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Propagation of Change through a Complex Ecosystem

Propagation of Change through a Complex Ecosystem

(p.417) Fourteen: Propagation of Change through a Complex Ecosystem
Serengeti III
Ray HilbornA. R. E. SinclairJohn M. Fryxell
University of Chicago Press

The Serengeti ecosystem is of special importance both because of the unusual diversity of wildlife, birds, and other taxa, and because it is one of the few large ecosystems that has been well studied, is largely unaltered by human agriculture and forestry, and has been subject to a wide range of perturbations. The perturbations are both natural and anthropogenic, and provide an opportunity to examine how naturally functioning ecosystems respond to both natural and direct human-induced perturbation. This chapter begins with a discussion of the major perturbations seen in the Serengeti. It then reviews the theories available to understand Serengeti dynamics, and specific models of components of the system. The uniqueness of the Serengeti is seen in the size and scale of the migration, the diversity of species, and the scale and diversity of the habitat, which remains in a wild state. None of the enormous natural and anthropogenic perturbations have significantly altered any of these three characteristics.

Keywords:   Serengeti ecosystem, habitat, anthropogenic perturbations, species diversity, migration

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