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Sample records for african savanna ecosystems

  1. Spatial Pattern Enhances Ecosystem Functioning in an African Savanna

    PubMed Central

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

    2010-01-01

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

  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. Effect of fuel composition on combustion efficiency and emission factors for African savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ward, D. E.; Hao, W. M.; Susott, R. A.; Babbitt, R. E.; Shea, R. W.; Kauffman, J. B.; Justice, C. O.

    1996-10-01

    Savanna burning in Africa occurs over a wide range of environmental, vegetation, and land use conditions. The emission factors for trace emissions from these fires can vary by a factor of 6 to 8, depending on whether the fires burn in miombo woodlands or in ecosystems where grass vegetation dominates. Ground-based measurements of smoke emissions and aboveground biomass were made for fires in grassland and woodland savanna ecosystems in South Africa and Zambia. A high combustion efficiency (η⌢) was measured for the pure grassland; i.e., a high proportion of carbon was released as CO2. The η⌢ was lower for woodland savanna ecosystems with variable amounts of grass and with a more compact layer of leaf material and litter lying near the ground. The η⌢ was found to be dependent on the ratio of grass to the sum of grass and litter. Models developed for estimating emissions were integrated in a nomogram for estimating total emissions of CO2, CO, CH4, nonmethane hydrocarbons, and particles of less than 2.5 μm diameter per unit area.

  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. PMID:25634599

  8. 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.

  9. Greenhouse gas exchange in West African savanna ecosystems - how important are emissions from termite mounds?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brümmer, C.; Brüggemann, N.

    2012-04-01

    Savannas cover large areas of the Earth's surface and play an important role in global carbon and nitrogen cycling. In this study, we present the soil-atmosphere exchange of N2O, CH4, and CO2 during two field campaigns throughout the growing seasons 2005 and 2006 at a natural savanna site that was not subject to human disturbances except for annual burning, and four agricultural sites planted with sorghum (n=2), cotton and peanut in Burkina Faso. The annual N2O emission of the nature reserve site amounted to 0.52 kg N2O-N ha-1 yr-1 in 2005 and to 0.67 kg N2O-N ha-1 yr-1 in 2006, whereas the calculated average annual N2O release of the crop sites was only 0.19 and 0.20 kg N2O-N ha-1 yr-1 in 2005 and 2006, respectively. As a result of a temporal up-scaling approach, a lower bound of annual N2O release could be given for two fertilized sorghum plots, that is, 0.83 kg N2O-N ha-1 yr-1 for a highly fertilized plot and 0.44 kg N2O-N ha-1 yr-1 for a moderately fertilized plot. During the rainy season both CH4 uptake in the range of up to 20 μg CH4-C m-2 h-1 as well as CH4 emission up to 300 μg CH4-C m-2 h-1 were observed at the nature reserve site, which was on average a CH4 source of 87.4 and 30.8 μg CH4-C m-2 h-1 in 2005 and 2006, respectively. All crop sites were on average weak CH4 sinks without significant seasonal variation. Uptake rates ranged between 2.5 and 8.7 μg CH4-C m-2 h-1. Occasionally very low net CH4 emission was observed after heavy rainfall events. Mean annual CH4 rates could be estimated to 2.48 kg CH4-C ha-1 yr-1 and -0.68 kg CH4-C ha-1 yr-1 for the nature reserve site and the crop sites, respectively. Trace gas emissions from termite (Cubitermes fungifaber) mounds that were almost exclusively found at the nature reserve were one order of magnitude higher for N2O and CO2, and two orders of magnitude higher for CH4 than soil emissions of the respective trace gas. Termite N2O, CH4 and CO2 release at the nature reserve contributed only 3.2%, 8.1% and

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2008-03-01

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

  13. Pyromineralization of soil phosphorus in savanna ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2007-12-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-06-01

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

  15. Fuel biomass and combustion factors associated with fires in savanna ecosystems of South Africa and Zambia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shea, Ronald W.; Shea, Barbara W.; Kauffman, J. Boone; Ward, Darold E.; Haskins, Craig I.; Scholes, Mary C.

    1996-10-01

    Fires are dominant factors in shaping the structure and composition of vegetation in African savanna ecosystems. Emissions such as CO2, NOx, CH4, and other compounds originating from these fires are suspected to contribute substantially to changes in global biogeochemical processes. Limited quantitative data exist detailing characteristics of biomass, burning conditions, and the postfire environment in African savannas. Fourteen test sites, differentiated by distinct burn frequency histories and land-use patterns, were established and burned during August and September 1992 in savanna parklands of South Africa and savanna woodlands of Zambia. Vegetation physiognomy, available fuel loads, the levels of biomass consumed by fire, environmental conditions, and fire behavior are described. In the South African sites, total aboveground fuel loads ranged from 2218 to 5492 kg ha-1 where fire return intervals were 1-4 years and exceeded 7000 kg ha-1 at a site subjected to 38 years of fire exclusion. However, fireline intensity was only 1419 kW m-1 at the fire exclusion site, while ranging from 480 to 6130 kW m-1 among the frequent fire sites. In Zambia, total aboveground fuel loads ranged from 3164 kg ha-1 in a hydromorphic grassland to 7343 kg ha-1 in a fallow shifting cultivation site. Dormant grass and litter constituted 70-98% of the total fuel load among all sites. Although downed woody debris was a relatively minor fuel component at most sites, it constituted 43-57% of the total fuel load in the fire exclusion and shifting cultivation sites. Fire line intensity ranged between 1734 and 4061 kW m-1 among all Zambian sites. Mean grass consumption generally exceeded 95%, while downed woody debris consumption ranged from 3 to 73% at all sites. In tropical savannas and savanna woodlands of southern Africa, differences in environmental conditions, land- use patterns, and fire regimes influence vegetation characteristics and thus influence fire behavior and biomass

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. Terrestrial hydrological controls on land surface phenology of African savannas and woodlands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Guan, Kaiyu; Wood, Eric F.; Medvigy, David; Kimball, John; Pan, Ming; Caylor, Kelly K.; Sheffield, Justin; Xu, Xiangtao; Jones, Matthew O.

    2014-08-01

    This paper presents a continental-scale phenological analysis of African savannas and woodlands. We apply an array of synergistic vegetation and hydrological data records from satellite remote sensing and model simulations to explore the influence of rainy season timing and duration on regional land surface phenology and ecosystem structure. We find that (i) the rainy season onset precedes and is an effective predictor of the growing season onset in African grasslands. (ii) African woodlands generally have early green-up before rainy season onset and have a variable delayed senescence period after the rainy season, with this delay correlated nonlinearly with tree fraction. These woodland responses suggest their complex water use mechanisms (either from potential groundwater use by relatively deep roots or stem-water reserve) to maintain dry season activity. (iii) We empirically find that the rainy season length has strong nonlinear impacts on tree fractional cover in the annual rainfall range from 600 to 1800 mm/yr, which may lend some support to the previous modeling study that given the same amount of total rainfall to the tree fraction may first increase with the lengthening of rainy season until reaching an "optimal rainy season length," after which tree fraction decreases with the further lengthening of rainy season. This nonlinear response is resulted from compound mechanisms of hydrological cycle, fire, and other factors. We conclude that African savannas and deciduous woodlands have distinctive responses in their phenology and ecosystem functioning to rainy season. Further research is needed to address interaction between groundwater and tropical woodland as well as to explicitly consider the ecological significance of rainy season length under climate change.

  3. 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.

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

    PubMed

    Riginos, Corinna

    2015-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

    Coetsee, Corli; Jacobs, Shayne; Govender, Navashni

    2012-02-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Coetsee, Corli; Jacobs, Shayne; Govender, Navashni

    2012-02-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2011-12-01

    To uncover the termite species diversity of a natural African savanna ecosystem, we combined morphological analyses and sequencing of three gene fragments (cytochrome oxidase I, cytochrome oxidase II and 28SrDNA, total length about 2450 bp) to infer putative species from phylogenetic trees. We identified 18 putative species clusters with high support values and which we retrieved consistently. Samples from two genera (Ancistrotermes and Microcerotermes) were excluded from the mitochondrial phylogenetic analyses as they might represent nuclear mitochondrial sequences (NUMTs). In total, our data suggest a species richness of at least 20 species, all but one belonging to the Termitidae (higher termites), and among them the fungus-growing Macrotermitinae were most prevalent with at least nine putative species. Within the fungus-growers the most species-rich genus was Microtermes and its four putative species were all cryptic species. Their abundance in the samples suggests that they play an important ecological role which is completely unstudied also due to the lack of reliable identification means. Our study shows that morphological traits are unreliable means of species identification for several termite taxa. Yet reliable and consistent identification is necessary for studying the functional role of termites in ecosystem and global processes. PMID:21896335

  8. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-04-01

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

  10. Herbivore-initiated interaction cascades and their modulation by productivity in an African savanna.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Robert M; Young, Truman P; Rubenstein, Daniel I; McCauley, Douglas J

    2007-01-01

    Despite conceptual recognition that indirect effects initiated by large herbivores are likely to have profound impacts on ecological community structure and function, the existing literature on indirect effects focuses largely on the role of predators. As a result, we know neither the frequency and extent of herbivore-initiated indirect effects nor the mechanisms that regulate their strength. We examined the effects of ungulates on taxa (plants, arthropods, and an insectivorous lizard) representing several trophic levels, using a series of large, long-term, ungulate-exclusion plots that span a landscape-scale productivity gradient in an African savanna. At each of six sites, lizards, trees, and the numerically dominant order of arthropods (Coleoptera) were more abundant in the absence of ungulates. The effect of ungulates on arthropods was mediated by herbaceous vegetation cover. The effect on lizards was simultaneously mediated by both tree density (lizard microhabitat) and arthropod abundance (lizard food). The magnitudes of the experimental effects on all response variables (trees, arthropods, and lizards) were negatively correlated with two distinct measures of primary productivity. These results demonstrate strong cascading effects of ungulates, both trophic and nontrophic, and support the hypothesis that productivity regulates the strength of these effects. Hence, the strongest indirect effects (and thus, the greatest risks to ecosystem integrity after large mammals are extirpated) are likely to occur in low-productivity habitats. PMID:17190823

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  12. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-02-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2009-10-01

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

  15. 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.

  16. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bunting, Erin L.

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gwenzi, D.; Lefsky, M. A.

    2014-11-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2005-10-01

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

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

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

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

    2013-01-01

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

  1. 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. Trace gas measurements in nascent, aged, and cloud-processed smoke from African savanna fires by airborne Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (AFTIR)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2003-07-01

    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 CO2, CO, H2O, 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 that we detected in nascent smoke were (in order of excess molar abundance) H2O, CO2, CO, CH4, NO2, NO, C2H4, CH3COOH, HCHO, CH3OH, 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. ΔO3/ΔCO and ΔCH3COOH/ΔCO 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 CH3OH, NH3, CH3COOH, SO2, and NO2 levels, but significantly increased HCHO and NO.

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-06-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Turner, S.

    2002-05-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-05-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-01-01

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

  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. PMID:26236841

  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. PMID:23405121

  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. 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.

  11. The Role of Vegetation-Climate Interaction and Interannual Variability in Shaping the African Savanna.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zeng, Ning; Neelin, J. David

    2000-08-01

    Using a coupled atmosphere-land-vegetation model of intermediate complexity, the authors explore how vegetation-climate interaction and internal climate variability might influence the vegetation distribution in Africa. When the model is forced by observed climatological sea surface temperature (SST), positive feedbacks from vegetation changes tend to increase the spatial gradient between desert regions and forest regions at the expense of savanna regions. When interannual variation of SST is included, the climate variability tends to reduce rainfall and vegetation in the wetter regions and to increase them in the drier regions along this gradient, resulting in a smoother desert-forest transition. This effect is most dramatically demonstrated in a model parameter regime for which multiple equilibria (either a desertlike or a forestlike Sahel) can exist when strong vegetation-climate feedbacks are allowed. However, the presence of a variable SST drives the desertlike state and the forestlike state toward an intermediate grasslike state, because of nonlinearities in the coupled system. Both vegetation and interannual variability thus play active roles in shaping the subtropical savanna ecosystem.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    1999-01-01

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

  15. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

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

  17. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-01-01

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

  19. Positive and negative effects of grass, cattle, and wild herbivores on Acacia saplings in an East African savanna.

    PubMed

    Riginos, Corinna; Young, Truman P

    2007-10-01

    Plant-plant interactions can be a complex mixture of positive and negative interactions, with the net outcome depending on abiotic and community contexts. In savanna systems, the effects of large herbivores on tree-grass interactions have rarely been studied experimentally, though these herbivores are major players in these systems. In African savannas, trees often become more abundant under heavy cattle grazing but less abundant in wildlife preserves. Woody encroachment where cattle have replaced wild herbivores may be caused by a shift in the competitive balance between trees and grasses. Here we report the results of an experiment designed to quantify the positive, negative, and net effects of grasses, wild herbivores, and cattle on Acacia saplings in a Kenyan savanna. Acacia drepanolobium saplings under four long-term herbivore regimes (wild herbivores, cattle, cattle + wild herbivores, and no large herbivores) were cleared of surrounding grass or left with the surrounding grass intact. After two years, grass-removal saplings exhibited 86% more browse damage than control saplings, suggesting that grass benefited saplings by protecting them from herbivory. However, the negative effect of grass on saplings was far greater; grass-removal trees accrued more than twice the total stem length of control trees. Where wild herbivores were present, saplings were browsed more and produced more new stem growth. Thus, the net effect of wild herbivores was positive, possibly due to the indirect effects of lower competitor tree density in areas accessible to elephants. Additionally, colonization of saplings by symbiotic ants tracked growth patterns, and colonized saplings experienced lower rates of browse damage. These results suggest that savanna tree growth and woody encroachment cannot be predicted by grass cover or herbivore type alone. Rather, tree growth appears to depend on a variety of factors that may be acting together or antagonistically at different stages of the

  20. Nutrient and Light Limitations on Grass Productivity in a Southern African Savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ries, L. P.; Shugart, H. H.; Caylor, K. K.; Okin, G. S.; Kgope, B.

    2006-12-01

    Despite the ubiquity of sub-tropical savannas throughout the earth, limitations of savanna productivity are understudied relative to other terrestrial systems. In particular, there has been little attention on the role of phosphorus (P) in savanna productivity and structure. This study examined the role of increased nitrogen (N) and P in grass productivity in a woodland savanna in Botswana. We added aqueous forms of N and P individually and together to selected grasses. During the following growing season we measured foliar nutrient concentrations, aboveground biomass productivity and photosynthetic response at various levels of incident photosynthetically active radiation to estimate the productivity response. As expected, we observed an increase in foliar P concentrations in P and N+P treatments. However, there was no increase in foliar N for any treatments. We also observed a significant increase in net carbon assimilation and Amax for all treatments relative to the control grasses. Despite a higher rate of leaf level carbon assimilation in the N treatment, the aboveground biomass production was smaller than that of the N+P treatment. These results suggest that the aboveground productivity of these woodland savanna grasses is limited by both N and P. Additionally, under constant CO2 availability, photosynthesis appears to be limited by nutrients for light levels greater than 500 μmol m-2s-1. This research will help broaden our understanding of the biogeochemical processes that govern savanna productivity. Ultimately, these data can be used to model canopy productivity and ecological succession of savannas under scenarios in which bush encroachment and desertification may alter light and nutrients availability.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2011-01-01

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

  4. Allometric Convergence in Savanna Trees and Implications for the Use of Plant Scaling Models in Variable Ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Tredennick, Andrew T.; Bentley, Lisa Patrick; Hanan, Niall P.

    2013-01-01

    Theoretical models of allometric scaling provide frameworks for understanding and predicting how and why the morphology and function of organisms vary with scale. It remains unclear, however, if the predictions of ‘universal’ scaling models for vascular plants hold across diverse species in variable environments. Phenomena such as competition and disturbance may drive allometric scaling relationships away from theoretical predictions based on an optimized tree. Here, we use a hierarchical Bayesian approach to calculate tree-specific, species-specific, and ‘global’ (i.e. interspecific) scaling exponents for several allometric relationships using tree- and branch-level data harvested from three savanna sites across a rainfall gradient in Mali, West Africa. We use these exponents to provide a rigorous test of three plant scaling models (Metabolic Scaling Theory (MST), Geometric Similarity, and Stress Similarity) in savanna systems. For the allometric relationships we evaluated (diameter vs. length, aboveground mass, stem mass, and leaf mass) the empirically calculated exponents broadly overlapped among species from diverse environments, except for the scaling exponents for length, which increased with tree cover and density. When we compare empirical scaling exponents to the theoretical predictions from the three models we find MST predictions are most consistent with our observed allometries. In those situations where observations are inconsistent with MST we find that departure from theory corresponds with expected tradeoffs related to disturbance and competitive interactions. We hypothesize savanna trees have greater length-scaling exponents than predicted by MST due to an evolutionary tradeoff between fire escape and optimization of mechanical stability and internal resource transport. Future research on the drivers of systematic allometric variation could reconcile the differences between observed scaling relationships in variable ecosystems and those

  5. 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

  6. Spatial Heterogeneity and Sources of Soil Carbon in Southern African Savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Macko, S.; Wang, L.; Okin, G.

    2007-12-01

    Soil organic carbon (SOC) is one of the largest and most dynamic reservoirs of C on Earth, with nearly twice as much C stored in SOC than in the biosphere and atmosphere combined. SOC storage in global tropical savannas constitutes approximately 56 Gt of C, which rises to 216 Gt of C (i.e., about 17% of the terrestrial non- agricultural SOC), when woodlands, shrublands, and desert scrub are included. Savannas cover about 20% of the global land surface, including about one-half of Africa, Australia and South America. The shared dominance of trees and grasses in savannas, the dominant physiognomy in southern Africa, add more complexity to soil C pool partitioning and dynamics than is found in landscapes with a single physiognomy. Here, the spatial variability of the soil C pool was investigated with particular emphasis on understanding the contribution to SOC from trees and grasses at two savanna sites of the Kalahari Transect, one wet and the other dry. Using a combination of stable isotope techniques and geostatistics, the results showed that spatial patterns of soil δ13 C exist and were related to the distributions of woody (C3) and herbaceous (C4) vegetation at both sites. Heterogeneity of the sources of SOC, as well as heterogeneity in the amount of SOC, was greater at the dry site relative to the wet site. At the dry site, the grasses were the major contributor to soil C whereas in the wet site, woody vegetation was the major contributor, regardless of the location with respect to woody canopies.

  7. 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.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2009-12-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-04-01

    Herbivory and fire shape plant community structure in grass-dominated ecosystems, but these disturbance regimes are being altered around the world. To assess the consequences of such alterations, we excluded large herbivores for seven years from mesic savanna grasslands sites burned at different frequencies in North America (Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas, USA) and South Africa (Kruger National Park). We hypothesized that the removal of a single grass-feeding herbivore from Konza would decrease plant community richness and shift community composition due to increased dominance by grasses. Similarly, we expected grass dominance to increase at Kruger when removing large herbivores, but because large herbivores are more diverse, targeting both grasses and forbs, at this study site, the changes due to herbivore removal would be muted. After seven years of large-herbivore exclusion, richness strongly decreased and community composition changed at Konza, whereas little change was evident at Kruger. We found that this divergence in response was largely due to differences in the traits and numbers of dominant grasses between the study sites rather than the predicted differences in herbivore assemblages. Thus, the diversity of large herbivores lost may be less important in determining plant community dynamics than the functional traits of the grasses that dominate mesic, disturbance-maintained savanna grasslands. PMID:24933802

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  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. 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. PMID:26379249

  15. 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. PMID:26919289

  16. 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

  17. 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. PMID:24988772

  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. 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

  1. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-01-01

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. Landscape-scale variation in plant community composition of an African savanna from airborne species mapping.

    PubMed

    Baldeck, C A; Colgan, M S; Féret, J B; Levick, S R; Martin, R E; Asner, G P

    2014-01-01

    Information on landscape-scale patterns in species distributions and community types is vital for ecological science and effective conservation assessment and planning. However, detailed maps of plant community structure at landscape scales seldom exist due to the inability of field-based inventories to map a sufficient number of individuals over large areas. The Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) collected hyperspectral and lidar data over Kruger National Park, South Africa, and these data were used to remotely identify > 500 000 tree and shrub crowns over a 144-km2 landscape using stacked support vector machines. Maps of community compositional variation were produced by ordination and clustering, and the importance of hillslope-scale topo-edaphic variation in shaping community structure was evaluated with redundancy analysis. This remote species identification approach revealed spatially complex patterns in woody plant communities throughout the landscape that could not be directly observed using field-based methods alone. We estimated that topo-edaphic variables representing catenal sequences explained 21% of species compositional variation, while we also uncovered important community patterns that were unrelated to catenas, indicating a large role for other soil-related factors in shaping the savanna community. Our results demonstrate the ability of airborne species identification techniques to map biodiversity for the evaluation of ecological controls on community composition over large landscapes. PMID:24640536

  6. 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.

  7. Daily temporal structure in African savanna flower visitation networks and consequences for network sampling.

    PubMed

    Baldock, Katherine C R; Memmott, Jane; Ruiz-Guajardo, Juan Carlos; Roze, Denis; Stone, Graham N

    2011-03-01

    Ecological interaction networks are a valuable approach to understanding plant-pollinator interactions at the community level. Highly structured daily activity patterns are a feature of the biology of many flower visitors, particularly provisioning female bees, which often visit different floral sources at different times. Such temporal structure implies that presence/absence and relative abundance of specific flower-visitor interactions (links) in interaction networks may be highly sensitive to the daily timing of data collection. Further, relative timing of interactions is central to their possible role in competition or facilitation of seed set among coflowering plants sharing pollinators. To date, however, no study has examined the network impacts of daily temporal variation in visitor activity at a community scale. Here we use temporally structured sampling to examine the consequences of daily activity patterns upon network properties using fully quantified flower-visitor interaction data for a Kenyan savanna habitat. Interactions were sampled at four sequential three-hour time intervals between 06:00 and 18:00, across multiple seasonal time points for two sampling sites. In all data sets the richness and relative abundance of links depended critically on when during the day visitation was observed. Permutation-based null modeling revealed significant temporal structure across daily time intervals at three of the four seasonal time points, driven primarily by patterns in bee activity. This sensitivity of network structure shows the need to consider daily time in network sampling design, both to maximize the probability of sampling links relevant to plant reproductive success and to facilitate appropriate interpretation of interspecific relationships. Our data also suggest that daily structuring at a community level could reduce indirect competitive interactions when coflowering plants share pollinators, as is commonly observed during flowering in highly

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-06-01

    A fatal case of encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) involving an African elephant ( Loxodonta africana ) occurred in November 2013 at the Réserve Africaine de Sigean, France. An adult female was found dead without any preliminary symptoms. Gross pathologic changes consisted of petechiae and hemorrhages on mucosae and internal organs, abundant transudate in the abdominal and pericardial cavities, and myocarditis. Histopathologic examination showed extensive degeneration and necrosis of ventricular cardiomyocytes with concurrent lymphoplasmocytic and eosinophilic infiltrate. An EMCV was isolated from several organs and considered the causative agent of the myocarditis. The same strain of virus was also isolated in rodents captured on zoo premises and considered to be the reservoir of the virus. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first EMCV case in a captive African elephant in Europe. PMID:26056902

  9. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2007-06-01

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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. Photosynthetic properties of C4 plants growing in an African savanna/wetland mosaic.

