invasion of cogongrass by enhancing plant growth.

  1. Forage nutritive quality in the Serengeti ecosystem: The roles of fire and herbivory

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Anderson, T.M.; Ritchie, M.E.; Mayemba, E.; Eby, S.; Grace, J.B.; McNaughton, S.J.

    2007-01-01

    Fire and herbivory are important determinants of nutrient availability in savanna ecosystems. Fire and herbivory effects on the nutritive quality of savanna vegetation can occur directly, independent of changes in the plant community, or indirectly, via effects on the plant community. Indirect effects can be further subdivided into those occurring because of changes in plant species composition or plant abundance (i.e., quality versus quantity). We studied relationships between fire, herbivory, rainfall, soil fertility, and leaf nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and sodium (Na) at 30 sites inside and outside of Serengeti National Park. Using structural equation modeling, we asked whether fire and herbivory influences were largely direct or indirect and how their signs and strengths differed within the context of natural savanna processes. Herbivory was associated with enhanced leaf N and P through changes in plant biomass and community composition. Fire was associated with reduced leaf nutrient concentrations through changes in plant community composition. Additionally, fire had direct positive effects on Na and nonlinear direct effects on P that partially mitigated the indirect negative effects. Key mechanisms by which fire reduced plant nutritive quality were through reductions of Na-rich grasses and increased abundance of Themeda triandra, which had below-average leaf nutrients. ?? 2007 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

  2. Allelopathic exudates of cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica): implications for the performance of native pine savanna plant species in the southeastern US.

    PubMed

    Hagan, Donald L; Jose, Shibu; Lin, Chung-Ho

    2013-02-01

    We conducted a greenhouse study to assess the effects of cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) rhizochemicals on a suite of plants native to southeastern US pine savanna ecosystems. Our results indicated a possible allelopathic effect, although it varied by species. A ruderal grass (Andropogon arctatus) and ericaceous shrub (Lyonia ferruginea) were unaffected by irrigation with cogongrass soil "leachate" (relative to leachate from mixed native species), while a mid-successional grass (Aristida stricta Michx. var. beyrichiana) and tree (Pinus elliottii) were negatively affected. For A. stricta, we observed a 35.7 % reduction in aboveground biomass, a 21.9 % reduction in total root length, a 24.6 % reduction in specific root length and a 23.5 % reduction in total mycorrhizal root length, relative to the native leachate treatment. For P. elliottii, there was a 19.5 % reduction in percent mycorrhizal colonization and a 20.1 % reduction in total mycorrhizal root length. Comparisons with a DI water control in year two support the possibility that the treatment effects were due to the negative effects of cogongrass leachate, rather than a facilitative effect from the mixed natives. Chemical analyses identified 12 putative allelopathic compounds (mostly phenolics) in cogongrass leachate. The concentrations of most compounds were significantly lower, if they were present at all, in the native leachate. One compound was an alkaloid with a speculated structure of hexadecahydro-1-azachrysen-8-yl ester (C23H33NO4). This compound was not found in the native leachate. We hypothesize that the observed treatment effects may be attributable, at least partially, to these qualitative and quantitative differences in leachate chemistry.

  3. Local density effects on individual production are dynamic: insights from natural stands of a perennial savanna grass.

    PubMed

    Zimmermann, Julia; Higgins, Steven I; Grimm, Volker; Hoffmann, John; Linstädter, Anja

    2015-08-01

    Perennial grasses are a dominant component of grasslands, and provide important ecosystem services. However, most knowledge of grasslands' functioning and production comes from plot-level studies, and drivers of individual-level production remain poorly explored. Extrapolation from existing experiments is hampered by the fact that these are mostly concentrated on even-aged cohorts, and/or on the early stages of a plant's life cycle. Here we explored how local density regulates individual production in mono-specific natural grassland, focusing on adult individuals of a perennial savanna grass (Stipagrostis uniplumis). We found individual production to increase with individuals' size, but to decrease with neighbour abundance. A metric of neighbour abundance that considered size was superior to a metric based solely on the number of individuals. This finding is particularly important for studying competitive effects in natural populations, where plants are normally not even-sized. The inferred competition kernel, i.e. the function describing how competitive strength varies with spatial distance from a target plant, was hump-shaped, indicating strongest intraspecific competition at in