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Serengeti IVSustaining biodiversity in a coupled human-natural system$
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Anthony R. E. Sinclair, Kristine L. Metzger, Simon A. R. Mduma, and John M. Fryxell

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226195834

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226196336.001.0001

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Climate-Induced Effects on the Serengeti Mammalian Food Web

Climate-Induced Effects on the Serengeti Mammalian Food Web

Chapter:
(p.175) Seven Climate-Induced Effects on the Serengeti Mammalian Food Web
Source:
Serengeti IV
Author(s):

John M. Fryxell

Kristine L. Metzger

Craig Packer

Anthony R. E. Sinclair

Simon A. R. Mduma

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226196336.003.0007

Long-term data support the hypothesis that global variation in climate, as measured by SOI, has substantial effects on juvenile recruitment of wildebeest, topi, and lions in the Serengeti ecosystem, whereas the majority of herbivore species are apparently insensitive to SOI variation. This environmental variability perturbs these populations around their long-term means, particularly in El Nino or La Nina years. The effect of SOI is complex, with influences on a wide range of environmental variables, including temperature, rainfall, fire frequency, and grass growth. Of these factors, however, dry season rainfall seems to be of strongest impact on wildebeest, probably because survival during the dry season is highly dependent on adequate food supplies largely generated by dry season rain showers. There is some evidence that dry season rainfall may be increasing in Serengeti. If this trend were to continue, our data imply that wildebeest and topi recruitment should benefit, as would that of lions. This suggests that deeper appreciation of global controls on climate change may have important long-term implications for population abundance and persistence in the Serengeti ecosystem.

Keywords:   climatic effects, SOI, dry season rainfall, migratory movements, food web

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