    PubMed

    Mantlana, K B; Arneth, A; Veenendaal, E M; Wohland, P; Wolski, P; Kolle, O; Wagner, M; Lloyd, J

    2008-01-01

    Photosynthesis rates and photosynthesis-leaf nutrient relationships were analysed in nine tropical grass and sedge species growing in three different ecosystems: a rain-fed grassland, a seasonal floodplain, and a permanent swamp, located along a hydrological gradient in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. These investigations were conducted during the rainy season, at a time of the year when differences in growth conditions between the sites were relatively uniform. At the permanent swamp, the largest variations were found for area-based leaf nitrogen contents, from 20 mmol m(-2) to 140 mmol m(-2), nitrogen use efficiencies (NUE), from 0.2 mmol (C) mol(-1) (N) s(-1) to 2.0 mmol (C) mol(-1) (N) s(-1), and specific leaf areas (SLA), from 50 cm(2) g(-1) to 400 cm(2) g(-1). For the vegetation growing at the rain-fed grassland, the highest leaf gas exchange rates, high leaf nutrient levels, a low ratio of intercellular to ambient CO(2) concentration, and high carboxylation efficiency were found. Taken together, these observations indicate a very efficient growth strategy that is required for survival and reproduction during the relatively brief period of water availability. The overall lowest values of light-saturated photosynthesis (A(sat)) were observed at the seasonal floodplain; around 25 micromol m(-2) s(-1) and 30 micromol m(-2) s(-1). To place these observations into the broader context of functional leaf trait analysis, relationships of photosynthesis rates, specific leaf area, and foliar nutrient levels were plotted, in the same way as was done for previously published 'scaling relationships' that are based largely on C(3) plants, noting the differences in the analyses between this study and the previous study. The within- and across-species variation in both A(sat) and SLA appeared better predicted by foliar phosphorus content (dry mass or area basis) rather than by foliar nitrogen concentrations, possibly because the availability of phosphorus is even more critical

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-07-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2008-12-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2006-02-01

    Baboons are dietary generalists, consuming a wide range of food items in varying proportions. It is thus difficult to quantify and explain the dietary behavior of these primates. We present stable carbon (delta(13)C) and nitrogen (delta(15)N) isotopic data, and percentage nitrogen (%N), of feces from chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) living in two savanna environments of South Africa: the mountainous Waterberg region and the low-lying Kruger National Park. Baboons living in the more homogeneous landscapes of the Waterberg consume a more isotopically heterogeneous diet than their counterparts living in Kruger Park. Grasses and other C(4)-based foods comprise between approximately 10-20% (on average) of the bulk diet of Kruger Park baboons. Carbon isotopic data from the Waterberg suggest diets of approximately 30-50% grass, which is higher than generally reported for baboons across the African savanna. Based on observations of succulent-feeding, we propose that baboons in the Waterberg consume a mix of C(4) grasses and CAM-photosynthesizing succulents in combined proportions varying between approximately 5-75% (average, approximately 35%). Fecal delta(15)N of baboons is lower than that of sympatric ungulates, which may be due to a combination of low levels of faunivory, foraging on subterranean plant parts, or the use of human foods in the case of Kruger Park populations. Fecal N levels in baboons are consistently higher than those of sympatric ungulate herbivores, indicating that baboons consume a greater proportion of protein-rich foods than do other savanna mammals. These data suggest that chacma baboons adapt their dietary behavior so as to maximize protein intake, regardless of their environment. PMID:16247809

  18. 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...

  19. 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.

  20. Measuring and Modeling Ecosystem Photosynthetic Productivity and Respiration in Responses to Climatic Fluctuations in the Past 60 Years at an Oak-Grass Savanna in California

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ma, S.; Baldocchi, D. D.

    2008-12-01

    To predict ecosystem sustainability in future climate scenarios, one of essential questions are how and why current plant species are adaptable to the climate that they have experienced. Based on multi-year measurements of ecosystem CO2 exchange with the eddy-covariance technique at an oak-grass savanna, we were interested in comparing seasonal and inter-annual patterns between oak tree canopy and annual grassland and understanding biogeophysical reasons underlying differences in patterns. With these understanding, we further inferred to the two dominant vegetation layers in response to historical climate fluctuations and teleconnection events. We also examine the Century Model to understand uncertainty in predicting ecosystem photosynthetic productivity and respiration in response to climate fluctuations with considerations of soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics. Modeling results were also compared with empirical analyses. This study provided a practicable approach to examine the potential effects of climate fluctuations and extreme events on ecosystem CO2 exchange, implying assessment of longer-term ecological and biometeorological measurements.

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  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. PMID:26510157

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  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. 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

  9. 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

  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. PMID:26295154

  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. 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).

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chabi, A.

    2015-12-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2013-01-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2013-01-01

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

  16. 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. PMID:26097743

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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. PMID:25044767

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

    PubMed

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

    2005-02-28

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

  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. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. Assessing the role of spatial pattern in governing ecohydrological interactions and vegetation dynamics in semi-arid savannas.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Shugart, H. H.; Caylor, K. K.; Scanlon, T. M.; Rodriguez-Iturbe, I.

    2003-12-01

    The spatial pattern of vegetation is both a cause and effect of variation in resource availability in semiarid ecosystems. At landscape to regional scales, climatic and geologic constraints on soil moisture and nutrient availability are primary determinants of vegetation structural pattern in semiarid ecosystems. Similarly, at local to landscape scales, the patchy vegetation structural mosaic serves to redistribute the availability of soil moisture and nutrients in ways that have important consequences for structural dynamics and community composition. A coupled energy and water balance approach was previously used to simulate the effects of large tree canopies on soil moisture and water stress across a series of sites spanning a regional moisture gradient in southern Africa. Results from the model indicate that tree canopies serve to reduce soil moisture stress of under canopy vegetation in the middle of the rainfall gradient, while at the dry end of the rainfall gradient the effect of tree canopies on soil moisture is dependent on the amount of rainfall received in a given growing season. These findings are used within a modeling framework to assess the relationship between vegetation pattern and subsequent structural dynamics of mixed tree/grass ecosystems in southern African savannas. Special attention is given to the potential for woody vegetation encroachment in southern African savannas under varying levels of climatic change and altered land tenure.

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

    PubMed

    Tredennick, Andrew T; Hanan, Niall P

    2015-05-01

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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-11-01

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

  11. 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

  12. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-01-01

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

  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. 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. PMID:23269321

  16. 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

  17. 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 ...

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. Eco-hydrology driven fire regime in savanna.

    PubMed

    Ursino, Nadia

    2014-08-21

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  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. 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...

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

    PubMed

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

    2014-09-01

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

  13. 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

  14. 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. PMID:24554031

  15. 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. PMID:22057927

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yu, K.; D'Odorico, P.

    2014-12-01

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

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

    SciTech Connect

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

    2013-04-01

    Abstract. 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.

  18. 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. PMID:23691661

  19. Environmental determinants of tropical forest and savanna distribution: A quantitative model evaluation and its implication

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zeng, Zhenzhong; Chen, Anping; Piao, Shilong; Rabin, Sam; Shen, Zehao

    2014-07-01

    The distributions of tropical ecosystems are rapidly being altered by climate change and anthropogenic activities. One possible trend—the loss of tropical forests and replacement by savannas—could result in significant shifts in ecosystem services and biodiversity loss. However, the influence and the relative importance of environmental factors in regulating the distribution of tropical forest and savanna biomes are still poorly understood, which makes it difficult to predict future tropical forest and savanna distributions in the context of climate change. Here we use boosted regression trees to quantitatively evaluate the importance of environmental predictors—mainly climatic, edaphic, and fire factors—for the tropical forest-savanna distribution at a mesoscale across the tropics (between 15°N and 35°S). Our results demonstrate that climate alone can explain most of the distribution of tropical forest and savanna at the scale considered; dry season average precipitation is the single most important determinant across tropical Asia-Australia, Africa, and South America. Given the strong tendency of increased seasonality and decreased dry season precipitation predicted by global climate models, we estimate that about 28% of what is now tropical forest would likely be lost to savanna by the late 21st century under the future scenario considered. This study highlights the importance of climate seasonality and interannual variability in predicting the distribution of tropical forest and savanna, supporting the climate as the primary driver in the savanna biogeography.

  20. Fire in Australian Savannas: from leaf to landscape

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Beringer, J.; Hutley, L. B.; Tapper, N. J.; Cernusak, L. A.; Lynch, A. H.; Görgen, K.; Abramson, D.; Uotila, P.

    2009-04-01

    Tropical savanna ecosystems account for 11.5% of the global landscape (Scholes and Hall 1996). Up to 75% of this landscape burns annually (Hao et al. 1990) and 50% of all biomass burning in tropical regions originates from savannas (Hao and Liu 1994). The wet-dry tropics of northern Australia feature extensive tracts of savanna vegetation which occupy approximately 2 million km2. This area is equivalent to 12% of the world's tropical savanna estate, making this savanna biome of global significance. Fire is arguably the greatest natural and anthropogenic environmental disturbance in this region. Vast tracts are burnt each year by pastoralists, aboriginal landholders and conservation managers (Russell-Smith et al. 2000; Williams et al. 2002). Fire in Australian savannas, results in a scorched canopy that dramatically reduces the green Leaf Area Index (LAI) and blackens the soil. These surface changes are likely to result in altered energy partitioning (enhanced sensible heat flux) and shifts in albedo. In addition, the aerodynamic and biological properties of the ecosystem may change, affecting surface-atmosphere coupling. For example, a loss of canopy leaf area due to fire could reduce canopy photosynthesis and evapotranspiration, greatly influencing post-fire fluxes of water and carbon. We measured radiative, energy and carbon exchanges over unburned and burned open forest savanna at Howard Springs, Darwin, Australia. Fire affected the radiative balance immediately following fire through the consumption of the grass-dominated understorey and blackening of the surface. Albedo was halved following fire (0.12 to 0.06). A moderate intensity fire resulted in a comprehensive canopy scorch and almost complete leaf drop in the weeks following fire. The shutdown of most leaves within the canopy reduced transpiration and altered energy partitioning. Leaf death and shedding also resulted in a cessation of ecosystem carbon uptake and the savanna turned from a sink to a source

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Midgley, Guy F.; Bond, William J.

    2015-09-01

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

  6. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2014-12-01

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

  8. 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. PMID:20684868

  9. 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...

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2009-01-01

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

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

    PubMed Central

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

    2012-01-01

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2012-01-01

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

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2011-08-01

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

  20. 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. PMID:19623927

  1. Regional insight into savanna hydrogeomorphology from termite mounds.

    PubMed

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

    2010-01-01

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

  2. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2016-09-19

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

  4. 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...

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Huang, Cho-Ying

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

  6. 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

  7. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-01-01

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

  9. 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...

  10. Monitoring Phenological Variability across a Tropical Savanna Aridity Gradient with Remote Sensing across Seasonal to Annualand Extreme Events

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Huete, A.; Eamus, D.; Ma, X.; Restrepo-Coupe, N.; Boulain, N.; Hutley, L.

    2011-08-01

    Tropical savannas are key components of the global carbon and water cycles and understanding their functioning is critical to understanding ecosystem feedbacks to global climate. By observing broad scale vegetation responses to climatic variability, remote sensing offers powerful insights into the patterns and processes underlying savanna behaviour. However, savannas are highly complex, multi-layer and heterogenous ecosystems composed of C3 (herbaceous) and C4 (woodland) components with asynchronous phenological responses to environmental controls. There are concerns about optimizing the detection of savanna functioning as well as in understanding their environmental controls with remote-sensing data due to their coarse resolution. Furthermore, seasonalphenologic variations in satellite observations need to be sufficiently accurate to ensure confidence in interpreting vegetation responses to interannual climatic variation and to aid in constraining models of carbon and water fluxes. In this study, we analysed several years of high temporal frequency MODIS and TRMM satellite data sets of vegetation dynamics and rainfall, respectively, to seasonal and interannual responses of savanna multifunctional components to climate variability across a tropical savanna aridity gradient (1760 to 580 mm annual rainfall) in northern Australia. We compared our results with a series of eddy covariance (EC) tower flux data of gross primary production and analyzed a wide set of ecosystem processes including photosynthesis, net primary productivity, phenological metrics in timing of the growing season, and rain use efficiencies. We found MODIS satellite measurements to yield highly accurate spatial and temporal variability in ecosystem functioning and able to replicate interannual patterns and responses to rainfall observed with the EC tower data. Although these results appear promising for regional extensions of satelliteflux tower relationships at the landscape level, we also

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

    PubMed

    Bond, William J

    2014-01-01

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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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.

    2014-06-01

    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 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 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 modelling. Model outcomes, obtained including different mechanisms, are compared 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 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 occurrences 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

  16. Large carnivores make savanna tree communities less thorny.

    PubMed

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

    2014-10-17

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

  17. Pollen-rain-vegetation relationships along a forest-savanna transect in southeastern Cameroon.

    PubMed

    Vincens; Dubois; Guillet; Achoundong; Buchet; Kamgang Kabeyene Beyala V; de Namur C; Riera

    2000-07-01

    Modern soil and litter samples from southeastern Cameroon, collected along a continuous forest-savanna transect were analysed for pollen content to define modern pollen-vegetation relationships. The pollen results, completed and compared with botanical inventories, leaf area index and basal area measurements performed in the same area, clearly registered the physiognomy, the main floristic composition and floral richness of the two sampled ecosystems. Distortions were observed between sampled vegetations and their pollen rain, related to important differences in pollen production and dispersal of plant species: this is a general feature in many tropical regions. The pollen data in the area studied reflected well the recent transgression of forest versus savanna. This permitted us to define inside the forest ecosystem more successional vegetation communities than the botanical surveys allowed. PMID:10930605

  18. 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.

  19. 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

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-12-01

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

  1. 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. PMID:21047678

  2. 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.

  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. Tree Cover Bimodality in Savannas and Forests Emerging from the Switching between Two Fire Dynamics

    PubMed Central

    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. PMID:24663432

  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. 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

    2014-05-01

    Savannas occupy about one fifth of the global land surface and, despite their importance for socio-economical issues, their origin, nature and dynamics are still only partially understood. Owing to the large extent and productivity of savanna biomes, future climate-driven changes in these ecosystems could have large impacts on global biochemical cycles. In the last decades, it has been widely debated which mechanisms are responsible for the coexistence of trees and grass, which characterizes savannas. Along a gradient of water availability, tropical grasslands and forests represent limiting ecosystems where either one or the other life form dominate, respectively in the drier and moister environments. The purpose of this work is to explore tree-grass competition as a function of soil moisture availability, focusing on the drier part of the moisture gradient, where not only water is scarce but also it is highly intermittent and characterized by strong seasonality. To this aim, we developed a simple implicit-space model of tree and grass competition explicitly including soil moisture dynamics and temporal intermittency of rainfall. Assuming that the colonization rates of grasses and trees are soil-moisture-dependent and that tree seedlings are inferior competitors than grasses, the model is able to predict stable grassland, savanna (tree-grass coexistence) and forest along a gradient of mean annual rainfall, as well as variations in tree-grass cover at a fixed mean annual rainfall value, due to precipitation intermittency.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

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

    PubMed

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

    2015-09-01

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

  10. Relation between rainfall intensity and savanna tree abundance explained by water use strategies.

    PubMed

    Xu, Xiangtao; Medvigy, David; Rodriguez-Iturbe, Ignacio

    2015-10-20

    Tree abundance in tropical savannas exhibits large and unexplained spatial variability. Here, we propose that differentiated tree and grass water use strategies can explain the observed negative relation between maximum tree abundance and rainfall intensity (defined as the characteristic rainfall depth on rainy days), and we present a biophysical tree-grass competition model to test this idea. The model is founded on a premise that has been well established in empirical studies, namely, that the relative growth rate of grasses is much higher compared with trees in wet conditions but that grasses are more susceptible to water stress and lose biomass more quickly in dry conditions. The model is coupled with a stochastic rainfall generator and then calibrated and tested using field observations from several African savanna sites. We show that the observed negative relation between maximum tree abundance and rainfall intensity can be explained only when differentiated water use strategies are accounted for. Numerical experiments reveal that this effect is more significant than the effect of root niche separation. Our results emphasize the importance of vegetation physiology in determining the responses of tree abundance to climate variations in tropical savannas and suggest that projected increases in rainfall intensity may lead to an increase in grass in this biome. PMID:26438847

  11. 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. PMID:25039765

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. The climatic sensitivity of the forest, savanna and forest-savanna transition in tropical South America.

    PubMed

    Hirota, Marina; Nobre, Carlos; Oyama, Marcos Daisuke; Bustamante, Mercedes M C

    2010-08-01

    *We used a climate-vegetation-natural fire (CVNF) conceptual model to evaluate the sensitivity and vulnerability of forest, savanna, and the forest-savanna transition to environmental changes in tropical South America. *Initially, under current environmental conditions, CVNF model results suggested that, in the absence of fires, tropical forests would extend c. 200 km into the presently observed savanna domain. *Environmental changes were then imposed upon the model in temperature, precipitation and lightning strikes. These changes ranged from 2 to 6 degrees C warming, +10 to -20% precipitation change and 0 to 15% increase in lightning frequency, which, in aggregate form, represent expected future climatic changes in response to global warming and deforestation. *The most critical vegetation changes are projected to take place over the easternmost portions of the basin, with a widening of the forest-savanna transition. The transition width would increase from 150 to c. 300 km, with tree cover losses ranging from 20 to 85%. This means that c. 6% of the areas currently covered by forests could potentially turn into grass-dominated savanna landscapes. The mechanism driving tree cover reduction consists of the combination of less favorable climate conditions for trees and more fire activity. In addition, this sensitivity analysis predicts that the current dry shrubland vegetation of northeast Brazil could potentially turn into a bare soil landscape. PMID:20609116

  16. 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...

  17. 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

  18. Environmental resource management on the Munduruku savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sheffler, E. Margaret; Southwick, Edward E.

    1984-05-01

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. A comparison of selected ecosystem attributes of three South African estuaries with different freshwater inflow regimes, using network analysis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Scharler, Ursula M.; Baird, Dan

    2005-06-01

    Carbon flow networks of the Kromme, Swartkops and Sundays estuaries, situated on the south coast of South Africa, were analysed using ecological network analysis. A major difference between the three estuaries is the freshwater inflow regimes: The Kromme Estuary receives very little freshwater (annual mean 0.07 m -3 s -1), the Swartkops Estuary receives annually about 0.82 m -3 s -1 while the Sundays Estuary receives on average about 2.74 m -3 s -1 annually. Ecological network analysis revealed differences between most ecosystem attributes such as the cycling of carbon, trophic structure, the organisational and developmental status in terms of ascendency and redundancy, and regarding the contribution to and dependencies of compartments to and on one another in the network. Due to the lack of frequent freshwater inflow and consequently the renewal of the nutrient pool, the Kromme Estuary recycles most of its material and showed the highest detritivory/herbivory ratio (57:1), whereas the Sundays recycles the least proportion and had the lowest detritivory/herbivory ratio at 10:1. The Sundays Estuary, hitherto believed to be dominated by pelagic production, was found to rely more on the benthic biota in terms of carbon throughput as inferred from the contribution and dependency coefficients, than on pelagic communities. Due to the low rate of fresh water inflow into the Kromme Estuary, the absence of an axial salinity gradient, a comparatively high Finn Cycling Index of 40%, and the long water exchange time, this system appears to have developed into an "arm" of the sea. System level properties such as the A/ C ratio, the Average Mutual Information index, and the food web connectance index, increase from the lowest values calculated for the Kromme Estuary, intermediate for the Swartkops Estuary, and highest for the Sundays Estuary, while the FCI followed an inverse trend between the three systems.

  4. 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.

  5. Shifts on reproductive phenology of tropical cerrado savanna trees and climate changes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Morellato, Patricia

    2010-05-01

    Phenology is the study of cyclic biological events and its relationship to abiotic factors. Timing of flowering, fruiting and leafing is highly correlated to environmental factors such as temperature, precipitation, irradiance and isolation. Accordingly, any change in these factors may have a direct effect on the initiation, intensity and duration of different phenophases. Tropical phenology has not contributed much for climatic change research since historical data sets are scarce and the absence of sharp seasons and distinct factors driving phenology makes difficult the detection of changes over time. One way to have insights on climate driven phenology shifts on tropical plants is through the comparison of plant phenology under different environmental conditions. Fragmentation of natural landscape has exposed plants to edge effects - the interaction between two adjacent ecosystems, when the two are separated by an abrupt transition - the edge, including both abiotic and biological changes on environmental conditions that likely affect plant phenology. The microclimatic conditions along edges have important direct biological effects on the reproductive phenology and fitness of plant species. One can expected that the abiotic edge effects on plant phenology may be similar to some extent to certain effects induced by climate change on plant phenology since both involve shifts on environmental conditions. Due to the threatened status and rich biodiversity of Brazilian Neotropical savanna, or the Brazilian Cerrado, the present study aimed to understand edge effects on cerrado savanna species. We compared micro environmental factors and phenology of several species on the edge and in the interior of cerrado savanna. Our first results indicated that shifts on the micro environmental condition may have driven changes in time, duration and intensity of species phenology and may give us insights on savanna responses to climate changes.

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

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alizadeh, Kamaleddin; Cohen, Marcelo; Behling, Hermann

    2015-08-01

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. Isotopic Evidence that Trees Enhance Nitrogen Inputs and Cycling in California Grassland- Savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perakis, S.; Kellogg, C.

    2006-12-01

    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 del15N 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 per mil depletion in soil del15N relative to grass patches. Results from a simple del15N mass balance simulation model, constrained by surface soil N and del15N measured in the field, suggest that the development of islands of N fertility under oaks can be traced primarily to enhanced N inputs, with only a small effect of greater N retention. Net N mineralization and percent nitrification in laboratory incubations were consistently higher under oaks across a range of experimental soil moisture regimes. Collectively these results suggest a scenario whereby greater N inputs to oak patches results 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.

  13. Seasonal variations in methane and nitrous oxide emissions factors in northern Australian savanna woodlands

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Meyer, C. P.(Mick); Cook, Garry; Reisen, Fabienne; Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Maier, Stefan; Schatz, Jon; Yates, Cameron; Watt, Felicity

    2010-05-01

    Burning of savannas and grasslands consumes more than one third of the total annual biomass burning globally. In Australia, savanna fires emit annually from 2% to 4% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. This has led to efforts to reduce savanna burning emissions through early season prescribed burning. These programs aim to change the fire seasonality from predominantly high intensity late season fires which are characterized by low levels of patchiness and high burning efficiencies to early-season fires characterized by low intensity, a high degree of patchiness and low burning efficiency. The result is a net reduction in fire area and associated carbon emissions. Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions is predicated on there being little change in methane (CH4) or nitrous oxide (N2O) emission factors (EFs) as the fire season progresses, however, recent analysis of the emission characteristics of African savanna fires by Korontzi et al., indicates CH4-EF, in particular, could decline substantially as the fire season progresses. If this also occurs in Australian savanna woodlands, then the current mitigation strategy could be ineffective. To address the issue a series of field campaigns were undertaken in the savanna woodlands of Western Arnhem land, Australia to quantify the variability in CH4 and N2O EFs throughout the fire season. This study compared CH4 and N2O EFs measured in smoke sampled from prescribed burning in late June/early July with those from late season fires in early October. It concentrated on the two major vegetation classes in Western Arnhemland; eucalypt open woodland, in which the fuel is composed predominantly tree leaf-litter supplemented by senescent native Sorghum, and sandstone heaths which are dominated by Spinifex hummocks. There were no significant differences in CH4 EFs between early or late season fires, however there were substantial differences between vegetation classes. The woodland emitted 0.3% of fuel carbon as CH4 compared

  14. Beyond Precipitation: Physiographic Gradients Dictate the Relative Importance of Environmental Drivers on Savanna Vegetation

    PubMed Central

    Campo-Bescós, Miguel A.; Muñoz-Carpena, Rafael; Kaplan, David A.; Southworth, Jane; Zhu, Likai; Waylen, Peter R.

    2013-01-01

    Background Understanding the drivers of large-scale vegetation change is critical to managing landscapes and key to predicting how projected climate and land use changes will affect regional vegetation patterns. This study aimed to improve our understanding of the role, magnitude and spatial distribution of the key environmental factors driving vegetation change in southern African savanna, and how they vary across physiographic gradients. Methodology/Principal Findings We applied Dynamic Factor Analysis (DFA), a multivariate times series dimension reduction technique to ten years of monthly remote sensing data (MODIS-derived normalized difference vegetation index, NDVI) and a suite of environmental covariates: precipitation, mean and maximum temperature, soil moisture, relative humidity, fire and potential evapotranspiration. Monthly NDVI was described by cyclic seasonal variation with distinct spatiotemporal patterns in different physiographic regions. Results support existing work emphasizing the importance of precipitation, soil moisture and fire on NDVI, but also reveal overlooked effects of temperature and evapotranspiration, particularly in regions with higher mean annual precipitation. Critically, spatial distributions of the weights of environmental covariates point to a transition in the importance of precipitation and soil moisture (strongest in grass-dominated regions with precipitation<750 mm) to fire, potential evapotranspiration, and temperature (strongest in tree-dominated regions with precipitation>950 mm). Conclusions/Significance We quantified the combined spatiotemporal effects of an available suite of environmental drivers on NDVI across a large and diverse savanna region. The analysis supports known drivers of savanna vegetation but also uncovers important roles of temperature and evapotranspiration. Results highlight the utility of applying the DFA approach to remote sensing products for regional analyses of landscape change in the context of

  15. Molecular phylogeny of Panaspis and Afroablepharus skinks (Squamata: Scincidae) in the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa.

    PubMed

    Medina, Maria F; Bauer, Aaron M; Branch, William R; Schmitz, Andreas; Conradie, Werner; Nagy, Zoltán T; Hibbitts, Toby J; Ernst, Raffael; Portik, Daniel M; Nielsen, Stuart V; Colston, Timothy J; Kusamba, Chifundera; Behangana, Mathias; Rödel, Mark-Oliver; Greenbaum, Eli

    2016-07-01

    African snake-eyed skinks are relatively small lizards of the genera Panaspis and Afroablepharus. Species allocation of these genera frequently changed during the 20th century based on morphology, ecology, and biogeography. Members of these genera occur primarily in savanna habitats throughout sub-Saharan Africa and include species whose highly conserved morphology poses challenges for taxonomic studies. We sequenced two mitochondrial (16S and cyt b) and two nuclear genes (PDC and RAG1) from 76 Panaspis and Afroablepharus samples from across eastern, central, and southern Africa. Concatenated gene-tree and divergence-dating analyses were conducted to infer phylogenies and biogeographic patterns. Molecular data sets revealed several cryptic lineages, with most radiations occurring during the mid-Miocene to Pliocene. We infer that rifting processes (including the formation of the East African Rift System) and climatic oscillations contributed to the expansion and contraction of savannas, and caused cladogenesis in snake-eyed skinks. Species in Panaspis and Afroablepharus used in this study, including type species for both genera, formed a monophyletic group. As a result, the latter genus should be synonymized with the former, which has priority. Conservatively, we continue to include the West African species P. breviceps and P. togoensis within an expanded Panaspis, but note that they occur in relatively divergent clades, and their taxonomic status may change with improved taxon sampling. Divergence estimates and cryptic speciation patterns of snake-eyed skinks were consistent with previous studies of other savanna vertebrate lineages from the same areas examined in this study. PMID:27118179

  16. Forest-Savanna Transitions in West-Africa: The climatic imprint of bimodal distributions in vegetation cover

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dekker, Stefan; Yin, Zun; Baudena, Mara; van den Hurk, Bart; Dijkstra, Henk

    2015-04-01

    Positive land-climate feedbacks can suddenly shift the vegetation state. Observed bimodal distributions of woody cover in West Africa provide evidence that alternative ecosystem states may exist under the same precipitation regimes. Understanding the explicit climate conditions where the woody cover bimodality can exist is important to predict crucial transitions of ecosystems due to climate change. This also helps in understanding the complexity of land-climate interactions. In this study, we show that bimodality can also be observed in mean annual shortwave radiation and above ground biomass. Through conditional histogram analysis, we find that the bimodality of woody cover in West-Africa can only exist under low mean annual shortwave radiation and low above ground biomass. From our analysis we find that the mean annual precipitation is not a sufficient predictor of a potential land cover change. Indicators of climate seasonality are strongly related to the observed land cover type. However, these indicators can only demonstrate the potential occurrence of bimodality but cannot exclude the probability of bimodal vegetation distributions. Regions with high potential of land cover transitions are displayed. The result suggests for instance that the tropical forest in the Congo basin, may be unstable and shows the possibility to significantly decrease. An increase in the area covered by savanna and grass is possible, which coincides with an observed re-greening of the Sahara These findings derived from observations only, are compared with three different Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (JSBACH, LPJ-GUESSSPITFIRE and aDGVM) describing the forest, savanna, and grassland transitions. Through these comparisons we improve the understanding of the bistable behavior of savanna systems due to two main mechanisms, 1) water limitation to tree growth, and tree-grass competition for water, 2) a grass-fire feedback, which maintains both forest and savanna occurrences in mesic

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Emissions from savanna fires in southern Africa

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Sinha, Parikhit

    2004-12-01

    Airborne measurements are presented of emissions from savanna fires in southern Africa during the dry season. Measurements were obtained aboard the University of Washington Convair-580 research aircraft during the SAFARI 2000 field project in August and September 2000. Savanna fires in southern Africa emit a wide range of gaseous and particulate species including carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, halogen, and oxygenated compounds. Emission factors, emission ratios, and regional emissions of fifty trace gas and particulate species were derived, including eight species not previously reported in the literature (dimethyl sulfide, methyl nitrate, five species of hydrocarbons, and particles with diameters from 0.1--3 mum diameter). The physical, chemical, and radiative properties of the plume from a large savanna fire in South Africa are characterized, including plume dimensions, secondary formation of ozone and organic acids, oxidation of hydrocarbons, coagulation of particles, and gas-to-particle conversion in aged smoke. Numerous fires, thermodynamically stable layers aloft, and large-scale anticylonic flow result in high concentrations of air pollution distributed throughout the lower troposphere over southern Africa during the dry season. Average regional concentrations of CO (261 +/- 81 ppbv), SO2 (2.5 +/- 1.6 ppbv), O3 (64 +/- 13 ppbv), black particulate carbon (2.3 +/- 1.9 mug m-3), organic particulate carbon (6.2 +/- 5.2 mug m-3), total particle mass (26.0 +/- 4.7 mug m-3) are comparable to those found in polluted urban environments. The GEOS-CHEM model of tropospheric chemistry is used to characterize the transport of biomass burning emissions from southern Africa to the neighboring Atlantic and Indian Oceans during the dry season (May--October) of 2000. A large quantity of biomass burning emissions from southern Africa is transported westward over the latitudes 0--20°S to the southern Atlantic Ocean (˜40 Tg CO from May--October), contributing to a pollution anomaly

  1. 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. PMID:20063168

  2. 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.

  3. 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. PMID:18386078

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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. PMID:26426539

  8. 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.

  9. Land-use changes alter CO2 flux patterns of a tall-grass Andropogon field and a savanna-woodland continuum in the Orinoco lowlands.

    PubMed

    San José, José; Montes, Rubén; Grace, John; Nikonova, Nina

    2008-03-01

    Land use changes in the savannas of the Orinoco lowlands have resulted in a mosaic of vegetation. To elucidate how these changes have affected carbon exchanges with the atmosphere, we measured CO2 fluxes by eddy covariance and soil CO2 efflux systems along a disturbance gradient beginning with a cultivated tall-grass Andropogon field (S1) and extending over three savanna sites with increasing woody cover growing above native herbaceous vegetation. The savanna sites included a herbaceous savanna (S2), a tree savanna (S3) and a woodland savanna (S4). During the wet season, maximum diurnal net ecosystem exchange (NEE) over the S1-S4 sites was 6.6-9.3, 6.6-7.9, 10.6-11.3 and 9.3-10.6 micromol m(-2) s(-1), respectively. The rate of CO2 uptake over S1 was lower than that for C4 grasses elsewhere because of pasture degradation. Soil respiration and temperature were exponentially related when soil water content (theta) was above 0.083 m(3) m(-3); however, soil respiration declined markedly as theta decreased from 0.083-0.090 to 0.033-0.056 m(3) m(-3). There were bursts of CO2 emission when dry soils were rewetted by rainfall. During the wet season, all sites constituted carbon sinks with maximum net daily ecosystem production (NEP) of 2.1, 1.7, 2.1 and 2.1 g C m(-2) day(-1), respectively. During the dry season, the savanna sites (S2-S4) became carbon sources with maximum emission fluxes of -0.5, -1.4 and -1.6 g C m(-2) day(-1), respectively, whereas the tall-grass field (S1) remained a carbon sink with a maximum NEP of 0.3 g C m(-2) day(-1) at the end of the season. For all measurement periods, annual NEP of sites S1-S4 was 366, 6, 116 and 139 g C m(-2), respectively. Comparisons of carbon source/sink dynamics across a wide range of savannas indicate that savanna carbon budgets can change in sign and magnitude. On an annual basis, gross primary production over the S1-S4 stands was 797, 803, 136 and 1230 g C m(-2), respectively. Net primary productivity (NPP) of the S1-S4

  10. 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.

  11. 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. PMID:26375016

  12. Reconstruction of the Dynamics of Mammoth Tundra-Steppe Ecosystem Productivity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zimov, S. A.; Chapin, F. S.

    2001-12-01

    During periods of glaciation, the mammoth tundra-steppe (MTS) ecosystem was the largest biome.The productivity of this ecosystem is under discussion. During the Pleistocene, a thick layer of frozen loess accumulated on the lowlands of northern Siberia. As loess deposited on the surface, the bottom of the soil profile was incorporated into permafrost. Present-day frozen loess soils of Siberia are cryo-preserved soils of the MTS. These soils have little humus but contain large quantities of grass roots and live Pleistocene microorganisms. As the soil melts, they start to respire actively. Analysis of vertical distribution of respiration in different types of modern soil and permafrost showed that respiration potential of cryo-preserved soil is similar to respiration of low soil horizons. On the basis of the correlation of photosynthesis to respiration, we calculated productivity of the MTS ecosystem and reconstructed its dynamics. Dynamics of MTS productivity was evaluated through the dynamics of the relative quantities of herbivorous animals. We analyzed the distribution of about 600 14C dates of mammoths, bison, and rhinoceroses. An estimate of the absolute density of mammoths in the north of Siberia was calculated on the basis of data collected on the density of skeletons buried in the permafrost. Our investigations showed that vegetation productivity and density of herbivorous animals in the MTS ecosystem varied within a wide range depending on climate. Dynamics of these parameters correlate with data of temperature and atmospheric CH4 obtained from Greenland cores. During periods of climate warming the quantity of mammoths in the north of Siberia was comparable to the quantity of elephants in present-day undisturbed African savanna.

  13. 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...

  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 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Harvesting tree biomass at the stand level to assess the accuracy of field and airborne biomass estimation in savannas.

    PubMed

    Colgan, Matthew S; Asner, Gregory P; Swemmer, Tony

    2013-07-01

    Tree biomass is an integrated measure of net growth and is critical for understanding, monitoring, and modeling ecosystem functions. Despite the importance of accurately measuring tree biomass, several fundamental barriers preclude direct measurement at large spatial scales, including the facts that trees must be felled to be weighed and that even modestly sized trees are challenging to maneuver once felled. Allometric methods allow for estimation of tree mass using structural characteristics, such as trunk diameter. Savanna trees present additional challenges, including limited available allometry and a prevalence of multiple stems per individual. Here we collected airborne lidar data over a semiarid savanna adjacent to the Kruger National Park, South Africa, and then harvested and weighed woody plant biomass at the plot scale to provide a standard against which field and airborne estimation methods could be compared. For an existing airborne lidar method, we found that half of the total error was due to averaging canopy height at the plot scale. This error was eliminated by instead measuring maximum height and crown area of individual trees from lidar data using an object-based method to identify individual tree crowns and estimate their biomass. The best object-based model approached the accuracy of field allometry at both the tree and plot levels, and it more than doubled the accuracy compared to existing airborne methods (17% vs. 44% deviation from harvested biomass). Allometric error accounted for less than one-third of the total residual error in airborne biomass estimates at the plot scale when using allometry with low bias. Airborne methods also gave more accurate predictions at the plot level than did field methods based on diameter-only allometry. These results provide a novel comparison of field and airborne biomass estimates using harvested plots and advance the role of lidar remote sensing in savanna ecosystems. PMID:23967584

  18. The initial phase of a Longleaf Pine-Wiregrass Savanna restoration: species establishment and community responses.

    SciTech Connect

    Aschenbach, Todd, A; Foster, Bryan, L.; Imm, Donald, W.

    2010-09-01

    AbstractAbstract The significant loss of the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem in the southeastern United States has serious implications for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. In response to this loss, we have initiated a long-term and landscape-scale restoration experiment at the 80,125 ha (310 mi2) Department of Energy Savannah River Site (SRS) located near Aiken, South Carolina. Aristida beyrichiana (wiregrass), an important and dominant grass (i.e., a “matrix” species) of the longleaf pine savanna understory, and 31 other herbaceous “non-matrix” species were planted at six locations throughout SRS in 2002 and 2003. Of the 36,056 transplanted seedlings, 75% were still alive in June 2004, while mean 1–2 year survival across all planted species was 48%. Lespedeza hirta (hairy lespedeza) exhibited the greatest overall survival per 3 ×3 m cell at 95%, whereas Schizachyrium spp. (little bluestem) exhibited the greatest mean cover among individual species at 5.9%. Wiregrass survival and cover were significantly reduced when planted with non-matrix species. Aggregate cover of all planted species in restored cells averaged 25.9% in 2006. High rates of survival and growth of the planted species resulted in greater species richness (SR), diversity, and vegetative cover in restored cells. Results suggest that the loss of the longleaf pine-wiregrass ecosystem may be ameliorated through restoration efforts and illustrate the positive impact of restoration plantings on biodiversity and vegetative cover.

  19. 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

  20. 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

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. Disruption of a protective ant-plant mutualism by an invasive ant increases elephant damage to savanna trees.

    PubMed

    Riginos, Corinna; Karande, Megan A; Rubenstein, Daniel I; Palmer, Todd M

    2015-03-01

    Invasive species can indirectly affect ecosystem processes via the disruption of mutualisms. The mutualism between the whistling thorn acacia (Acacia drepanolobium) and four species of symbiotic ants is an ecologically important one; ants strongly defend trees against elephants, which can otherwise have dramatic impacts on tree cover. In Laikipia, Kenya, the invasive big-headed ant (Pheidole megacephala) has established itself at numerous locations within the last 10-15 years. In invaded areas on five properties, we found that three species of symbiotic Crematogaster ants were virtually extirpated, whereas Tetraponera penzigi co-occurred with P. megacephala. T. penzigi appears to persist because of its nonaggressive behavior; in a whole-tree translocation experiment, Crematogaster defended host trees against P. megacephala, but were extirpated from trees within hours. In contrast, T. penzigi retreated into domatia and withstood invading ants for >30 days. In the field, the loss of defensive Crematogaster ants in invaded areas led to a five- to sevenfold increase in the number of trees catastrophically damaged by elephants compared to uninvaded areas. In savannas, tree cover drives many ecosystem processes and provides essential forage for many large mammal species; thus, the invasion of big-headed ants may strongly alter the dynamics and diversity of East Africa's whistling thorn savannas by disrupting this system's keystone acaciaant mutualism. PMID:26236862

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. A grass–fire cycle eliminates an obligate-seeding tree in a tropical savanna

    PubMed Central

    Bowman, David M J S; MacDermott, Harry J; Nichols, Scott C; Murphy, Brett P

    2014-01-01

    A grass–fire cycle in Australian tropical savannas has been postulated as driving the regional decline of the obligate-seeding conifer Callitris intratropica and other fire-sensitive components of the regional flora and fauna, due to proliferation of flammable native grasses. We tested the hypothesis that a high-biomass invasive savanna grass drives a positive feedback process where intense fires destroy fire-sensitive trees, and the reduction in canopy cover facilitates further invasion by grass. We undertook an observational and experimental study using, as a model system, a plantation of C. intratropica that has been invaded by an African grass, gamba (Andropogon gayanus) in the Northern Territory, Australia. We found that high grass biomass was associated with reduced canopy cover and restriction of foliage to the upper canopy of surviving stems, and mortality of adult trees was very high (>50%) even in areas with low fuel loads (1 t·ha−1). Experimental fires, with fuel loads >10 t·ha−1, typical of the grass-invasion front, caused significant mortality due to complete crown scorch. Lower fuel loads cause reduced canopy cover through defoliation of the lower canopy. These results help explain how increases in grass biomass are coupled with the decline of C. intratropica throughout northern Australia by causing a switch from litter and sparse perennial grass fuels, and hence low-intensity surface fires, to heavy annual grass fuel loads that sustain fires that burn into the midstorey. This study demonstrates that changes in fuel type can alter fire regimes with substantial knock-on effects on the biota. PMID:25505543

  7. 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

  8. 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…

  9. Coupling carbon allocation with leaf and root phenology predicts tree-grass partitioning along a savanna rainfall gradient

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Haverd, V.; Smith, B.; Raupach, M.; Briggs, P.; Nieradzik, L.; Beringer, J.; Hutley, L.; Trudinger, C. M.; Cleverly, J.

    2015-10-01

    The relative complexity of the mechanisms underlying savanna ecosystem dynamics, in comparison to other biomes such as temperate and tropical forests, challenges the representation of such dynamics in ecosystem and Earth system models. A realistic representation of processes governing carbon allocation and phenology for the two defining elements of savanna vegetation (namely trees and grasses) may be a key to understanding variations in tree/grass partitioning in time and space across the savanna biome worldwide. Here we present a new approach for modelling coupled phenology and carbon allocation, applied to competing tree and grass plant functional types. The approach accounts for a temporal shift between assimilation and growth, mediated by a labile carbohydrate store. This is combined with a method to maximise long-term net primary production (NPP) by optimally partitioning plant growth between fine roots and (leaves + stem). The computational efficiency of the analytic method used here allows it to be uniquely and readily applied at regional scale, as required, for example, within the framework of a global biogeochemical model. We demonstrate the approach by encoding it in a new simple carbon/water cycle model that we call HAVANA (Hydrology and Vegetation-dynamics Algorithm for Northern Australia), coupled to the existing POP (Population Orders Physiology) model for tree demography and disturbance-mediated heterogeneity. HAVANA-POP is calibrated using monthly remotely-sensed fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fPAR) and eddy-covariance-based estimates of carbon and water fluxes at 5 tower sites along the Northern Australian Tropical Transect (NATT), which is characterized by large gradients in rainfall and wildfire disturbance. The calibrated model replicates observed gradients of fPAR, tree leaf area index, basal area and foliage projective cover along the NATT. The model behaviour emerges from complex feed-backs between the plant

  10. Coupling carbon allocation with leaf and root phenology predicts tree-grass partitioning along a savanna rainfall gradient

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Haverd, V.; Smith, B.; Raupach, M.; Briggs, P.; Nieradzik, L.; Beringer, J.; Hutley, L.; Trudinger, C. M.; Cleverly, J.

    2016-02-01

    The relative complexity of the mechanisms underlying savanna ecosystem dynamics, in comparison to other biomes such as temperate and tropical forests, challenges the representation of such dynamics in ecosystem and Earth system models. A realistic representation of processes governing carbon allocation and phenology for the two defining elements of savanna vegetation (namely trees and grasses) may be a key to understanding variations in tree-grass partitioning in time and space across the savanna biome worldwide. Here we present a new approach for modelling coupled phenology and carbon allocation, applied to competing tree and grass plant functional types. The approach accounts for a temporal shift between assimilation and growth, mediated by a labile carbohydrate store. This is combined with a method to maximize long-term net primary production (NPP) by optimally partitioning plant growth between fine roots and (leaves + stem). The computational efficiency of the analytic method used here allows it to be uniquely and readily applied at regional scale, as required, for example, within the framework of a global biogeochemical model.We demonstrate the approach by encoding it in a new simple carbon-water cycle model that we call HAVANA (Hydrology and Vegetation-dynamics Algorithm for Northern Australia), coupled to the existing POP (Population Orders Physiology) model for tree demography and disturbance-mediated heterogeneity. HAVANA-POP is calibrated using monthly remotely sensed fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation (fPAR) and eddy-covariance-based estimates of carbon and water fluxes at five tower sites along the North Australian Tropical Transect (NATT), which is characterized by large gradients in rainfall and wildfire disturbance. The calibrated model replicates observed gradients of fPAR, tree leaf area index, basal area, and foliage projective cover along the NATT. The model behaviour emerges from complex feedbacks between the plant

  11. 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

  12. Multi-Sensor Model-Data Assimilation for Improved Modeling of Savanna Carbon and Water Budgets

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Barrett, D. J.; Renzullo, L. J.; Guerschman, J.; Hill, M. J.

    2007-12-01

    reflectances in optical wavebands. Results show that the multiple constraints approach is effective in identifying and reducing the influence of bias on the resultant analysis that occurs when only single observation data sets are used. Reductions in error and bias lead to improved prognoses of soil profile water store and forecasts of rainfall runoff. The development and routine application of model-data assimilation methods in savanna biophysical modeling will improve performance of ecosystem biophysical models, assist with the design of filed campaigns to maximize uncertainty reduction, fill gaps in knowledge of the carbon and water dynamics of savannas and provide better information on which to base decision making to solve natural resource management problems in this biome.

  13. Soil feedback of exotic savanna grass relates to pathogen absence and mycorrhizal selectivity.

    PubMed

    van der Putten, W H; Kowalchuk, G A; Brinkman, E P; Doodeman, G T A; van der Kaaij, R M; Kamp, A F D; Menting, F B J; Veenendaal, E M

    2007-04-01

    processes may occur in arid savanna ecosystems. Pathogenicity tests implicated the involvement of soil pathogens in the soil feedback responses, and further studies should reveal the functional consequences of the observed high infection with a low diversity of AMF in the roots of exotic plants. PMID:17536713

  14. Evaluation and analysis of a dynamic terrestrial ecosystem model under preindustrial conditions at the global scale

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Friend, Andrew D.; White, Andrew

    2000-12-01

    The ability of a mechanistically based dynamic terrestrial ecosystem model, Hybrid v4.1, to predict the global distribution of vegetation, primary productivity, biomass carbon, and soil carbon under preindustrial conditions of climate, atmospheric CO2, and nitrogen deposition is evaluated. This model predicts the dynamic global distribution of eight Plant Functional Types (PFTs) by treating the interactions between individual trees, an herbaceous layer, and their physical environment at independent points on the land surface. Carbon, water, and nitrogen flows are simulated on a daily, or subdaily, basis resulting in dynamic predictions of productivity, biomass, and plant and soil carbon and nitrogen contents. Hybrid v4.1 successfully predicts the major global patterns of preindustrial vegetation, primary productivity, biomass carbon, and soil carbon. When not subject to competition, single PFTs have much broader distributions across climatic gradients than when allowed to compete with one another, demonstrating the importance of competition in determining vegetation distribution. Trade-offs between the avoidance of frost and drought damage, growing season length, and foliage nitrogen allocation determine the relative performance of tree PFTs along climatic gradients. Six areas of disagreement between prediction and reality are noted: (1) African savanna, (2) South American grassland, (3) an area of desert in Amazonia, (4) Southern Chinese evergreen forest, (5) Siberian larch forest, and (6) tundra. These discrepancies provide useful information for future model development.

  15. 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.

  16. Savanna fires increase rates and distances of seed dispersal by ants.

    PubMed

    Parr, C L; Andersen, A N; Chastagnol, C; Duffaud, C

    2007-02-01

    Myrmecochory (seed dispersal by ants) is a prominent dispersal mechanism in many environments, and can play a key role in local vegetation dynamics. Here we investigate its interaction with another key process in vegetation dynamics-fire. We examine ant dispersal of seeds immediately before and after experimental burning in an Australian tropical savanna, one of the world's most fire-prone ecosystems. Specifically, our study addressed the effects of burning on: (1) the composition of ants removing seeds, (2) number of seed removals, and (3) distance of seed dispersal. Fire led to higher rates of seed removal post-fire when compared with unburnt habitat, and markedly altered dispersal distance, with mean dispersal distance increasing more than twofold (from 1.6 to 3.8 m), and many distance dispersal events greater than the pre-fire maximum (7.55 m) being recorded. These changes were due primarily to longer foraging ranges of species of Iridomyrmex, most likely in response to the simplification of their foraging landscape. The significance of enhanced seed-removal rates and distance dispersal for seedling establishment is unclear because the benefits to plants in having their seeds dispersed by ants in northern Australia are poorly known. However, an enhanced removal rate would enhance any benefit of reduced predation by rodents. Similarly, the broader range of dispersal distances would appear to benefit plants in terms of reduced parent-offspring conflict and sibling competition, and the location of favourable seedling microsites. Given the high frequency of fire in Australian tropical savannas, enhanced benefits of seed dispersal by ants would apply for much of the year. PMID:17033801

  17. Pyrogenic carbon from tropical savanna burning: production and stable isotope composition

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Saiz, G.; Wynn, J. G.; Wurster, C. M.; Goodrick, I.; Nelson, P. N.; Bird, M. I.

    2014-10-01

    Widespread burning of mixed tree-grass ecosystems represents the major natural locus of pyrogenic carbon (PyC) production. PyC is a significant, pervasive, and yet poorly understood "slow-cycling" form of carbon present in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, soils and sediments. We conducted sixteen experimental burns on a rainfall transect in northern Australian savannas with C4 grasses ranging from 35 to 99% of total biomass. Residues from each fire were partitioned into PyC and further into recalcitrant (HyPyC) components, with each of these also partitioned into proximal (> 125 μm) and distal (< 125 μm) fluxes. The median [range] PyC production across all burns was 16.0 [11.5]% of total carbon exposed (TCE), with HyPyC accounting for 2.5 [4.9]% of TCE. Both PyC and HyPyC were dominantly partitioned into the proximal flux, likely to remain (initially) close to the site of production. Production of HyPyC was strongly related to fire residence time, with shorter duration fires resulting in higher HyPyC yields. The carbon isotope (δ13C) compositions of PyC and HyPyC were generally lower by 1-3‰ relative to the original biomass, with marked depletion up to 7 ‰ for grasslands dominated by C4 biomass. δ13C values of CO2 produced by combustion was computed by mass balance and ranged from ~0.4 to 1.3‰. The depletion of 13C in PyC and HyPyC relative to the original biomass has significant implications for the interpretation of δ13C values of savanna soil organic carbon and of ancient PyC preserved in the geologic record, and for global 13C isotopic disequilibria calculations.

  18. Seasonal variation of carbon fluxes in a sparse savanna in semi arid Sudan

    PubMed Central

    Ardö, Jonas; Mölder, Meelis; El-Tahir, Bashir Awad; Elkhidir, Hatim Abdalla Mohammed

    2008-01-01

    Background Large spatial, seasonal and annual variability of major drivers of the carbon cycle (precipitation, temperature, fire regime and nutrient availability) are common in the Sahel region. This causes large variability in net ecosystem exchange and in vegetation productivity, the subsistence basis for a major part of the rural population in Sahel. This study compares the 2005 dry and wet season fluxes of CO2 for a grass land/sparse savanna site in semi arid Sudan and relates these fluxes to water availability and incoming photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD). Data from this site could complement the current sparse observation network in Africa, a continent where climatic change could significantly impact the future and which constitute a weak link in our understanding of the global carbon cycle. Results The dry season (represented by Julian day 35–46, February 2005) was characterized by low soil moisture availability, low evapotranspiration and a high vapor pressure deficit. The mean daily NEE (net ecosystem exchange, Eq. 1) was -14.7 mmol d-1 for the 12 day period (negative numbers denote sinks, i.e. flux from the atmosphere to the biosphere). The water use efficiency (WUE) was 1.6 mmol CO2 mol H2O-1 and the light use efficiency (LUE) was 0.95 mmol CO2 mol PPFD-1. Photosynthesis is a weak, but linear function of PPFD. The wet season (represented by Julian day 266–273, September 2005) was, compared to the dry season, characterized by slightly higher soil moisture availability, higher evapotranspiration and a slightly lower vapor pressure deficit. The mean daily NEE was -152 mmol d-1 for the 8 day period. The WUE was lower, 0.97 mmol CO2 mol H2O-1 and the LUE was higher, 7.2 μmol CO2 mmol PPFD-1 during the wet season compared to the dry season. During the wet season photosynthesis increases with PPFD to about 1600 μmol m-2s-1 and then levels off. Conclusion Based on data collected during two short periods, the studied ecosystem was a sink of carbon

  19. 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

  20. Analysis of stable states in global savannas: is the CART pulling the horse?

    PubMed Central

    Hanan, Niall P; Tredennick, Andrew T; Prihodko, Lara; Bucini, Gabriela; Dohn, Justin

    2014-01-01

    Multiple stable states, bifurcations and thresholds are fashionable concepts in the ecological literature, a recognition that complex ecosystems may at times exhibit the interesting dynamic behaviours predicted by relatively simple biomathematical models. Recently, several papers in Global Ecology and Biogeography, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Science and elsewhere have attempted to quantify the prevalence of alternate stable states in the savannas of Africa, Australia and South America, and the tundra–taiga–grassland transitions of the circum-boreal region using satellite-derived woody canopy cover. While we agree with the logic that basins of attraction can be inferred from the relative frequencies of ecosystem states observed in space and time, we caution that the statistical methodologies underlying the satellite product used in these studies may confound our ability to infer the presence of multiple stable states. We demonstrate this point using a uniformly distributed ‘pseudo-tree cover’ database for Africa that we use to retrace the steps involved in creation of the satellite tree-cover product and subsequent analysis. We show how classification and regression tree (CART)-based products may impose discontinuities in satellite tree-cover estimates even when such discontinuities are not present in reality. As regional and global remote sensing and geospatial data become more easily accessible for ecological studies, we recommend careful consideration of how error distributions in remote sensing products may interact with the data needs and theoretical expectations of the ecological process under study. PMID:26430386

  1. Multilocus phylogeography of a widespread savanna-woodland-adapted rodent reveals the influence of Pleistocene geomorphology and climate change in Africa's Zambezi region.

    PubMed

    McDonough, Molly M; Šumbera, Radim; Mazoch, Vladimír; Ferguson, Adam W; Phillips, Caleb D; Bryja, Josef

    2015-10-01

    Understanding historical influences of climate and physiographic barriers in shaping patterns of biodiversity remains limited for many regions of the world. For mammals of continental Africa, phylogeographic studies, particularly for West African lineages, implicate both geographic barriers and climate oscillations in shaping small mammal diversity. In contrast, studies for southern African species have revealed conflicting phylogenetic patterns for how mammalian lineages respond to both climate change and geologic events such as river formation, especially during the Pleistocene. However, these studies were often biased by limited geographic sampling or exclusively focused on large-bodied taxa. We exploited the broad southern African distribution of a savanna-woodland-adapted African rodent, Gerbilliscus leucogaster (bushveld gerbil) and generated mitochondrial, autosomal and sex chromosome data to quantify regional signatures of climatic and vicariant biogeographic phenomena. Results indicate the most recent common ancestor for all G. leucogaster lineages occurred during the early Pleistocene. We documented six divergent mitochondrial lineages that diverged ~0.270-0.100 mya, each of which was geographically isolated during periods characterized by alterations to the course of the Zambezi River and its tributaries as well as regional 'megadroughts'. Results demonstrate the presence of a widespread lineage exhibiting demographic expansion ~0.065-0.035 mya, a time that coincides with savanna-woodland expansion across southern Africa. A multilocus autosomal perspective revealed the influence of the Kafue River as a current barrier to gene flow and regions of secondary contact among divergent mitochondrial lineages. Our results demonstrate the importance of both climatic fluctuations and physiographic vicariance in shaping the distribution of southern African biodiversity. PMID:26340076

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. Comment on "Global resilience of tropical forest and savanna to critical transitions".

    PubMed

    Ratajczak, Zak; Nippert, Jesse B

    2012-05-01

    Hirota et al. (Reports, 14 October 2011, p. 232) used spatial data to show that grasslands, savannas, and forests represent opposing stable states. Reanalyzing their data and drawing from temporal studies, we argue that spatial analyses underestimate the bistability of grasslands and savannas due to limitations of substituting space for time. We propose that temporal and spatial data are needed to predict critical transitions between grasslands and savannas. PMID:22556235

  5. Convergent phylogenetic and functional responses to altered fire regimes in mesic savanna grasslands of North America and South Africa.

    PubMed

    Forrestel, Elisabeth J; Donoghue, Michael J; Smith, Melinda D

    2014-08-01

    The importance of fire in the creation and maintenance of mesic grassland communities is well recognized. Improved understanding of how grasses--the dominant clade in these important ecosystems--will respond to alterations in fire regimes is needed in the face of anthropogenically driven climate and land-use change. Here, we examined how grass communities shift in response to experimentally manipulated fire regimes at multiple levels of community diversity--taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional--in C4-dominanted mesic savanna grassland sites with similar structure and physiognomy, yet disparate biogeographic histories. We found that the grass communities were similar in their phylogenetic response and aspects of their functional response to high fire frequency. Both sites exhibited phylogenetic clustering of highly abundant species in annually burned plots, driven by species of the Andropogoneae, and a narrow range of functional strategies associated with rapid post-fire regeneration in a high-light, nitrogen-limited environment. By examining multiple facets of diversity in a comparative context, we identified convergent phylogenetic and functional responses to altered fire regimes in two mesic savanna grasslands. Our results highlight the importance of a common filtering process associated with fire that is consistent across grasslands of disparate biogeographic histories and taxonomic representation. PMID:24835304

  6. 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

  7. 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. PMID:26849674

  8. Insectivory of savanna chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Fongoli, Senegal.

    PubMed

    Bogart, Stephanie L; Pruetz, Jill D

    2011-05-01

    Little is known about the behavior of chimpanzees living in savanna-woodlands, although they are of particular interest to anthropologists for the insight they can provide regarding the ecological pressures affecting early hominins living in similar habitats. Fongoli, Senegal, is the first site where savanna chimpanzees have been habituated for observational data collection and is the hottest and driest site where such observation of chimpanzees occurs today. Previously, indirect evidence suggested these chimpanzees consumed termites throughout the year, an unusual occurrence for western and eastern chimpanzees. Although meat eating by chimpanzees continues to receive much attention, their use of invertebrate prey has received less emphasis in scenarios of hominin evolution. Here, we further examine the invertebrate diet of Fongoli chimpanzees using direct observational methods and accounting for potential environmental influences. Termite feeding positively correlated with high temperatures. Fongoli chimpanzees spend more time obtaining termites than any other chimpanzee population studied, and this extensive insectivory contributes to the list of distinctive behaviors they display relative to chimpanzees living in more forested habitats. We suggest that savanna chimpanzees at Fongoli differ significantly from chimpanzees elsewhere as a result of the selective pressures characterizing their harsh environment, and this contrast provides an example of a viable referential model for better understanding human evolution. Specifically, our results support the hypotheses that invertebrate prey may have figured more prominently into the diet of early hominins in similar habitats, especially given that invertebrates are an important source of protein and other essential nutrients in a highly seasonal environment. PMID:21484757

  9. Scale-dependent bi-trophic interactions in a semi-arid savanna: how herbivores eliminate benefits of nutrient patchiness to plants.

    PubMed

    van der Waal, Cornelis; de Kroon, Hans; van Langevelde, Frank; de Boer, Willem F; Heitkönig, Ignas M A; Slotow, Rob; Pretorius, Yolanda; Prins, Herbert H T

    2016-08-01

    The scale of resource heterogeneity may influence how resources are locally partitioned between co-existing large and small organisms such as trees and grasses in savannas. Scale-related plant responses may, in turn, influence herbivore use of the vegetation. To examine these scale-dependent bi-trophic interactions, we varied fertilizer [(nitrogen (N)/phosphorus (P)/potassium (K)] applications to patches to create different scales of nutrient patchiness (patch size 2 × 2 m, 10 × 10 m, or whole-plot 50 × 50 m) in a large field experiment in intact African savanna. Within-patch fertilizer concentration and the total fertilizer load per plot were independently varied. We found that fertilization increased the leaf N and P concentrations of trees and grasses, resulting in elevated utilization by browsers and grazers. Herbivory off-take was particularly considerable at higher nutrient concentrations. Scale-dependent effects were weak. The net effect of fertilization and herbivory was that plants in fertilized areas tended to grow less and develop smaller rather than larger standing biomass compared to plants growing in areas that remained unfertilized. When all of these effects were considered together at the community (plot) level, herbivory completely eliminated the positive effects of fertilization on the plant community. While this was true for all scales of fertilization, grasses tended to profit more from coarse-grained fertilization and trees from fine-grained fertilization. We conclude that in herbivore-dominated communities, such as the African savanna, nutrient patchiness results in the herbivore community profiting rather more than the plant community, irrespective of the scale of patchiness. At the community level, the allometric scaling theory's prediction of plant-and probably also animal-production does not hold or may even be reversed as a result of complex bi-trophic interactions. PMID:27094543

  10. Small-Scale Variation in Fuel Loads Differentially Affects Two Co-Dominant Bunchgrasses in a Species-Rich Pine Savanna

    PubMed Central

    Gagnon, Paul R.; Harms, Kyle E.; Platt, William J.; Passmore, Heather A.; Myers, Jonathan A.

    2012-01-01

    Ecological disturbances frequently control the occurrence and patterning of dominant plants in high-diversity communities like C4 grasslands and savannas. In such ecosystems disturbance-related processes can have important implications for species, and for whole communities when those species are dominant, yet mechanistic understanding of such processes remains fragmentary. Multiple bunchgrass species commonly co-dominate disturbance-dependent and species-rich pine savannas, where small-scale fuel heterogeneity may influence bunchgrass survival and growth following fires. We quantified how fire in locally varying fuel loads influenced dynamics of dominant C4 bunchgrasses in a species-rich pine savanna in southeastern Louisiana, USA. We focused on two congeneric, co-dominant species (Schizachyrium scoparium and S. tenerum) with similar growth forms, functional traits and reproductive strategies to highlight effects of fuel heterogeneity during fires. In experimental plots with either reduced or increased fuels versus controls with unmanipulated fuels, we compared: 1) bunchgrass damage and 2) mortality from fires; 3) subsequent growth and 4) flowering. Compared to controls, fire with increased fuels caused greater damage, mortality and subsequent flowering, but did not affect post-fire growth. Fire with reduced fuels had no effect on any of the four measures. The two species responded differently to fire with increased fuels – S. scoparium incurred measurably more damage and mortality than S. tenerum. Logistic regression indicated that the larger average size of S. tenerum tussocks made them resistant to more severe burning where fuels were increased. We speculate that locally increased fuel loading may be important in pine savannas for creating colonization sites because where fuels are light or moderate, dominant bunchgrasses persist through fires. Small-scale heterogeneity in fires, and differences in how species tolerate fire may together promote shared local

  11. Small-scale variation in fuel loads differentially affects two co-dominant bunchgrasses in a species-rich pine savanna.

    PubMed

    Gagnon, Paul R; Harms, Kyle E; Platt, William J; Passmore, Heather A; Myers, Jonathan A

    2012-01-01

    Ecological disturbances frequently control the occurrence and patterning of dominant plants in high-diversity communities like C(4) grasslands and savannas. In such ecosystems disturbance-related processes can have important implications for species, and for whole communities when those species are dominant, yet mechanistic understanding of such processes remains fragmentary. Multiple bunchgrass species commonly co-dominate disturbance-dependent and species-rich pine savannas, where small-scale fuel heterogeneity may influence bunchgrass survival and growth following fires. We quantified how fire in locally varying fuel loads influenced dynamics of dominant C(4) bunchgrasses in a species-rich pine savanna in southeastern Louisiana, USA. We focused on two congeneric, co-dominant species (Schizachyrium scoparium and S. tenerum) with similar growth forms, functional traits and reproductive strategies to highlight effects of fuel heterogeneity during fires. In experimental plots with either reduced or increased fuels versus controls with unmanipulated fuels, we compared: 1) bunchgrass damage and 2) mortality from fires; 3) subsequent growth and 4) flowering. Compared to controls, fire with increased fuels caused greater damage, mortality and subsequent flowering, but did not affect post-fire growth. Fire with reduced fuels had no effect on any of the four measures. The two species responded differently to fire with increased fuels--S. scoparium incurred measurably more damage and mortality than S. tenerum. Logistic regression indicated that the larger average size of S. tenerum tussocks made them resistant to more severe burning where fuels were increased. We speculate that locally increased fuel loading may be important in pine savannas for creating colonization sites because where fuels are light or moderate, dominant bunchgrasses persist through fires. Small-scale heterogeneity in fires, and differences in how species tolerate fire may together promote shared local

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. Estimative of energy budget in Brazilian Savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2013-12-01

    The main goal of this work was to estimate the sensible (H) and latent (LE) heat flux using the eddy covariance method in a Cerrado "Campo Sujo" area, basically with herb-shrub physiognomy, sparse woody vegetation and approximately 2m height. The geographical position of the Cerrado, altitude, latitude, longitude, climate and weather conditions are determined by the dynamics of the atmosphere that affects the whole South America and consequently influence the ecological framework of ecosystems. The results shown by the components considered in the energy balance were more significant during the day, which the atmospheric boundary layer extends from the ground to about 50 or 100 meters height, showing greater instability and turbulence (u* > 0.2 m / s), and this turbulence is what justifies the use of the eddy covariance method to estimate the sensible and latent heat flux. The Cerrado presents seasonal difference between the densities estimates of sensible (H) and latent (LE) heat flux. During the rainy season the sensible heat flux (H) was 25% and the latent heat flux (LE) 54%. During the dry season the sensible heat flux (H) was 42% and the latent heat flux (LE) 30% of the energy budget.

  18. On the relative role of fire and rainfall in determining vegetation patterns in tropical savannas: a simulation study

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Spessa, Allan; Fisher, Rosie

    2010-05-01

    Tropical savannas cover 18% of the world's land surface and are amongst the most productive terrestrial systems in the world. They comprise 15% of the total terrestrial carbon stock, with an estimated mean net primary productivity (NPP) of 7.2 tCha-1yr-1 or two thirds of NPP in tropical forests. Tropical savannas are the most frequently burnt biome, with fire return intervals in highly productive areas being typically 1-2 years. Fires shape vegetation species composition, tree to grass ratios and nutrient redistribution, as well as the biosphere-atmosphere exchange of trace gases, momentum and radiative energy. Tropical savannas are a major source of emissions, contributing 38 % of total annual CO2 from biomass burning, 30% CO, 19 % CH4 and 59 % NOx. Climatically, they occur in regions subject to a strongly seasonal ‘wet-dry' regime, usually under monsoonal control from the movement of the inter-tropical convergence zone. In general, rainfall during the prior wet season(s) determines the amount of grass fuel available for burning while the length of the dry season influences fuel moisture content. Rainfall in tropical savannas exhibits high inter-annual variability, and under future climate change, is projected to change significantly in much of Africa, South America and northern Australia. Process-based simulation models of fire-vegetation dynamics and feedbacks are critical for determining the impacts of wildfires under projected future climate change on i) ecosystem structure and function, and ii) emissions of trace gases and aerosols from biomass burning. A new mechanistic global fire model SPITFIRE (SPread and InTensity of FIRE) has been designed to overcome many of the limitations in existing fire models set within Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs). SPITFIRE has been applied in coupled mode globally and southern Africa, both as part of the LPJ DGVM. It has also been driven with MODIS burnt area data applied to sub-Saharan Africa, while coupled to the

  19. 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.

  20. 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. PMID:23959345

  1. 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.

  2. Structural, physiognomic and aboveground biomass variation in savanna-forest transition zones on three continents. How different are co-occurring savanna and forest formations?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Veenendaal, E. M.; Torello-Raventos, M.; Feldpausch, T. R.; Domingues, T. F.; Gerard, F.; Schrodt, F.; Saiz, G.; Quesada, C. A.; Djagbletey, G.; Ford, A.; Kemp, J.; Marimon, B. S.; Marimon-Junior, B. H.; Lenza, E.; Ratter, J. A.; Maracahipes, L.; Sasaki, D.; Sonké, B.; Zapfack, L.; Villarroel, D.; Schwarz, M.; Yoko Ishida, F.; Gilpin, M.; Nardoto, G. B.; Affum-Baffoe, K.; Arroyo, L.; Bloomfield, K.; Ceca, G.; Compaore, H.; Davies, K.; Diallo, A.; Fyllas, N. M.; Gignoux, J.; Hien, F.; Johnson, M.; Mougin, E.; Hiernaux, P.; Killeen, T.; Metcalfe, D.; Miranda, H. S.; Steininger, M.; Sykora, K.; Bird, M. I.; Grace, J.; Lewis, S.; Phillips, O. L.; Lloyd, J.

    2014-03-01

    Through interpretations of remote sensing data and/or theoretical propositions, the idea that forest and savanna represent "alternative stable states" is gaining increasing acceptance. Filling an observational gap, we present detailed stratified floristic and structural analyses for forest and savanna stands mostly located within zones of transition (where both vegetation types occur in close proximity) in Africa, South America and Australia. Woody plant leaf area index variation was related in a similar way to tree canopy cover for both savanna and forest with substantial overlap between the two vegetation types. As total woody plant canopy cover increased, so did the contribution of middle and lower strata of woody vegetation to this total. Herbaceous layer cover also declined as woody cover increased. This pattern of understorey grasses and herbs being progressively replaced by shrubs as canopy closure occurs was found for both savanna and forests and on all continents. Thus, once subordinate woody canopy layers are taken into account, a less marked transition in woody plant cover across the savanna-forest species discontinuum is observed compared to that implied when trees of a basal diameter > 0.1m are considered in isolation. This is especially the case for shrub-dominated savannas and in taller savannas approaching canopy closure. An increased contribution of forest species to the total subordinate cover is also observed as savanna stand canopy closure occurs. Despite similarities in canopy cover characteristics, woody vegetation in Africa and Australia attained greater heights and stored a greater concentration of above ground biomass than in South America. Up to three times as much aboveground biomass is stored in forests compared to savannas under equivalent climatic conditions. Savanna/forest transition zones were also found to typically occur at higher precipitation regimes for South America than for Africa. Nevertheless, coexistence was found to be

  3. 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.

  4. 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. PMID:19921271

  5. Monitoring Contrasting Land Management in the Savanna Landscapes of Northern Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Franklin, Donald C.; Petty, Aaron M.; Williamson, Grant J.; Brook, Barry W.; Bowman, David M. J. S.

    2008-04-01

    We compared measures of ecosystem state across six adjacent land-tenure groups in the intact tropical savanna landscapes of northern Australia. Tenure groups include two managed by Aboriginal owners, two national parks, a cluster of pastoral leases, and a military training area. This information is of relevance to the debate about the role of indigenous lands in the Australian conservation estate. The timing and frequency of fire was determined by satellite imagery; the biomass and composition of the herb-layer and the abundance of large feral herbivores by field surveys; and weediness by analysis of a Herbarium database. European tenures varied greatly in fire frequencies but were consistently burnt earlier in the dry season than the two Aboriginal tenures, the latter having intermediate fire frequencies. Weeds were more frequent in the European tenures, whilst feral animals were most abundant in the Aboriginal tenures. This variation strongly implies a signature of current management and/or recent environmental history. We identify indices suitable for monitoring of management outcomes in an extensive and sparsely populated landscape. Aboriginal land offers a unique opportunity for the conservation of biodiversity through the maintenance of traditional fire regimes. However, without financial support, traditional practices may prove unsustainable both economically and because exotic weeds and feral animals will alter fire regimes. An additional return on investment in Aboriginal land management is likely to be improved livelihoods and health outcomes for these disadvantaged communities.

  6. Changes in Regional Nitric Oxide Emissions from Savanna Soils Associated with Woody Encroachment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Martin, R. E.; Asner, G. P.

    2002-12-01

    Mesquite has been rapidly increasing over the past 100 years resulting in documented changes to the biophysical and biogeochemical structure of savanna ecosystems world-wide. Some of these changes include increases in plant and soil C and N stores and cycling rates as well as isotopic shifts in these pools (Archer et al. 2001, Boutton et al. 1998, Hibbard et al.2001). However, there is no information about the impacts of woody encroachment on soil N oxides emissions. The objective of this study is to determine that remotely sensed variables of vegetation, soil type, and climate alone can be used to estimate N oxide emissions. N oxide fluxes and related parameters were measured at nine study sites across a range of woody canopy cover on two soil types. Spatially, woody canopy cover was the best predictor of NO emissions while temporally temperature was the dominant control given adequate soil moisture. Through linking these biogeochemical relationships with spatially explicit data derived from remote sensing data it is possible to extend these plot-scale measurements to the landscape and regional scales. This method allows better determination of the spatial distribution of N oxide emissions and associated variability.

  7. 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).

  8. 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…

  9. Ecosystem Journalism

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Robertson, Amy; Mahlin, Kathryn

    2005-01-01

    If the organisms in a prairie ecosystem created a newspaper, what would it look like? What important news topics of the ecosystem would the organisms want to discuss? Imaginative and enthusiastic third-grade students were busy pondering these questions as they tried their hands at "ecosystem journalism." The class had recently completed a study of…

  10. 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.

  11. Trace Gas Emissions From Tropical North Australian Savanna Fires

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Paton-Walsh, C.; Deutscher, N. M.; Griffith, D. W.; Wilson, S. R.; Jones, N. B.; Forgan, B.

    2008-12-01

    We present measurements of atmospheric trace gases within smoke plumes from tropical North Australian savanna fires. The remote sensing measurements are made from Darwin (12.4°S, 130.9°E) using Fourier Transform spectroscopy with the sun as the source. From these infrared spectra column amounts of carbon monoxide (CO), formaldehyde (H2CO), acetylene (C2H2), ethane (C2H6) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) have been determined. Literature esimates of emission factors for CO are then used to infer emission factors for these other gases.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. Modelling fire frequency in a Cerrado savanna protected area.

    PubMed

    Pereira Júnior, Alfredo C; Oliveira, Sofia L J; Pereira, José M C; Turkman, Maria Antónia Amaral

    2014-01-01

    Covering almost a quarter of Brazil, the Cerrado is the world's most biologically rich tropical savanna. Fire is an integral part of the Cerrado but current land use and agricultural practices have been changing fire regimes, with undesirable consequences for the preservation of biodiversity. In this study, fire frequency and fire return intervals were modelled over a 12-year time series (1997-2008) for the Jalapão State Park, a protected area in the north of the Cerrado, based on burned area maps derived from Landsat imagery. Burned areas were classified using object based image analysis. Fire data were modelled with the discrete lognormal model and the estimated parameters were used to calculate fire interval, fire survival and hazard of burning distributions, for seven major land cover types. Over the study period, an area equivalent to four times the size of Jalapão State Park burned and the mean annual area burned was 34%. Median fire intervals were generally short, ranging from three to six years. Shrub savannas had the shortest fire intervals, and dense woodlands the longest. Because fires in the Cerrado are strongly responsive to fuel age in the first three to four years following a fire, early dry season patch mosaic burning may be used to reduce the extent of area burned and the severity of fire effects. PMID:25054540

  19. 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.

  20. 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

  1. [Anatomical and nutrient features of plant leaves in Yuanjiang savanna valley].

    PubMed

    Song, Fuqiang; Cao, Kunfang

    2005-01-01

    Due to rain shadow effect, the valleys in southwestern China mountainous areas have hot and dry climate, and savanna or semi-savanna vegetations occur on the slopes of these valleys. Yuanjiang dry-hot valley is such a valley, which has a distinct dry season of about six months from November to next April. This paper studied the anatomical and nutrient features of the leaves of twenty plant species, including those on upland soils and hilly slopes. The results showed that compared with the species on upland soil and the rain forest, the leaves of the plants from savanna showed more xeromorphic features, such as thicker leaf thickness, greater leaf mass per area (LMA), smaller ratios of spongy/palisade tissues (S:P) and higher stomatal density (SD), which mainly came from the more severe drought in Yuanjiang savanna valley. Seven plant species in the savanna valley showed a shortage of nutrients in their leaves, and the leaf nutrient content was in order of 1.3% > Ca > N > K > 1% > Mg > P > S. Savanna had lower leaf mineral element concentrations than rain forest, but higher than other dry forests, including Asian heath forest and Bana forest. The differences in leaf nutrient concentrations between Yuanjiang valley savanna and other dry forests were mainly ascribed to the difference of soil nutrient contents, while those between valley savanna and rainforest were largely determined by the different plant biology. It could be concluded that the leaves of plant species in Yuanjiang savanna valley not only had obvious xeromorphic features, but also were deficit in nutrients. PMID:15852953

  2. 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.

  3. Changes in ecosystem structure related to the type and extent of woody cover alter carbon dynamics and surface energy exchange in central Texas ecosystems.

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2006-12-01

    Rangeland ecosystems account for almost two thirds the total land area in Texas. Over the past century, heavy livestock grazing and fire suppression coupled with changes in climate have facilitated the expansion of woody species into rangelands throughout the state. Based in part on the assumption that woody species use more water than their herbaceous counterparts, land managers have used a variety of techniques to reduce tree and shrub abundance to combat the loss of forage for cattle. As a result, the structure of rangelands in Texas is complex, characterized by woody vegetation that is patchy in distribution, and continually changing between grassland, savanna and woodland. Despite the large areal extent of Texas rangelands, very little is known about how the observed changes in ecosystem structure impact carbon cycle dynamics and surface energy exchange. To reduce these uncertainties, we explored explicit relationships between structure and function in these ecosystems by comparing tower-based measurements of carbon and water vapor exchange made simultaneously from July 2004-Dec 2005 across three representative land covers in central Texas: open grassland, savanna with 30% Ashe juniper and honey mesquite cover, and closed canopy woodland. Here we report our findings on what impact the type and pattern of woody plant cover has on biological controls and patterns of carbon sequestration, evapotranspiration, and sensitivity to precipitation pulses. Monthly measurements of leaf level gas exchange, soil respiration rates, herbaceous net ecosystem exchange, and sap flow measurements on dominant woody species were used to augment eddy covariance estimates of ecosystem-atmosphere exchange. The addition of woody species significantly increased carbon sequestration in these ecosystems. Net ecosystem production from July 05-Jun 05 in the grassland, savanna and forest ecosystems was -14 g C m-2, -413 g C m-2, -450 g C m-2, respectively. Evapotranspiration was less

  4. Developing Remote Sensing Methodology to Characterize Savanna Vegetation Structure and Composition for Rangeland Monitoring and Conservation Applications

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tsalyuk, M.; Kelly, M.; Getz, W.

    2012-12-01

    Rangeland ecosystems cover more than fifty percent of earth's land surface, host considerable biodiversity and provide vital ecosystem services. However, rangelands around the world face degradation due to climate change, land use change and overgrazing. Human-driven changes to fire and grazing regimes enhance degradation processes. The purpose of this research is to develop a remote sensing methodology to characterize the structure and composition of savanna vegetation, in order to improve the ability of conservation managers to monitor and address such degradation processes. Our study site, Etosha National Park, is a 22,270 km^2 semi-arid savanna located in north-central Namibia. Fencing and provision of artificial water sources for wildlife have changed the natural grazing patterns, which has caused bush encroachment and vegetation degradation across the park. We used MODIS and Landsat ETM+ 7 satellite imagery to map the vegetation type, dominant species, density, cover and biomass of herbaceous and woody vegetation in Etosha. We used imagery for 2007-2012 together with extensive field sampling, both in the wet and the dry seasons. At each sampling point, we identified the dominant species and measured the density, canopy size, height and diameter of the trees and shrubs. At only 31% of the sampling points, the identified vegetation type matched the class assigned at the 1996 classification. This may indicate significant habitat modifications in Etosha. We used two parallel analytical approaches to correlate between radiometric and field data. First, we show that traditional supervised classification identifies well five classes: bare soil, grassland, steppe, shrub savanna and tree savanna. We then refined this classification to enable us to identify the species composition in an area utilizing the phenological differences in timing and duration of greenness of the dominant tree and shrub species in Etosha. Specifically, using multi-date images we were able to

  5. Histochemical enzyme variation in Onchocerca volvulus microfilariae from rain-forest and Sudan-savanna areas of the Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa

    PubMed Central

    Omar, M. S.; Prost, A.; Marshall, T. F. de C.

    1982-01-01

    Histochemical staining methods for acid phosphatase were used to study the differences among microfilariae of various West African strains of Onchocerca volvulus in both forest and Sudan-savanna onchocerciasis zones. The results have shown statistically significant differences in the staining patterns of microfilarial populations in the two zones. In the rain-forest areas, where onchocerciasis is transmitted by Simulium yahense, S. sanctipauli, S. soubrense and S. squamosum, there were no significant differences of microfilarial staining patterns in patients, by age and sex, between the three Simulium—Onchocerca complexes studied. There was a close relationship between the “strain differences”, as revealed morphoenzymatically, and the clinical picture of the disease in both the forest and the Sudan-savanna zones. The present findings are in favour of the hypothesis that there are intrinsic differences in the strains of the parasite occurring in the two areas. The application of the histochemical means of parasite characterization appears to be a useful tool in differentiating strains of O. volvulus and could contribute towards a better understanding of the epidemiology of human onchocerciasis in different bioclimatic zones where the disease is endemic. ImagesPlate 1 PMID:6186410

  6. Reflectance properties of West African savanna trees from ground radiometer measurements. II - Classification of components

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Hanan, N. P.; Prince, S. D.; Franklin, J.

    1993-01-01

    A pole-mounted radiometer was used to measure the reflectance properties in the red and near-IR of three Sahelian tree species. These properties are classified depending on their location over the canopy. A geometrical description of the patterns of shadow and sunlight on and beneath a model tree when viewed from above is given, and six components are defined. Tree canopies are found to be dark in the red waveband with respect to the soil, but have little or no effect on the near-IR.

  7. 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

  8. 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...

  9. MANAGEMENT OF HERBACEOUS SEEPS AND WET SAVANNAS FOR THREATENED AND ENDANGERED SPECIES

    EPA Science Inventory

    Wetland communities such as herbaceous seeps and wet savannas occur on military installations throughout the southeastern United States, usually as pockets of wet habitat within a matrix of drier longleaf pine woodlands. This larger community supports multiple uses, including the...

  10. 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.

  11. Trace gas emissions from savanna fires in northern Australia

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Paton-Walsh, C.; Deutscher, N. M.; Griffith, D. W. T.; Forgan, B. W.; Wilson, S. R.; Jones, N. B.; Edwards, D. P.

    2010-08-01

    We present analyses of near-infrared ground-based Fourier transform infrared solar absorption spectra recorded from a site in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia (12.4°S, 130.9°E) from August 2005 to June 2008. Total column amounts of carbon monoxide derived from these spectra show a very clear annual cycle, with evidence of transported pollution from Indonesian fires in 2006. Aerosol optical depth measurements from the same site show a similar annual cycle but without exceptional values in 2006, suggesting significant loss of aerosol loading in the transported and aged smoke. In addition, we report the first ever measurements by remote sensing solar Fourier transform infrared of emission ratios with respect to carbon monoxide for formaldehyde (0.022 ± 0.007), acetylene (0.0024 ± 0.0003), ethane (0.0020 ± 0.0003), and hydrogen cyanide (0.0018 ± 0.0003) from Australian savanna fires. These are derived from mid-infrared spectra recorded through smoke plumes over Darwin on 20 separate days. The only previous measurements of emission ratios for formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide from Australian savanna fires involved cryogenic trapping and storage of samples that were gathered in very fresh smoke. The results reported here are nearly an order of magnitude higher (but in agreement with laboratory studies), suggesting losses in the collection, storage, or transfer of the gases in the earlier measurements and/or chemical production of these reactive gases within the smoke plumes. Emission ratios for acetylene and ethane from this work are in broad agreement with other literature values.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. Spatial variation in vegetation structure coupled to plant available water determined by two-dimensional soil resistivity profiling in a Brazilian savanna.

    PubMed

    Ferreira, Joice N; Bustamante, Mercedes; Garcia-Montiel, Diana C; Caylor, Kelly K; Davidson, Eric A

    2007-08-01

    Tropical savannas commonly exhibit large spatial heterogeneity in vegetation structure. Fine-scale patterns of soil moisture, particularly in the deeper soil layers, have not been well investigated as factors possibly influencing vegetation patterns in savannas. Here we investigate the role of soil water availability and heterogeneity related to vegetation structure in an area of the Brazilian savanna (Cerrado). Our objective was to determine whether horizontal spatial variations of soil water are coupled with patterns of vegetation structure across tens of meters. We applied a novel methodological approach to convert soil electrical resistivity measurements along three 275-m transects to volumetric water content and then to estimates of plant available water (PAW). Structural attributes of the woody vegetation, including plant position, height, basal circumference, crown dimensions, and leaf area index, were surveyed within twenty-two 100-m(2) plots along the same transects, where no obvious vegetation gradients had been apparent. Spatial heterogeneity was evaluated through measurements of spatial autocorrelation in both PAW and vegetation structure. Comparisons with null models suggest that plants were randomly distributed over the transect with the greatest mean PAW and lowest PAW heterogeneity, and clustered in the driest and most heterogeneous transect. Plant density was positively related with PAW in the top 4 m of soil. The density-dependent vegetation attributes that are related to plot biomass, such as sum of tree heights per plot, exhibited spatial variation patterns that were remarkably similar to spatial variation of PAW in the top 4 m of soil. For PAW below 4 m depth, mean vegetation attributes, such as mean height, were negatively correlated with PAW, suggesting greater water uptake from the deep soil by plants of larger stature. These results are consistent with PAW heterogeneity being an important structuring factor in the plant distribution at the

  16. Are There Consistent Grazing Indicators in Drylands? Testing Plant Functional Types of Various Complexity in South Africa’s Grassland and Savanna Biomes

    PubMed Central

    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

  17. Hydraulic lift as a determinant of tree-grass coexistence on savannas.

    PubMed

    Yu, Kailiang; D'Odorico, Paolo

    2015-09-01

    The coexistence of woody plants and grasses in savannas is determined by a complex set of interacting factors that determine access to resources and demographic dynamics, under the control of external drivers and vegetation feedbacks with the physical environment. Existing theories explain coexistence mainly as an effect of competitive relations and/or disturbances. However, theoretical studies on the way facilitative interactions resulting from hydraulic lift affect tree-grass coexistence and the range of environmental conditions in which savannas are stable are still lacking. We investigated the role of hydraulic lift in the stability of tree-grass coexistence in savannas. To that end, we developed a new mechanistic model that accounts for both competition for soil water in the shallow soil and fire-induced disturbance. We found that hydraulic lift favors grasses, which scavenge the water lifted by woody plants. Thus, hydraulic lift expands (at the expenses of woodlands) the range of environmental conditions in which savannas are stable. These results indicate that hydraulic lift can be an important mechanism responsible for the coexistence of woody plants and grasses in savannas. Grass facilitation by trees through the process of hydraulic lift could allow savannas to persist stably in mesic regions that would otherwise exhibit a forest cover. PMID:25925655

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. Seasonality of Overstory and Understory Fluxes in a Semi-Arid Oak Savanna: What can be Learned from Comparing Measured and Modeled Fluxes?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Raz-Yaseef, N.; Sonnentag, O.; Kobayashi, H.; Chen, J. M.; Verfaillie, J. G.; Ma, S.; Baldocchi, D. D.

    2011-12-01

    Semi-arid climates experience large seasonal and inter-annual variability in radiation and precipitation, creating natural conditions adequate to study how year-to-year changes affect atmosphere-biosphere fluxes. Especially, savanna ecosystems, that combine tree and below-canopy components, create a unique environment in which phenology dramatically changes between seasons. We used a 10-year flux database in order to define seasonal and interannual variability of climatic inputs and fluxes, and evaluate model capability to reproduce observed variability. This is based on the perception that model capability to construct the deviation, and not the average, is important in order to correctly predict ecosystem sensitivity to climate change. Our research site is a low density and low LAI (0.8) semi-arid savanna, located at Tonzi Ranch, Northern California. In this system, trees are active during the warm season (Mar - Oct), and grasses are active during the wet season (Dec - May). Measurements of carbon and water fluxes above and below the tree canopy using eddy covariance and supplementary measurements have been made since 2001. Fluxes were simulated using bio-meteorological process-oriented ecosystem models: BEPS and 3D-CAONAK. Models were partly capable of reproducing fluxes on daily scales (R2=0.66). We then compared model outputs for different ecosystem components and seasons, and found distinct seasons with high correlations while other seasons were purely represented. Comparison was much higher for ET than for GPP. The understory was better simulated than the overstory. CANOAK overestimated spring understory fluxes, probably due to the capability to directly calculated 3D radiative transfer. BEPS underestimated spring understory fluxes, following the pre-description of grass die-off. Both models underestimated peak spring overstory fluxes. During winter tree dormant, modeled fluxes were null, but occasional high fluxes of both ET and GPP were measured following

  1. [Ecological regulation services of Hainan Island ecosystem and their valuation].

    PubMed

    Ouyang, Zhiyun; Zhao, Tongqian; Zhao, Jingzhu; Xiao, Han; Wang, Xiaoke

    2004-08-01

    Ecosystem services imply the natural environmental conditions on which human life relies for existence, and their effectiveness formed and sustained by ecosystem and its ecological processes. In newly research reports, they were divided into four groups, i. e., provisioning services, regulation services, cultural services, and supporting services. To assess and valuate ecosystem services is the foundation of regional environmental reserve and development. Taking Hainan Island as an example and based on the structure and processes of natural ecosystem, this paper discussed the proper methods for regulation services assessment. The ecosystems were classified into 13 types including valley rain forest, mountainous rain forest, tropical monsoon forest, mountainous coppice forest, mountainous evergreen forest, tropical coniferous forest, shrubs, plantation, timber forest, windbreak forest, mangrove, savanna, and cropland, and then, the regulation services and their economic values of Hainan Island ecosystem were assessed and evaluated by terms of water-holding, soil conservancy, nutrient cycle, C fixation, and windbreak function. The economic value of the regulation services of Hainan Island ecosystem was estimated as 2035.88 x 10(8)-2153.39 x 10(8) RMB yuan, 8 times higher to its provisioning services (wood and agricultural products) which were estimated as only 254.06 x 10(8) RMB yuan. The result implied that ecosystem regulation services played an even more important role in the sustainable development of society and economy in Hainan Island. PMID:15573995

  2. 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…

  3. Spatial Heterogeneity of Fine Root Biomass and Soil Carbon in a California Oak Savanna Illuminates Plant Functional Strategy Across Periods of High and Low Resource Supply

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

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

    2014-12-01

    We sampled isolated trees and tree clusters from a blue oak, Quercus douglasii, savanna in California USA to determine the spatial heterogeneity of fine root biomass and soil carbon across the landscape as a function of tree size, age and configuration. Our goal was to understand how fine root structure enables sustained ecosystem metabolism through a summer of very limited moisture availability and high heat, and facilitates resource acquisition during the short spring period of high resource supply. An additional goal was to provide a basis for upscaling root biomass and soil carbon to the landscape scale. We sampled trees of different size and tree clusters via a stratified sampling scheme that accounted for spatial heterogeneity in root biomass and soil carbon with lateral distance from the tree bole, or cluster center, and soil depth. We upscaled these estimates using site-specific information from a lidar survey conducted in the same region over a 36 ha area in 2009. We found that fine roots and soil carbon are spatially heterogeneous in their landscape distribution in oak savanna habitat, and that they greatly increase with tree size and age. We also found that Q. douglasii possesses a dimorphic fine root architecture, uniquely suited to the region's climatic constraints, and exhibits morphological plasticity among trees of different size, age, and physical setting.

  4. 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

  5. Resource-use efficiency explains grassy weed invasion in a low-resource savanna in north Australia.

    PubMed

    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 (15)N 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

  6. 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

  7. 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…

  8. Methane emissions from northern Amazon savanna wetlands and Balbina Reservoir

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kemenes, A.; Belger, L.; Forsberg, B.; Melack, J. M.

    2006-12-01

    To improve estimates of methane emission for the Amazon basin requires information from aquatic environments not represented in the central basin near the Solimoes River, where most of the current data were obtained. We have combined intensive, year-long measurements of methane emission and water levels made in interfluvial wetlands located in the upper Negro basin with calculations of inundation based on a time series of Radarsat synthetic aperature radar images. These grass-dominated savannas emitted methane at an average rate of 18 mg C per m squared per day, a low rate compared to the habitats with floating grasses the occur in the Solimoes floodplains. Reservoirs constructed in the Amazon typically flood forested landscapes and lead to conditions conducive for methane production. The methane is released to the atmosphere from the reservoir and as the water exits the turbines and from the downstream river. Balbina Reservoir near Manaus covers about 2400 km squared along the Uatuma River. Annual averages of measurements of methane emission from the various habitats in the reservoir range from 23 to 64 mg C per m squared per day. Total annual emission from the reservoir is about 58 Gg C. In addition, about 39 Gg C per year are released below the dam, about 50 percent of which is released as the water passes through the turbines. On an annual areal basis, Balbina Reservoir emits 40 Mg C km squared, in contrast to 30 Mg km squared for the Solimoes mainstem floodplain

  9. 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. PMID:27254453

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. PARTITIONING OVERSTORY AND UNDERSTORY EVAPOTRANSPIRATION IN A SEMIARID SAVANNA WOODLAND FROM THE ISOTOPIC COMPOSITION OF WATER VAPOR 1498

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    The relative contributions of overstory and understory plant transpiration and soil evaporation to total evapotranspiration (ET) in a semiarid savanna woodland were determined from stable isotope measurements of atmospheric water vapor. The savanna overstory was dominated by the deeply rooted, wood...

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Range Ecosystems

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    After more than two hundred years, grazing remains California’s most extensive land use. The ‘Range Ecosystems’ chapter in the ‘Ecosystems of California’ sourcebook provides an integrated picture of the biophysical, social, and economic aspects of lands grazed by livestock in the state. Grazing mana...

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Ocular onchocerciasis and intensity of infection in the community. II. West African rainforest foci of the vector Simulium yahense.

    PubMed

    Dadzie, K Y; Remme, J; Rolland, A; Thylefors, B

    1989-09-01

    A novel method of analysis was used to describe community patterns of ocular onchocerciasis in relation to the intensity of infection in West African forest villages where S. yahense is the sole vector. The pattern is completely different from that found in the savanna, even after correction for the intensity of infection as measured by the Community Microfilarial Load (CMFL). Lesions of the anterior segment of the eye as well as onchocercal blindness either do not occur or occur only sporadically with increasing CMFL in the Yahense forest whilst a steep linear relation exists between the prevalence of these lesions and the CMFL in the savanna. Lesions of the posterior segment of the eye are also less common in the Yahense forest. For a given skin microfilarial load, the ocular microfilarial load is lower in the Yahense forest. For a given ocular microfilarial load, a lower prevalence of eye lesions is found in the Yahense forest compared to the savanna. It is concluded that microfilariae of Onchocerca volvulus in the Yahense forest are less eye invasive than microfilariae from the savanna. Furthermore, they appear to be also less pathogenic to the eye. These findings explain why ocular onchocerciasis is relatively mild in the Yahense forest, in spite of the high intensities of O. volvulus infection in the community. PMID:2559472

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  1. Rapid Leaf Deployment Strategies in a Deciduous Savanna.

    PubMed

    February, Edmund Carl; Higgins, Steven Ian

    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

  2. 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

  3. Obesity and African Americans

    MedlinePlus

    ... Data > Minority Population Profiles > Black/African American > Obesity Obesity and African Americans African American women have the ... ss6304.pdf [PDF | 3.38MB] HEALTH IMPACT OF OBESITY More than 80 percent of people with type ...

  4. 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. PMID:27267722

  5. Spatial variation of the stable nitrogen isotope ratio of woody plants along a topoedaphic gradient in a subtropical savanna.

    PubMed

    Bai, Edith; Boutton, Thomas W; Liu, Feng; Wu, X Ben; Archer, Steven R; Hallmark, C Thomas

    2009-03-01

    Variation in the stable N isotope ratio (delta15N) of plants and soils often reflects the influence of environment on the N cycle. We measured leaf delta15N and N concentration ([N]) on all individuals of Prosopis glandulosa (deciduous tree legume), Condalia hookeri (evergreen shrub), and Zanthoxylum fagara (evergreen shrub) present within a belt transect 308 m long x 12 m wide in a subtropical savanna ecosystem in southern Texas, USA in April and August 2005. Soil texture, gravimetric water content (GWC), total N and delta15N were also measured along the transect. At the landscape scale, leaf delta15N was negatively related to elevation for all the three species along this topoedaphic sequence. Changes in soil delta15N, total N, and GWC appeared to contribute to this spatial pattern of leaf delta15N. In lower portions of the landscape, greater soil N availability and GWC are associated with relatively high rates of both N mineralization and nitrification. Both soil delta15N and leaf [N] were positively correlated with leaf delta15N of non-N2 fixing plants. Leaf delta15N of P. glandulosa, an N2-fixing legume, did not correlate with leaf [N]; the delta15N of P. glandulosa's leaves were closer to atmospheric N2 and significantly lower than those of C. hookeri and Z. fagara. Additionally, at smaller spatial scales, a proximity index (which reflected the density and distance of surrounding P. glandulosa trees) was negatively correlated with leaf delta15N of C. hookeri and Z. fagara, indicating the N2-fixing P. glandulosa may be important to the N nutrition of nearby non-N2-fixing species. Our results indicate plant 15N natural abundance can reflect the extent of N retention and help us better understand N dynamics and plant-soil interactions at ecosystem and landscape scales. PMID:19085012

  6. 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

  7. 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. PMID:25846634

  8. 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.

  9. 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...

  10. Comparisons of savanna functioning, phenology, and disturbance in Brazil and Australia using MODIS and TRMM satellite data

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ratana, P.; Huete, A. R.; Ferreira, L. G.; Ma, X.; Restrepo-Coupe, N.

    2013-12-01

    The savanna biome is comprised of complex vegetation structures with multifunctional herbaceous (grass) and woody (tree- shrub) layers, each responding uniquely to different environmental controls. Globally, their rich biodiversity is under pressure from land conversion to crops, pastures, grazing activities, and fire. A better understanding of their vegetation functioning, seasonal dynamics and phenology, and responses to climate, disturbance, and management practices is needed. This study focuses on two contrasting tropical savanna regions; the Brazilian cerrado and the savanna biome in northern Australia. The cerrado has open to closed woodlands and is the most intensively converted (pastures), whereas the Australian savanna is relatively undisturbed and encompasses both wet and dry savanna classes along an ecological rainfall gradient. We investigated these environmental and management drivers on savanna class seasonal functioning patterns using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) vegetation index (VI) time series from 2000 to 2013 combined with rainfall data over the same time period from the Tropical Rainfall Monitoring Mission (TRMM). We found unique seasonal/ phenological vegetation response patterns with varying tree- grass ratios, rainfall seasonal distribution, and magnitude of land conversion and management. Temporal VI profiles of both regions depicted high seasonal contrasts in vegetation production over the pronounced dry and wet seasons, and seasonal amplitude variations varied negatively with the presence and extent of woody tree cover. We found pronounced shifts in seasonal/ phenology patterns in both Brazilian cerrado and Australian savanna induced by land conversion. Lastly, sensitivity to climate variability was greatest in the areas dominated with low tree-grass ratios.

  11. 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...

  12. 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)

  13. 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 ...

  14. Fire controls population structure in four dominant tree species in a tropical savanna.

    PubMed

    Lehmann, Caroline E R; Prior, Lynda D; Bowman, David M J S

    2009-09-01

    The persistence of mesic savannas has been theorised as being dependent on disturbances that restrict the number of juveniles growing through the sapling size class to become fire-tolerant trees. We analysed the population structures of four dominant tropical savanna tree species from 30 locations in Kakadu National Park (KNP), northern Australia. We found that across KNP as a whole, the population size structures of these species do not exhibit recruitment bottlenecks. However, individual stands had multimodal size-class distributions and mixtures of tree species consistent with episodic and individualistic recruitment of co-occurring tree species. Using information theory and multimodel inference, we examined the relative importance of fire frequency, stand basal area and elevation difference between a site and permanent water in explaining variations in the proportion of sapling to adult stems in four dominant tree species. This showed that the proportion of the tree population made up of saplings was negatively related to both fire frequencies and stand basal area. Overall, fire frequency has density-dependent effects in the regulation of the transition of saplings to trees in this Australian savanna, due to interactions with stem size, regeneration strategies, growth rates and tree-tree competition. Although stable at the regional scale, the spatiotemporal variability of fire can result in structural and floristic diversity of savanna tree populations. PMID:19629532

  15. Spatial-temporal distribution of fire-protected savanna physiognomies in Southeastern Brazil.

    PubMed

    Pinheiro, Marcelo H O; Azevedo, Thiago S de; Monteiro, Reinaldo

    2010-06-01

    The analysis of the influence of edaphic finer textures, as a facilitating factor for the expansion of forest formations in the absence of fire, was possible thanks to rare characteristics found in a savanna fragment located in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. The total suppression of fire for over four decades, and the occurrence of two savanna physiognomies, cerrado sensu stricto and cerradão, allowed the conduction of this study based on the hypothesis that cerradão, a physiognomy of forest aspect consisting of fire-sensitive tree and shrubs species, is favored by fire absence and higher soil hydric retention capacity. Edaphic samples were collected from a regular grid of 200 m(2) for the production of isopletic maps of the distribution of clay, fine sand, coarse sand and silt edaphic textures by the geostatistic method of ordinary kriging. Changes in the areas occupied by both savanna physiognomies, defined on the basis of aerial photographs taken over a period of 43 years, were assessed through mean variation rates. Besides corroborating the hypothesis of edaphic hydric retention as a facilitating factor for the expansion of forest physiognomies in savanna areas, we were able to infer the positive influence of higher precipitation on the increase in cerradão expansion rates. PMID:20563419

  16. 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...

  17. 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...

  18. 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

  19. Stability of elemental carbon in a savanna soil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bird, M. I.; Moyo, C.; Veenendaal, E. M.; Lloyd, J.; Frost, P.

    1999-12-01

    We have investigated the stability of oxidation-resistant elemental carbon (OREC) in a sandy savanna soil at the Matopos fire trial site, Zimbabwe. The protection of some soil plots from fire for the last 50 years at this site has enabled a comparison of OREC abundances between those plots which have been protected from fire and plots which have continued to be burnt. The total 0-5 cm OREC inventory of the soil protected from fire is estimated to be 2.0±0.5 mg cm-2; approximately half the "natural" OREC inventory at the study site of 3.8±0.5 mg cm-2 (the mean for plots burnt every 1-5 years). The associated half-life for natural OREC loss from the 0-5 cm interval of the protected plots is calculated to be <100 years, with the half-life for large carbonized particles (>2000 μm) in the soil being considerably <50 years. These results suggest that at least in well-aerated tropical soil environments, charcoal and OREC can be can be significantly degraded on decadal to centennial timescales. OREC abundance and carbon-isotope data suggest that OREC in coarse particles is progressively degraded into finer particle sizes, with a concomitant increase in resistance to oxidative degradation of OREC in the finer particle sizes due to the progressive loss of more readily degraded OREC. It remains unclear whether the OREC that is degraded is oxidized completely to CO2 and subsequently emitted from the soil, reduced to a sufficiently small particle size to be illuviated to deeper parts of the soil profile, solubilized and lost from the profile as dissolved organic carbon or transmuted into a chemical form which is susceptible to attack by the acid-dichromate reagent. The conclusion that a significant proportion of OREC can undergo natural degradation in well-aerated environments on decadal/centennial timescales suggests that only a fraction of the total production of OREC from biomass burning and fossil fuel combustion is likely to be sequestered in the slow

  20. 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.

  1. Ecosystem carbon fluxes and Amazonian forest metabolism

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Saleska, Scott; da Rocha, Humberto; Kruijt, Bart; Nobre, Antonio

    Long-term measurements of ecosystem-atmosphere exchanges of carbon, water, and energy, via eddy flux towers, give insight into three key questions about Amazonian forest function. First, what is the carbon balance of Amazon forests? Some towers give accurate site-specific carbon balances, as validated by independent methods, but decisive resolution of the large-scale question will also require integration of remote sensing techniques (to detect and encompass the distribution of naturally induced disturbance states across the landscape of old growth forests) with eddy flux process studies (to characterize the association between carbon balance and forest disturbance states). Second, what is the seasonality of ecosystem metabolism in Amazonian forests? Models have historically simulated dry season declines in photosynthetic metabolism, a consequence of modeled water limitation. Tower sites in equatorial Amazonian forests, however, show that photosynthetic metabolism increases during dry seasons ("green up"), perhaps because deep roots buffer trees from dry season water stress, while phenological rhythms trigger leaf flush, associated with increased solar irradiance. Third, how does ecosystem metabolism vary across biome types and land use patterns? As dry season length increases from equatorial forest, to drier southern forests, to savanna, fluxes show seasonal patterns consistent with increasing water stress, including a switch from dry season green up to "brown down." Land use change in forest ecosystems removes deep roots, artificially inducing the same trend toward brown down. In the final part, this review suggests that eddy tower network and satellite-based insights into seasonal responses provide a model for detecting responses to extreme interannual climate variations that can test whether forests are vulnerable to model-simulated Amazonian forest collapse under climate change.

  2. [Vaginal ecosystem].

    PubMed

    Kovachev, S

    2011-01-01

    Vaginal flora plays an important role in preventing genital and urinary tract infections in women. In fact every little movement of obligate and/or facultative vaginal micro flora over the normal limits for this ecosystem causes vaginal disbacteriosis. Vaginal disbacteriosis is a risk condition which can cause infection. Thus an accurate understanding of the composition and ecology of the ecosystem is important to understanding the etiology of urogenital diseases. The aim of this review is to update knowledge about vaginal micro biota, the Lactobacillus species that dominate normal vaginal flora and the way they suppressed infectivity and/or proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. A Medline (Pub med) and medical literature search from 1990-2010 for relevant articles was performed and the most informative articles were selected. Lactic acid bacteria determinate the most of defense mechanisms of women vagina by concurrent adhesion, producing lactic acid, antimicrobial products, hydrogen peroxide and by local interactions with the innate and cell-mediated immune systems and plasminogen-plasmin system. All this mechanisms promotes the stability of the normal vaginal micro flora. Every Lactobacillus species play a different role in host--defense vaginal system. The presence of different Lactobacillus species with the normal vaginal micro flora is a major determinant to the stability of this micro flora and for urogenital health. PMID:21916315

  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. 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…

  5. 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.

  6. Ecosystem carbon-water interactions of tropical pasture and afforestation

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wolf, S.; Eugster, W.; Buchmann, N.

    2010-12-01

    Despite the importance of tropical ecosystems for global carbon and water cycling, eddy covariance flux measurements in the tropics are still scarce and globally underrepresented within FLUXNET. In addition, previous studies have been predominantly conducted in tropical forests with only very few observations, often unpublished, from other tropical land-use types like pastures, croplands and savannas. As recently emphasized by global synthesis activities, C4 dominated ecosystems account for more than 20 % of terrestrial gross primary production (GPP) but represent less than 20 site-years of data within FLUXNET. Consequently, an expansion of observations for tropical C4 ecosystems is needed to understand their role in the global carbon and water cycling. We have performed comparative eddy covariance measurements of carbon dioxide and water vapour fluxes in a tropical pasture and an adjacent, young afforestation in Panama from 2007 to 2009. Our results show a larger intra-annual variability of CO2 and H2O fluxes at the pasture compared to the afforestation. In addition, the tropical pasture was more sensitive to water limitations and seasonal drought. Moreover, observed differences in water use efficiency (WUE) between both ecosystems tend to become smaller after the establishment phase of the afforestation. Our results highlight the role of land management on ecosystem carbon and water fluxes in the tropics. Implications of our results for further research and synthesis activities will be discussed.

  7. 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.

  8. ECOSYSTEM HEALTH: ENERGY INDICATORS

    EPA Science Inventory

    1. Ecosystem Health and Ecological Integrity
    2. Historical Background on Ecosystem Health
    3. Energy Systems Analysis, Health and Emergy
    4. Energy and Ecosystems
    5. Direct Measures of Ecosystem Health
    6. Indirect Measures of Ecosystem Health

  9. Evolutionary and comparative anatomical investigations of the autonomic cardiac nervous system in the African Cercopithecidae.

    PubMed

    Kawashima, Tomokazu; Akita, Keiichi; Sato, Kenji; Sasaki, Hiroshi

    2007-09-01

    The purpose of this study was to clarify the general architecture and morphological variations of the autonomic cardiac nervous system (ACNS) in the African Cercopithecidae (Old World monkeys), and to discuss the evolutionary changes between this system in African/Asian Cercopithecidae and humans. A detailed macroscopic comparative morphological investigation of the ACNS was performed by examining the left and right sides of 11 African cercopithecid specimens, including some previously unreported species (Abyssinian colobus, Angola pied colobus, Savanna monkey, and lesser white-nosed guenon). The common characteristics of the ACNS in the African Cercopithecidae are described in detail. Consequently, homologies of the ACNS between Asian (macaques) and African Cercopithecidae, and differences between the Asian/African Cercopithecidae and humans, were found. In particular, differences in the sympathetic (cardiac) systems of the Cercopithecidae and humans were recognized, despite the similar morphology of the parasympathetic vagal (cardiac) system. These differences include the composition of the cervicothoracic ganglion, the lower positions of the middle cervical and cervicothoracic ganglia, and the narrow range for the origin of the cardiac nerves in the Cercopithecidae, compared with that in humans. In conclusion, these findings are considered with regard to the morphology of the last common ancestors of the Cercopithecidae. PMID:17591730

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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. PMID:10991899

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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 intermediate distances (10-30 cm). The spatial signature of competitive effects changed with time since fire; peak effects moved successively away from the target plant. Our results suggest that inferred competition kernels of long-lived plant populations may have shapes that differ from exponential or sigmoidal decreases. More generally, results underline that competition among neighbouring plants is dynamic. Studies that address density-dependent and density-independent (fire-related) population dynamics of perennial grasses in their fire-prone environment may thus shed new light on the functioning and production of grasslands. PMID:25790804

  16. Patterns of Woody Growth for Brazilian Savanna (Cerrado) Trees in the Cuiaba Basin and Pantanal of Mato Grosso, Brazil

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Zappia, A. J.; Vourlitis, G. L.; Pinto-Jr, O. B.

    2015-12-01

    The Brazilian savanna, locally known as cerrado, is a major ecosystem that covers a vast majority of central Brazil. Little is known about how woody growth within the cerrado is affected by soil properties such as texture and/or nutrient availability. Thus, in this study we assessed the relationship between woody growth and soil properties in the Cuiaba Basin and Pantanal of Mato Grosso, Brazil. We sampled 4-5 vegetation stands in each site that varied in hydrology, soil type, and vegetation composition and structure, and measured diameter at breast height, wood density, and soil nutrient concentration and physical properties every 5-10 m along a 100 m long transect. We hypothesized that as tree diameter at breast height increases, annual tree growth rate will decrease and that woody carbon (C) storage will increase as a function of soil nutrient availability. Our preliminary data support our hypotheses. Tree growth rates declined with tree size in both the Cuiaba Basin and the Pantanal. Rates of woody C storage, both on a per tree basis (kgC tree-1 year-1) and on a per unit ground area basis (kgC m-2 year-1) were significantly positively correlated with soil extractable phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca), and clay content, while only woody C storage on a per tree basis was positively correlated with potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), and cation exchange capacity (CEC). These data suggest that rates of woody C storage in cerrado are nutrient limited, while correspondence between C storage and soil physical properties could indicate both nutrient and water limitations to C storage.

  17. 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. PMID:23334457

  18. Astronomical Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Neuenschwander, D. E.; Finkenbinder, L. R.

    2004-05-01

    Just as quetzals and jaguars require specific ecological habitats to survive, so too must planets occupy a tightly constrained astronomical habitat to support life as we know it. With this theme in mind we relate the transferable features of our elementary astronomy course, "The Astronomical Basis of Life on Earth." Over the last five years, in a team-taught course that features a spring break field trip to Costa Rica, we have introduced astronomy through "astronomical ecosystems," emphasizing astronomical constraints on the prospects for life on Earth. Life requires energy, chemical elements, and long timescales, and we emphasize how cosmological, astrophysical, and geological realities, through stabilities and catastrophes, create and eliminate niches for biological life. The linkage between astronomy and biology gets immediate and personal: for example, studies in solar energy production are followed by hikes in the forest to examine the light-gathering strategies of photosynthetic organisms; a lesson on tides is conducted while standing up to our necks in one on a Pacific beach. Further linkages between astronomy and the human timescale concerns of biological diversity, cultural diversity, and environmental sustainability are natural and direct. Our experience of teaching "astronomy as habitat" strongly influences our "Astronomy 101" course in Oklahoma as well. This "inverted astrobiology" seems to transform our student's outlook, from the universe being something "out there" into something "we're in!" We thank the SNU Science Alumni support group "The Catalysts," and the SNU Quetzal Education and Research Center, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica, for their support.

  19. The interactions of fire regimes, land management, vegetation dynamics and the atmosphere in northern Australian savannas

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Cook, Garry; Meyer, Mick

    2014-05-01

    The Australian tropical savannas burn with frequencies ranging from one in five to one in two years. Uniquely for an OECD country, these fires contribute substantially to accountable national greenhouse gas emissions. Concern about those emissions has led to the development of approaches to imprive fire management to reduce emissions and increase carbon sequestration. Savanna dyanmics are however, also determined by interactions with rainfall regimes. In this paper, we present an overview of fire regimes in northern Australia, their effects on the greenhouse gas emissions and how management of those fires interacts with climatic variability and likely climate change. Data will be presented from on-ground measurements of emissions, vegetation dyanamics as well as interpretation of satellite imagery of fire scars.

  20. Heat shock effects on seed germination of five Brazilian savanna species.

    PubMed

    Ribeiro, L C; Pedrosa, M; Borghetti, F

    2013-01-01

    Fire is considered an important factor in influencing the physiognomy, dynamics and composition of Neotropical savannas. Species of diverse physiognomies exhibit different responses to fire, such as population persistence and seed mortality, according to the fire frequency to which they are submitted. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of heat shocks on seed germination of Anadenanthera macrocarpa (Benth.) Brenan, Dalbergia miscolobium Benth., Aristolochia galeata Mart. & Zucc., Kielmeyera coriacea (Spreng.) Mart. and Guazuma ulmifolia Lam., which are native species of the Brazilian savanna. The temperatures and exposure times to which the seeds were submitted were established according to data obtained in the field during a prescribed fire: 60 °C (10, 20 and 40 min), 80 °C (5, 10 and 20 min) and 100 °C (2, 5 and 10 min). Untreated seeds were used as controls. Seeds of A. galeata and K. coriacea showed high tolerance to most heat treatments, and seeds of A. macrocarpa showed a significant reduction in germination percentage after treatments of 80 °C and 100 °C. Treatments of 100 °C for 10 min reduced germination percentage for all species except G. ulmifolia, which has dormant seeds. For this species, germination was accelerated by heat treatments. The high temperatures applied did not interfere with the time to 50% germination (T(50) ) of the tolerant seeds. Seeds of the savanna species K. coriacea and A. galeata were more tolerant to heat shocks than seeds of the forest species A. macrocarpa. Guazuma ulmifolia, the forest species with seeds that germinate after heat shock, also occurs in savanna physiognomies. Overall, the high temperatures applied did not affect the germination rate of the tolerant seeds. PMID:22672775

  1. [Phytogeography of dry ecosystems in the ignimbrite meseta of Guanacaste, Costa Rica].

    PubMed

    Vargas Ulate, G

    2001-03-01

    The dry ecosystems in the ignimbrite meseta of Guanacaste, northwest Costa Rica is mapped. Plant community distribution is intimately related to the type of relief, soils and humidity. In the upper parts of the meseta, characterised by soils which are stony, sandy, and acidic, herbacious vegetation such as savanna and edaphic steppe is dominant. By contrast, woodland is found on the deep and organically rich soils of the valley floors. Within the herbaceous formations dwarf varieties of Byrsonima crassifolia (nance), Curatella americana (raspa guacal) and Quercus oleoides (encino) are found because of the acid and infertile soils. PMID:11795151

  2. Black African Traditional Mathematics

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Zaslavsky, Claudia

    1970-01-01

    Discusses the traditional number systems and the origin of the number names used by several African peoples living south of the Sahara. Also included are limitations in African mathematical development, and possible topics for research. (RP)

  3. Emissions of Trace Gases and Particles from Savanna Fires in Southern Africa

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Sinha, Parikhit; Hobbs, Peter V.; Yokelson, Robert J.; Bertschi, Isaac T.; Blake, Donald R.; Simpson, Isobel J.; Gao, Song; Kirchstetter, Thomas W.; Novakov, Tica

    2003-01-01

    Airborne measurements made on initial smoke from 10 savanna fires in southern Africa provide quantitative data on emissions of 50 gaseous and particulate species, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, methane, ammonia, dimethyl sulfide, nonmethane organic compounds, halocarbons, gaseous organic acids, aerosol ionic components, carbonaceous aerosols, and condensation nuclei (CN). Measurements of several of the gaseous species by gas chromatography and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy are compared. Emission ratios and emission factors are given for eight species that have not been reported previously for biomass burning of savanna in southern Africa (namely, dimethyl sulfide, methyl nitrate, five hydrocarbons, and particles with diameters from 0.1 to 3 microns). The emission factor that we measured for ammonia is lower by a factor of 4, and the emission factors for formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, and CN are greater by factors of about 3, 20, and 3 - 15, respectively, than previously reported values. The new emission factors are used to estimate annual emissions of these species from savanna fires in Africa and worldwide.

  4. Emission Factors of Greenhouse Gases and Particulates from Australian Savanna Fires

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Desservettaz, Maximilien; Paton-Walsh, Clare; Griffith, David; Kettlewell, Graham; Wilson, Stephen; Keywood, Melita; Van der Schoot, Marcel; Seleck, Paul; Ward, Jason; Harwell, James; Reisen, Fabienne; Lawson, Sarah; Ristovski, Zoran; Mallet, Marc; Miljevic, Brenka; Milic, Andjelija; Atkinson, Brad

    2016-04-01

    In June 2014 a measurement campaign took place at the Australian Tropical Atmospheric Research Station (ATARS), in the Northern Territory, Australia, during the early dry season. The campaign was focused on understanding biomass burning emissions from savanna fires. In order to achieve this, a suite of aerosol, reactive and trace gases instruments were deployed. Seven smoke events were extracted from the 4 weeks of continuous measurements using carbon monoxide as a proxy for biomass burning. Those events were then analysed and emission factors were calculated for CO2, CO, CH4, N2O, NOx and aerosols (Aitken and Accumulation mode, and chemical speciation), along with the modified combustion efficiency (MCE). Upon review of the emission factors, smoke events could then be classified in 3 groups: high MCE events (0.98) were characterised by emission factors typical of savanna grass fires while low MCE events (0.88) were characteristic of shrub fires. Intermediate MCE events (0.93) were found not to reflect any distinct vegetation type. This presentation will outline the campaign and present emission factors of trace and reactive gases as well as the first emission factors for aerosols reported for Australian savanna fires.

  5. Body temperature responses of Savanna Brown goat to the harmattan and hot-dry season

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Igono, M. O.; Molokwu, E. C. I.; Aliu, Y. O.

    1982-09-01

    Rectal and vaginal temperature responses of the Savanna Brown goat indigenous to the Nigerian guinea savanna were determined during the harmattan and the hot-dry season. Measurements were made at 06:00h and at 14:00h after 8h exposure to field conditions. At the 06:00h measurements during the harmattan, all animals were observed to shiver. A significant (P<0.01) positive correlation was found between rectal (Tre) and vaginal temperatures. During the harmattan, mean Tre was 38.2‡C at 06:00h and 39.7‡C at 14:00h; the mean difference, δTre was 1.5‡C. During the hot-dry season, Tre at 06:00h was 38.1‡C, and at 14:00h, 38.7; δTre was 0.6‡C. It is concluded that the harmattan is thermally more stressful than the hot-dry season and that passive thermolability may not be an important mechanism in the Savanna Brown goat in adaptation to thermal stress.

  6. A synthesis of postfire recovery traits of woody plants in Australian ecosystems.

    PubMed

    Clarke, Peter J; Lawes, Michael J; Murphy, Brett P; Russell-Smith, Jeremy; Nano, Catherine E M; Bradstock, Ross; Enright, Neal J; Fontaine, Joseph B; Gosper, Carl R; Radford, Ian; Midgley, Jeremy J; Gunton, Richard M

    2015-11-15

    Postfire resprouting and recruitment from seed are key plant life-history traits that influence population dynamics, community composition and ecosystem function. Species can have one or both of these mechanisms. They confer resilience, which may determine community composition through differential species persistence after fire. To predict ecosystem level responses to changes in climate and fire conditions, we examined the proportions of these plant fire-adaptive traits among woody growth forms of 2880 taxa, in eight fire-prone ecosystems comprising ~87% of Australia's land area. Shrubs comprised 64% of the taxa. More tree (>84%) than shrub (~50%) taxa resprouted. Basal, epicormic and apical resprouting occurred in 71%, 22% and 3% of the taxa, respectively. Most rainforest taxa (91%) were basal resprouters. Many trees (59%) in frequently-burnt eucalypt forest and savanna resprouted epicormically. Although crown fire killed many mallee (62%) and heathland (48%) taxa, fire-cued seeding was common in these systems. Postfire seeding was uncommon in rainforest and in arid Acacia communities that burnt infrequently at low intensity. Resprouting was positively associated with ecosystem productivity, but resprouting type (e.g. basal or epicormic) was associated with local scale fire activity, especially fire frequency. Although rainforest trees can resprout they cannot recruit after intense fires and may decline under future fires. Semi-arid Acacia communities would be susceptible to increasing fire frequencies because they contain few postfire seeders. Ecosystems dominated by obligate seeders (mallee, heath) are also susceptible because predicted shorter inter-fire intervals will prevent seed bank accumulation. Savanna may be resilient to future fires because of the adaptive advantage of epicormic resprouting among the eucalypts. The substantial non-resprouting shrub component of shrublands may decline, but resilient Eucalyptus spp. will continue to dominate under future

  7. The African Connection

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Oguntoyinbo, Lekan

    2012-01-01

    From student and faculty exchanges to joint research projects, U.S. universities maintain a broad spectrum of collaborative relationships with African universities. It's unclear how many U.S. colleges and universities have partnerships with African universities. The African Studies Association, an organization of scholars, doesn't keep that kind…

  8. Gaseous Nitrogen Losses from Tropical Savanna Soils of Northern Australia: Dynamics, Controls and Magnitude of N2O, NO, and N2 emissions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Werner, C.; Hickler, T.; Hutley, L. B.; Butterbach-Bahl, K.

    2014-12-01

    Tropical savanna covers a large fraction of the global land area and thus may have a substantial effect on the global soil-atmosphere exchange of nitrogen. The pronounced seasonality of hygric conditions in this ecosystem affects strongly microbial process rates in the soil. As these microbial processes control the uptake, production, and release of nitrogen compounds, it is thought that this seasonality finally leads to strong temporal dynamics and varying magnitudes of gaseous losses to the atmosphere. However, given their areal extent and in contrast to other ecosystems, still few in-situ or laboratory studies exist that assess the soil-atmosphere exchange of nitrogen. We present laboratory incubation results from intact soil cores obtained from a natural savanna site in Northern Australia, where N2O, NO, and N2 emissions under controlled environmental conditions were investigated. Furthermore, in-situ measurements of high temporal resolution at this site recorded with automated static and dynamic chamber systems are discussed (N2O, NO). This data is then used to assess the performance of a process-based biogeochemical model (LandscapeDNDC), and the potential magnitude and dynamics of components of the site-scale nitrogen cycle where no measurements exist (biological nitrogen fixation and nitrate leaching). Our incubation results show that severe nutrient limitation of the soil only allows for very low N2O emissions (0.12 kg N ha-1 yr-1) and even a periodic N2O uptake. Annual NO emissions were estimated at 0.68 kg N ha-1 yr-1, while the release of inert nitrogen (N2) was estimated at 6.75 kg N ha-1 yr-1 (data excl. contribution by pulse emissions). We observed only minor N2O pulse emissions after watering the soil cores and initial rain events of the dry to wet season transition in-situ, but short-lived NO pulse emissions were substantial. Interestingly, some cores exhibited a very different N2O emission potential, indicating a substantial spatial variability of

  9. Ocular onchocerciasis and intensity of infection in the community. III. West African rainforest foci of the vector Simulium sanctipauli.

    PubMed

    Dadzie, K Y; Remme, J; Baker, R H; Rolland, A; Thylefors, B

    1990-12-01

    The community pattern of ocular onchocerciasis is described for 11 villages from the forest area in Côte d'Ivoire where S. sanctipauli is the princial vector. An analytical method is applied which relates indices of ocular onchocerciasis with the Community Microfilarial Load (CMFL) and compares the results with the ocular onchocerciasis pattern found in the West African savanna. In spite of high transmission levels as estimated by entomological indices, the CMFLs were relatively low which complicated the characterization of the ocular disease pattern. Nevertheless, it could be shown that ocular onchocerciasis is less severe in the Sanctipauli forest than in the savanna, even after correction for differences in CMFL. The prevalence of onchocercal eye lesions and blindness were low and advanced sclerosing keratitis was completely absent. The differences are explained by presuming strain differences of the parasite Onchocerca volvulus. For given CMFLs the mean microfilarial loads in the eye were significantly lower than in the savanna which suggests that the parasite strain in the Sanctipauli forest is less invasive to the eye. Ocular microfilarial loads were too low to determine if the parasite is also less pathogenic to the eye, as has been concluded previously for foci of S. yahense, but this possibility cannot be excluded. PMID:1963702

  10. The Impacts of Climate Change on Mauritia Felxuosa and Biodiversity in Neotropical Cerrãdo Savanna Ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Maezumi, S. Y.; Power, M. J.; Mayle, F.; Iriarte, J. L.

    2014-12-01

    Mauritia flexuosa is one of the most widely distributed palms in the Neotropics. They are found in in warm, wet lowland environments ranging from dense tropical rainforests to monospecific communities restricted to flooded drainage basins. The monospecific stands of M. flexuosa communities provide structural complexity and habitat diversity for unique terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna. These communities contribute to enhanced Neotropical diversity from both a taxonomic (α- diversity) and landscape (β-diversity) perspective. Conservation plans have begun to target M. flexuosa palm wetlands as potential refugia and their role in protection of watersheds. However, the long-term development and evolution of these systems is poorly understood. Numerous paleoecological studies from Amazonia suggest that the present day species distribution of M. flexuosa underwent a dramatic increase during the Late Holocene (after ca. 3000 cal yr. BP) that is often coupled with an increased in charcoal accumulation. Some researchers have interpreted these data as evidence for extensive human landscape modification. However, archaeological evidence supporting human landscape modification of M. flexuosa habitats is lacking. To investigate the long-term development of M. flexuosa, a 15,000-year high-resolution sedimentary record was analyzed for charcoal, phytolith and isotope data from Huanchaca Mesetta, Bolivia. To date, there is no evidence for human modification on the plateau, thus this records provides a control study to investigate the role of natural climate variability in the evolution of M. flexuosa communities. Increased insolation driven by Milankovitch precessional forcing resulted in an expansion of the South American Summer Monsoon, increased precipitation and a lengthening of the wet season, supporting the establishment of the modern palm swamp vegetation after 5,000 cal yr BP. Increased charcoal accumulation is likely associated with increased lightning ignitions that accompanied the expanded SASM. The paleofire and vegetation history from Huanchaca Mesetta provides conservationists, land-managers, and policy makers a context for understanding ecological response of M. flexuosa communities to increased warmth and drought stress expected for the 21st century.

  11. The impact of land-use change on the 3-D structure of shrubland and dryland savanna ecosystems

    Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)

    The full magnitude of degradation occurring in drylands is largely unknown, particularly, in terms impacts on livestock forage and carbon stocks from droughts and land-use practices. We investigated whether local-scale, terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) could be linked to regional- scale satellite i...

  12. Morphology, secretion composition, and ecological aspects of stipular colleters in Rubiaceae species from tropical forest and savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tresmondi, Fernanda; Nogueira, Anselmo; Guimarães, Elza; Machado, Silvia Rodrigues

    2015-12-01

    Colleters are secretory structures that produce and release mucilage or a mucilage-resin mixture protecting meristems and young structures against desiccation, herbivores, and pathogens. The secretions may vary in colleters of same or different types, indicating that the functionality of colleters may be more specific than previously thought. In this study, we compared 17 Rubiaceae species from savanna and forest environment focusing on colleter secretions and its ecological role. First, we evaluated the morphology, distribution, and histochemistry of stipular colleters using light and scanning electron microscopy. Additionally, we investigated the phenology, microclimate, and the proportion of damaged apices in the savanna and forest species. We recorded standard-type colleters, variable in distribution and size, in 14 of the 17 studied species. The secretion varied from predominantly hydrophilic, mixed to predominantly lipophilic. During the budding period, secretion covered the vegetative apices. Savanna species had a prevalence of lipid secretion in habitats with higher luminosity, which had a lower proportion of damaged apices. In contrast, forest species occurred in habitats with lower luminosity and had a higher proportion of damaged apices, in general with the absence of lipids in the colleters. These results highlight that colleters with similar morphology clearly differed in secretions among species, especially between species from savanna and forest, in which the colleters appear potentially associated with protection against irradiation in savanna, but not in the forest environment.

  13. Morphology, secretion composition, and ecological aspects of stipular colleters in Rubiaceae species from tropical forest and savanna.

    PubMed

    Tresmondi, Fernanda; Nogueira, Anselmo; Guimarães, Elza; Machado, Silvia Rodrigues

    2015-12-01

    Colleters are secretory structures that produce and release mucilage or a mucilage-resin mixture protecting meristems and young structures against desiccation, herbivores, and pathogens. The secretions may vary in colleters of same or different types, indicating that the functionality of colleters may be more specific than previously thought. In this study, we compared 17 Rubiaceae species from savanna and forest environment focusing on colleter secretions and its ecological role. First, we evaluated the morphology, distribution, and histochemistry of stipular colleters using light and scanning electron microscopy. Additionally, we investigated the phenology, microclimate, and the proportion of damaged apices in the savanna and forest species. We recorded standard-type colleters, variable in distribution and size, in 14 of the 17 studied species. The secretion varied from predominantly hydrophilic, mixed to predominantly lipophilic. During the budding period, secretion covered the vegetative apices. Savanna species had a prevalence of lipid secretion in habitats with higher luminosity, which had a lower proportion of damaged apices. In contrast, forest species occurred in habitats with lower luminosity and had a higher proportion of damaged apices, in general with the absence of lipids in the colleters. These results highlight that colleters with similar morphology clearly differed in secretions among species, especially between species from savanna and forest, in which the colleters appear potentially associated with protection against irradiation in savanna, but not in the forest environment. PMID:26585374

  14. Nesting success of grassland and savanna birds on reclaimed surface coal mines of the midwestern United States

    SciTech Connect

    Galligan, E.W.; DeVault, T.L.; Lima, S.L.

    2006-12-15

    Reclaimed surface coal mines in southwestern Indiana support many grassland and shrub/savanna bird species of conservation concern. We examined the nesting success of birds on these reclaimed mines to assess whether such 'unnatural' places represent productive breeding habitats for such species. We established eight study sites on two large, grassland-dominated mines in southwestern Indiana and classified them into three categories (open grassland, shrub/savanna, and a mixture of grassland and shrub/savanna) based on broad vegetation and landscape characteristics. During the 1999 and 2000 breeding seasons, we found and monitored 911 nests of 31 species. Daily nest survival for the most commonly monitored grassland species ranged from 0.903 (Dickcissel, Spiza americana) to 0.961 (Grasshopper Sparrow, Ammodramus savannarum). Daily survival estimates for the dominant shrub/savanna nesting species ranged from 0.932 (Brown Thrasher, Toxostoma rufum) to 0.982 (Willow Flycatcher, Empidonax traillii). Vegetation and landscape effects on nesting success were minimal, and only Eastern Meadowlarks (Sturnella magna) showed a clear time-of-season effect, with greater nesting success in the first half of the breeding season. Rates of Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) parasitism were only 2.1% for grassland species and 12.0% for shrub/savanna species. The nesting success of birds on reclaimed mine sites was comparable to that in other habitats, indicating that reclaimed habitats on surface mines do not necessarily represent reproductive traps for birds.

  15. Ecosystem health: I. Measuring ecosystem health

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schaeffer, David J.; Herricks, Edwin E.; Kerster, Harold W.

    1988-07-01

    Ecosystem analysis has been advanced by an improved understanding of how ecosystems are structured and how they function. Ecology has advanced from an emphasis on natural history to consideration of energetics, the relationships and connections between species, hierarchies, and systems theory. Still, we consider ecosystems as entities with a distinctive character and individual characteristics. Ecosystem maintenance and preservation form the objective of impact analysis, hazard evaluation, and other management or regulation activities. In this article we explore an approach to ecosystem analysis which identifies and quantifies factors which define the condition or state of an ecosystem in terms of health criteria. We relate ecosystem health to human/nonhuman animal health and explore the difficulties of defining ecosystem health and suggest criteria which provide a functional definition of state and condition. We suggest that, as has been found in human/nonhuman animal health studies, disease states can be recognized before disease is of clinical magnitude. Example disease states for ecosystems are functionally defined and discussed, together with test systems for their early detection.

  16. African N Assessment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bekunda, M.; Galford, G. L.; Hickman, J. E.; Palm, C.

    2011-12-01

    Africa's smallholder agricultural systems face unique challenges in planning for reducing poverty, concurrent with adaptation and mitigation to climate change. At continental level, policy seeks to promote a uniquely African Green Revolution to increase crop yields and food production, and improve local livelihoods. However, the consequences on the environment and climate are not clear; these pro-economic development measures should be linked to climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, and research is required to help achieve these policy proposals by identifying options, and testing impacts. In particular, increased nitrogen (N) inputs are essential for increasing food production in Africa, but are accompanied by inevitable increases in losses to the environment. These losses appear to be low at input levels promoted in agricultural development programs, while the increased N inputs both increase current food production and appear to reduce the vulnerability of food production to changes in climate. We present field and remote sensing evidence from Malawi that subsidizing improved seed and fertilizers increases resilience to drought without adding excess N to the environment. In Kenya, field research identified thresholds in N2O losses, where emissions are very low at fertilization rates of less than 200 kg ha-1. Village-scale models have identified potential inefficiencies in the food production process where the largest losses of reactive N occur, and which could be targeted to reduce the amount of N released to the environment. We further review some on-going research activities and progress in Africa that compare different methods of managing resources that target resilience in food production and adaptation to climate change, using nutrient N as an indicator, while evaluating the effects of these resource management practices on ecosystems and the environment.

  17. Occult precipitation and plants: its consequences for individuals and ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dawson, T. E.

    2006-12-01

    Fog, dew and cloud water inputs, aptly termed, occult precipitation", are not traditionally quantified yet more than two decades of research has revealed their importance to a wide range of vegetation types. Utilizing stable isotope methods, field and laboratory based physiological measurements, and a suite of occult precipitation collection approaches we now know that plants inhabiting a wide range of ecosystem types from the coastal California redwood forests and grasslands, to the Brazilian Cerrado (savanna), the Chilean community types are utilizing fog, dew and cloud water. Hydrogen and oxygen stable isotope analysis have revealed that both fog drip into the rooting zone and direct foliar-uptake of occult precipitation can occur and in some species, seasons and in drought-prone ecosystems it can easily constitute 30% of the annual hydrological inputs and between 20-60+% of all the water used by the vegetation. Fog and cloud water inputs can also be a significant source of water for re-supplying depleted sub-surface water stores. Perhaps most importantly, this important hydrological input not only helps sustain the physiological integrity of individual plants by allowing root and leaf functions to occur but has a marked impact on the manner and magnitude but which biogeochemical cycling proceeds. I will review the available data that point to the importance of quantifying occult precipitation inputs and then discuss its consequences for both individual plants and the entire ecosystems then compose. The data suggest that such information can now be incorporated into hydrological budgets and biogeochemical models.

  18. Ecosystem variability and early human habitats in eastern Africa.

    PubMed

    Magill, Clayton R; Ashley, Gail M; Freeman, Katherine H

    2013-01-22

    The role of savannas during the course of early human evolution has been debated for nearly a century, in part because of difficulties in characterizing local ecosystems from fossil and sediment records. Here, we present high-resolution lipid biomarker and isotopic signatures for organic matter preserved in lake sediments at Olduvai Gorge during a key juncture in human evolution about 2.0 Ma--the emergence and dispersal of Homo erectus (sensu lato). Using published data for modern plants and soils, we construct a framework for ecological interpretations of stable carbon-isotope compositions (expressed as δ(13)C values) of lipid biomarkers from ancient plants. Within this framework, δ(13)C values for sedimentary leaf lipids and total organic carbon from Olduvai Gorge indicate recurrent ecosystem variations, where open C(4) grasslands abruptly transitioned to closed C(3) forests within several hundreds to thousands of years. Carbon-isotopic signatures correlate most strongly with Earth's orbital geometry (precession), and tropical sea-surface temperatures are significant secondary predictors in partial regression analyses. The scale and pace of repeated ecosystem variations at Olduvai Gorge contrast with long-held views of directional or stepwise aridification and grassland expansion in eastern Africa during the early Pleistocene and provide a local perspective on environmental hypotheses of human evolution. PMID:23267092

  19. Ecosystem variability and early human habitats in eastern Africa

    PubMed Central

    Magill, Clayton R.; Ashley, Gail M.; Freeman, Katherine H.

    2013-01-01

    The role of savannas during the course of early human evolution has been debated for nearly a century, in part because of difficulties in characterizing local ecosystems from fossil and sediment records. Here, we present high-resolution lipid biomarker and isotopic signatures for organic matter preserved in lake sediments at Olduvai Gorge during a key juncture in human evolution about 2.0 Ma—the emergence and dispersal of Homo erectus (sensu lato). Using published data for modern plants and soils, we construct a framework for ecological interpretations of stable carbon-isotope compositions (expressed as δ13C values) of lipid biomarkers from ancient plants. Within this framework, δ13C values for sedimentary leaf lipids and total organic carbon from Olduvai Gorge indicate recurrent ecosystem variations, where open C4 grasslands abruptly transitioned to closed C3 forests within several hundreds to thousands of years. Carbon-isotopic signatures correlate most strongly with Earth’s orbital geometry (precession), and tropical sea-surface temperatures are significant secondary predictors in partial regression analyses. The scale and pace of repeated ecosystem variations at Olduvai Gorge contrast with long-held views of directional or stepwise aridification and grassland expansion in eastern Africa during the early Pleistocene and provide a local perspective on environmental hypotheses of human evolution. PMID:23267092

  20. How switches and lags in biophysical regulators affect spatial-temporal variation of soil respiration in an oak-grass savanna

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Baldocchi, Dennis; Tang, Jianwu; Xu, Liukang

    2006-06-01

    Complex behavior, associated with soil respiration of an oak-grass savanna ecosystem in California, was quantified with continuous measurements of CO2 exchange at two scales (soil and canopy) and with three methods (overstory and understory eddy covariance systems, soil respiration chambers, and a below-ground CO2 flux gradient system). To partition soil respiration into its autotrophic and heterotrophic components, we exploited spatial gradients in the landscape and seasonal variations in rainfall. During the dry summer, heterotrophic respiration was dominant in the senesced grassland area, whereas autotrophic respiration by roots and the feeding of microbes by root exudates was dominant under the trees. A temporal switch in soil respiration occurred in the spring. But the stimulation of root respiration lagged the timing of leaf-out by the trees. Another temporal switch in soil respiration occurred at the start of autumn rains. This switch was induced by the rapid germination of grass seed and new grass growth. Isolated summer rain storms caused a pulse in soil respiration. Such rain events stimulated microbial respiration only; the rain was not sufficient to replenish soil moisture in the root zone or to germinate grass seed. Soil respiration lagged photosynthetic activity on hourly scales. The likely mechanism is the slow translocation of photosynthate to the roots and associated microbes. Another lag occurred on daily scales because of modulations in photosynthesis and stomatal conductance by the passage of dry and humid air masses.

  1. Assessing net ecosystem carbon exchange of U S terrestrial ecosystems by integrating eddy covariance flux measurements and satellite observations

    SciTech Connect

    Zhuang, Qianlai; Law, Beverly E.; Baldocchi, Dennis; Ma, Siyan; Chen, Jiquan; Richardson, Andrew; Melillo, Jerry; Davis, Ken J.; Hollinger, D.; Wharton, Sonia; Falk, Matthias; Paw, U. Kyaw Tha; Oren, Ram; Katulk, Gabriel G.; Noormets, Asko; Fischer, Marc; Verma, Shashi; Suyker, A. E.; Cook, David R.; Sun, G.; McNulty, Steven G.; Wofsy, Steve; Bolstad, Paul V; Burns, Sean; Monson, Russell K.; Curtis, Peter; Drake, Bert G.; Foster, David R.; Gu, Lianhong; Hadley, Julian L.; Litvak, Marcy; Martin, Timothy A.; Matamala, Roser; Meyers, Tilden; Oechel, Walter C.; Schmid, H. P.; Scott, Russell L.; Torn, Margaret S.

    2011-01-01

    More accurate projections of future carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and associated climate change depend on improved scientific understanding of the terrestrial carbon cycle. Despite the consensus that U.S. terrestrial ecosystems provide a carbon sink, the size, distribution, and interannual variability of this sink remain uncertain. Here we report a terrestrial carbon sink in the conterminous U.S. at 0.63 pg C yr 1 with the majority of the sink in regions dominated by evergreen and deciduous forests and savannas. This estimate is based on our continuous estimates of net ecosystem carbon exchange (NEE) with high spatial (1 km) and temporal (8-day) resolutions derived from NEE measurements from eddy covariance flux towers and wall-to-wall satellite observations from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). We find that the U.S. terrestrial ecosystems could offset a maximum of 40% of the fossil-fuel carbon emissions. Our results show that the U.S. terrestrial carbon sink varied between 0.51 and 0.70 pg C yr 1 over the period 2001 2006. The dominant sources of interannual variation of the carbon sink included extreme climate events and disturbances. Droughts in 2002 and 2006 reduced the U.S. carbon sink by 20% relative to a normal year. Disturbances including wildfires and hurricanes reduced carbon uptake or resulted in carbon release at regional scales. Our results provide an alternative, independent, and novel constraint to the U.S. terrestrial carbon sink.

  2. Projected changes in distributions of Australian tropical savanna birds under climate change using three dispersal scenarios

    PubMed Central

    Reside, April E; VanDerWal, Jeremy; Kutt, Alex S

    2012-01-01

    Identifying the species most vulnerable to extinction as a result of climate change is a necessary first step in mitigating biodiversity decline. Species distribution modeling (SDM) is a commonly used tool to assess potential climate change impacts on distributions of species. We use SDMs to predict geographic ranges for 243 birds of Australian tropical savannas, and to project changes in species richness and ranges under a future climate scenario between 1990 and 2080. Realistic predictions require recognition of the variability in species capacity to track climatically suitable environments. Here we assess the effect of dispersal on model results by using three approaches: full dispersal, no dispersal and a partial-dispersal scenario permitting species to track climate change at a rate of 30 km per decade. As expected, the projected distributions and richness patterns are highly sensitive to the dispersal scenario. Projected future range sizes decreased for 66% of species if full dispersal was assumed, but for 89% of species when no dispersal was assumed. However, realistic future predictions should not assume a single dispersal scenario for all species and as such, we assigned each species to the most appropriate dispersal category based on individual mobility and habitat specificity; this permitted the best estimates of where species will be in the future. Under this “realistic” dispersal scenario, projected ranges sizes decreased for 67% of species but showed that migratory and tropical-endemic birds are predicted to benefit from climate change with increasing distributional area. Richness hotspots of tropical savanna birds are expected to move, increasing in southern savannas and southward along the east coast of Australia, but decreasing in the arid zone. Understanding the complexity of effects of climate change on species’ range sizes by incorporating dispersal capacities is a crucial step toward developing adaptation policies for the conservation of

  3. Meteorological Controls on the Infrasonic Communication of the African Elephant

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Larom, David Lee

    Vertical atmospheric temperature and wind gradients exert a marked influence on sound propagation at the infrasonic frequencies used by the African elephant for long-distance communication. Tethered balloon profiles taken at Okaukuejo, Namibia, in the Etosha National Park, are used as input to a computer model of atmospheric sound propagation. The results show that high daytime temperature lapse rates can restrict the calling area A to as little as 20 km ^2. With the formation of the regularly occurring low-level nocturnal radiative temperature inversion, A can expand rapidly to 300 km^2 or more. Calling range commonly triples from one hour before to one hour after sunset. The formation of a nocturnal low level jet reduces calling area after 2200 hours; wind shear makes propagation strongly directional, with enhancement downwind and degradation upwind. The early evening is therefore the optimum calling time at Etosha, with a secondary maximum before dawn. Different topography may lead to a dawn maximum in other parts of the African savannas. Synoptic weather patterns and seasonal change can enhance or dampen the diurnal cycle in calling area. These results explain important facets of elephant behavior, and may contribute to the understanding of territoriality by giving a physical explanation for the evening and dawn chorus in birdsong and animal calls.

  4. ECOSYSTEM GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

    EPA Science Inventory

    Thermodynamically, ecosystem growth and development is the process by which energy throughflow and stored biomass increase. Several proposed hypotheses describe the natural tendencies that occur as an ecosystem matures, and here, we consider five: minimum entropy production, maxi...

  5. Using conservation value to assess land restoration and management alternatives across a degraded oak savanna landscape

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Grundel, R.; Pavlovic, N.B.

    2008-01-01

    1. Managers considering restoration of landscapes often face a fundamental challenge - what should be the habitat composition of the restored landscape? We present a method for evaluating an important conservation trade-off inherent in making that decision. 2. Oak savannas and grasslands were historically widespread across central North America but are now rare. Today, in north-west Indiana, USA, habitats spanning a range of woody vegetation density, from nearly treeless open habitats to forests, occur across the conserved landscape where savannas probably once dominated. To understand the benefits of different potential landscape compositions, we evaluated how different proportions of five habitats - open, savanna, woodland, scrub and forest - might affect the conservation value of the north-west Indiana landscape for birds. Two variables of potential conservation importance were examined: species diversity, a measure of avian community richness, and conservation index, the percentage of a bird species' global population occurring on a hectare of landscape, summed across all bird species present. Higher values of conservation index were associated with higher local densities of globally more rare and more threatened species. 3. Conservation index and species diversity were correlated negatively across hypothetical landscapes composed of different proportions of the five habitats. Therefore, a management trade-off existed between conservation index and species diversity because landscapes that maximized species diversity differed from landscapes that maximized conservation index. 4. A landscape of 50% open, 22% savanna, 15% scrub and 13% forest was predicted to represent a compromise at which conservation index and species diversity reached the same percentage of their maxima. In contrast, the current landscape is dominated by forest. 5. Synthesis and applications. We quantified the trade-off between two potential aspects of a landscape's conservation value for

  6. Development of grasslands and savannas in East Africa during the Neogene

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Serling, T. E.

    1992-03-01

    The development of savanna-type grasslands is a relatively recent phenomena in East Africa. The stable carbon isotopic composition of paleosol carbonates from fossil localities in East Africa show that C 4 vegetation was present by amout 8-9 Ma but made up only a relatively small proportion of the total biomass. Although the proportion of C 4 vegetation increased in the Pliocene and Pleistocene there is no evidence for the development of virtually pure C 4 grasslands, as is characterized by tropical grasslands today, until Middle Pleistocene times. This has important implications concerning the evolution of mammals in Africa, including hominids.

  7. Late Holocene vegetation and fire dynamics from a savanna-forest ecotone in Roraima state, northern Brazilian Amazon

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    da Silva Meneses, Maria Ecilene Nunes; da Costa, Marcondes Lima; Behling, Hermann

    2013-03-01

    Two sediment cores from Mauritia flexuosa palm swamps have been studied by pollen and charcoal analysis. The cores Fazenda Cigana (FC) and Terra Indígena Aningal (TIA) were taken from a savanna-forest ecotone area in the Roraima State, northern Brazilian Amazon. Based on 5 radiocarbon dates, these records allow the reconstruction of the vegetation fire and climate dynamics during the past 1550 years. At the FC site was recorded a higher proportion of forest cover, suggesting local wetter climatic conditions favorable for forest expansion, especially by gallery forests, between 1550 and 1400 cal yr BP. Stands of M. flexuosa started to establish on the site indicating sufficient soil moisture. From 1400 to 1050 cal yr BP, forest cover retreated while savanna, and the Mauritia palm swamp expanded considerably. The FC site was marked by savanna and Mauritia cover with a slight increase of forest between ca. 1050 and 900 cal yr BP. From 900 to 300 cal yr BP the savanna and palm swamp taxa became dominant and the forest area decreased. At the TIA site the savanna cover was dominant between 1200 and 1000 cal yr BP. From 1000 to 700 forest expanded while savanna and Mauritia palm swamp reduced. Between 700 and 300 cal yr BP savanna and Mauritia palm swamp increased and forest area decreased. The high amount of charred particles found in the sediments, indicate fires with a marked increase between 1400 to 1000 cal yr BP (FC site) and 700 to 300 cal yr BP (TIA site), and probably caused the retreat of forest cover during these two time intervals. The relatively lower fire activity after 300 cal yr BP until present-day favored the increase of forested area at both TIA and FC sites. The arrival of the European settler and the subsequent introduction of cattle, is suggested as the main reason for the decrease of fire in the study region. The results point the fire caused by indigenous people as the principal controlling factor for forest and savanna dynamics during the past

  8. African and non-African admixture components in African Americans and an African Caribbean population.

    PubMed

    Murray, Tanda; Beaty, Terri H; Mathias, Rasika A; Rafaels, Nicholas; Grant, Audrey Virginia; Faruque, Mezbah U; Watson, Harold R; Ruczinski, Ingo; Dunston, Georgia M; Barnes, Kathleen C

    2010-09-01

    Admixture is a potential source of confounding in genetic association studies, so it becomes important to detect and estimate admixture in a sample of unrelated individuals. Populations of African descent in the US and the Caribbean share similar historical backgrounds but the distributions of African admixture may differ. We selected 416 ancestry informative markers (AIMs) to estimate and compare admixture proportions using STRUCTURE in 906 unrelated African Americans (AAs) and 294 Barbadians (ACs) from a study of asthma. This analysis showed AAs on average were 72.5% African, 19.6% European and 8% Asian, while ACs were 77.4% African, 15.9% European, and 6.7% Asian which were significantly different. A principal components analysis based on these AIMs yielded one primary eigenvector that explained 54.04% of the variation and captured a gradient from West African to European admixture. This principal component was highly correlated with African vs. European ancestry as estimated by STRUCTURE (r(2)=0.992, r(2)=0.912, respectively). To investigate other African contributions to African American and Barbadian admixture, we performed PCA on approximately 14,000 (14k) genome-wide SNPs in AAs, ACs, Yorubans, Luhya and Maasai African groups, and estimated genetic distances (F(ST)). We found AAs and ACs were closest genetically (F(ST)=0.008), and both were closer to the Yorubans than the other East African populations. In our sample of individuals of African descent, approximately 400 well-defined AIMs were just as good for detecting substructure as approximately 14,000 random SNPs drawn from a genome-wide panel of markers. PMID:20717976

  9. Neogene paleobiogeography and East African paleoenvironments: contributions from the Tugen Hills rodents and lagomorphs.

    PubMed

    Winkler, Alisa J

    2002-01-01

    A minimum of 28 genera of rodents and one genus of lagomorph were recovered from the Tugen Hills, Baringo District, Kenya, from localities dating from over 15.5 to about 4.4 Ma. The middle Miocene (sites dated between 15.8 and 15.3 Ma) rodent fauna recovered primarily from the Kipsaramon site complex, Muruyur Formation, includes a mixture of characteristically early Miocene taxa, and more derived forms. Composition of the African rodent fauna changes dramatically with the introduction of myocricetodontines, democricetodontines, and dendromurines, immigrants primarily from southern Asia. In the Tugen Hills, these taxa are first found in the Kabasero localities, Ngorora Formation, at sites dating from 12.5-12.33 Ma. A second major change in the African rodent fauna reflects the introduction of murines, immigrants from southern Asia. In the Tugen Hills murines are first encountered at Kapcheberek, Lukeino Formation, dated to 5.9-5.7 Ma. One rodent genus from the Lukeino Formation (Arvicanthis), and two from the Tabarin locality, Chemeron Formation (Heliosciurus, Paraxerus; 4.5-4.4 Ma), represent the earliest records of these extant African genera. A cricetomyine from the Ngorora Formation (12.5 Ma) is likely the earliest report of this exclusively African group. One of the earliest African records of porcupines (Hystricide) is from the Lukeino Formation. Lagomorphs are poorly represented, but include one of the earliest African occurrences of the family Leporidae from the Mpesida Beds (bracketed by dates of 7-6.2 Ma), and possibly a new genus of leporid from the Kapcheberek locality. Analysis of the Tugen Hills small mammals in association with other African records suggests several episodes of dispersal between Africa and Eurasia during the middle and late Miocene. Rodents from Kipsaramon are indicative of forests in conjunction with more open habitats. Those from the Kapcheberek locality are suggestive of a savanna habitat. The rodents from the Tabarin locality

  10. The African superswell

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Nyblade, Andrew A.; Robinson, Scott W.

    1994-01-01

    Maps of residual bathymetry in the ocean basins around the African continent reveal a broad bathymetric swell in the southeastern Atlantic Ocean with an amplitude of about 500 m. We propose that this region of anomalously shallow bathymetry, together with the contiguous eastern and southern African plateaus, form a superswell which we refer to as the African superswell. The origin of the African superswell is uncertain. However, rifting and volcanism in eastern Africa, as well as heat flow measurements in southern Africa and the southeastern Atlantic Ocean, suggest that the superswell may be attributed, at least in part, to heating of the lithosphere.

  11. A multi-model analysis of risk of ecosystem shifts under climate change

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Warszawski, Lila; Friend, Andrew; Ostberg, Sebastian; Frieler, Katja; Lucht, Wolfgang; Schaphoff, Sibyll; Beerling, David; Cadule, Patricia; Ciais, Philippe; Clark, Douglas B.; Kahana, Ron; Ito, Akihiko; Keribin, Rozenn; Kleidon, Axel; Lomas, Mark; Nishina, Kazuya; Pavlick, Ryan; Tito Rademacher, Tim; Buechner, Matthias; Piontek, Franziska; Schewe, Jacob; Serdeczny, Olivia; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim

    2013-12-01

    Climate change may pose a high risk of change to Earth’s ecosystems: shifting climatic boundaries may induce changes in the biogeochemical functioning and structures of ecosystems that render it difficult for endemic plant and animal species to survive in their current habitats. Here we aggregate changes in the biogeochemical ecosystem state as a proxy for the risk of these shifts at different levels of global warming. Estimates are based on simulations from seven global vegetation models (GVMs) driven by future climate scenarios, allowing for a quantification of the related uncertainties. 5-19% of the naturally vegetated land surface is projected to be at risk of severe ecosystem change at 2 ° C of global warming (ΔGMT) above 1980-2010 levels. However, there is limited agreement across the models about which geographical regions face the highest risk of change. The extent of regions at risk of severe ecosystem change is projected to rise with ΔGMT, approximately doubling between ΔGMT = 2 and 3 ° C, and reaching a median value of 35% of the naturally vegetated land surface for ΔGMT = 4 °C. The regions projected to face the highest risk of severe ecosystem changes above ΔGMT = 4 °C or earlier include the tundra and shrublands of the Tibetan Plateau, grasslands of eastern India, the boreal forests of northern Canada and Russia, the savanna region in the Horn of Africa, and the Amazon rainforest.

  12. On Man and Ecosystems.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Brookfield, Harold

    1982-01-01

    Distinctions between natural ecosystems and human ecosystems are misleading. Natural and social sciences can be integrated through the concept of a "human-use ecosystem," in which social scientists analyze the community, household, and individual, and natural scientists analyze the land. Includes a case study of St. Kitts. (KC)

  13. Estuarine Total Ecosystem Metabolism

    EPA Science Inventory

    Total ecosystem metabolism (TEM), both as discrete measurements and as a theoretical concept, has an important history in ecosystem ecology, particularly in estuaries. Some of the earliest ecological studies were developed to determine how energy flowed through an ecosystem and w...

  14. Ecosystem Health: Energy Indicators.

    EPA Science Inventory

    Just as for human beings health is a concept that applies to the condition of the whole organism, the health of an ecosystem refers to the condition of the ecosystem as a whole. For this reason, the study and characterization of ecosystems is fundamental to establishing accurate ...

  15. Cyclic Occurrence of Fire and Its Role in Carbon Dynamics along an Edaphic Moisture Gradient in Longleaf Pine Ecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Whelan, Andrew; Mitchell, Robert; Staudhammer, Christina; Starr, Gregory

    2013-01-01

    Fire regulates the structure and function of savanna ecosystems, yet we lack understanding of how cyclic fire affects savanna carbon dynamics. Furthermore, it is largely unknown how predicted changes in climate may impact the interaction between fire and carbon cycling in these ecosystems. This study utilizes a novel combination of prescribed fire, eddy covariance (EC) and statistical techniques to investigate carbon dynamics in frequently burned longleaf pine savannas along a gradient of soil moisture availability (mesic, intermediate and xeric). This research approach allowed us to investigate the complex interactions between carbon exchange and cyclic fire along the ecological amplitude of longleaf pine. Over three years of EC measurement of net ecosystem exchange (NEE) show that the mesic site was a net carbon sink (NEE = −2.48 tonnes C ha−1), while intermediate and xeric sites were net carbon sources (NEE = 1.57 and 1.46 tonnes C ha−1, respectively), but when carbon losses due to fuel consumption were taken into account, all three sites were carbon sources (10.78, 7.95 and 9.69 tonnes C ha−1 at the mesic, intermediate and xeric sites, respectively). Nonetheless, rates of NEE returned to pre-fire levels 1–2 months following fire. Consumption of leaf area by prescribed fire was associated with reduction in NEE post-fire, and the system quickly recovered its carbon uptake ca