Relevance of elephant herbivory as a threat to Important Plants in the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

M. Landman, G. I. H. Kerley, DS SCHOEMAN

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    39 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Although elephants are recognized as keystone species, the mechanisms of their impacts on biodiversity and community structure are rarely identified. In the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), South Africa, elephant Loxodonta africana herbivory is apparently responsible for a significant reduction in plant richness, especially among the regionally rare and endemic small succulent shrubs and geophytes (Important Plants). We used faecal analysis to investigate the utilization of Important Plants in elephant diet in the AENP. Ninety plant species were identified in the diet. Only 14 of the 77 (c. 18%) Important Plants previously thought particularly vulnerable to elephant browsing occurred in the diet, while at least 6% of species for which there are data were avoided. This refutes the generally held belief that elephant herbivory is the major driver of decline among Important Plants, and emphasizes the likely contribution of other mechanisms (e.g. knock-on effects, trampling, zoochory, etc.) to this phenomenon. The accurate prediction of impacts caused by elephants in the AENP and elsewhere, therefore requires an understanding of these previously marginalized mechanisms. By demonstrating appropriate cause-and-effect relationships between elephants and ecosystem change, we will be able to move beyond assuming that all the observed changes are due to elephant herbivory.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages51-58
    JournalJournal of Zoology
    Volume274
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008

    Fingerprint

    Elephantidae
    national parks
    herbivores
    South Africa
    diet
    keystone species
    Loxodonta africana
    browsing
    community structure
    shrubs
    biodiversity

    Cite this

    Landman, M. ; Kerley, G. I. H. ; SCHOEMAN, DS. / Relevance of elephant herbivory as a threat to Important Plants in the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. In: Journal of Zoology. 2008 ; Vol. 274, No. 1. pp. 51-58.
    @article{18b0bd01a18345aaa1ff95ee4fc509e5,
    title = "Relevance of elephant herbivory as a threat to Important Plants in the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa",
    abstract = "Although elephants are recognized as keystone species, the mechanisms of their impacts on biodiversity and community structure are rarely identified. In the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), South Africa, elephant Loxodonta africana herbivory is apparently responsible for a significant reduction in plant richness, especially among the regionally rare and endemic small succulent shrubs and geophytes (Important Plants). We used faecal analysis to investigate the utilization of Important Plants in elephant diet in the AENP. Ninety plant species were identified in the diet. Only 14 of the 77 (c. 18{\%}) Important Plants previously thought particularly vulnerable to elephant browsing occurred in the diet, while at least 6{\%} of species for which there are data were avoided. This refutes the generally held belief that elephant herbivory is the major driver of decline among Important Plants, and emphasizes the likely contribution of other mechanisms (e.g. knock-on effects, trampling, zoochory, etc.) to this phenomenon. The accurate prediction of impacts caused by elephants in the AENP and elsewhere, therefore requires an understanding of these previously marginalized mechanisms. By demonstrating appropriate cause-and-effect relationships between elephants and ecosystem change, we will be able to move beyond assuming that all the observed changes are due to elephant herbivory.",
    author = "M. Landman and Kerley, {G. I. H.} and DS SCHOEMAN",
    year = "2008",
    month = "1",
    doi = "10.1111/j.1469-7998.2007.00356.x",
    language = "English",
    volume = "274",
    pages = "51--58",
    journal = "Journal of Zoology",
    issn = "0952-8369",
    number = "1",

    }

    Relevance of elephant herbivory as a threat to Important Plants in the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. / Landman, M.; Kerley, G. I. H.; SCHOEMAN, DS.

    In: Journal of Zoology, Vol. 274, No. 1, 01.2008, p. 51-58.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Relevance of elephant herbivory as a threat to Important Plants in the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

    AU - Landman, M.

    AU - Kerley, G. I. H.

    AU - SCHOEMAN, DS

    PY - 2008/1

    Y1 - 2008/1

    N2 - Although elephants are recognized as keystone species, the mechanisms of their impacts on biodiversity and community structure are rarely identified. In the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), South Africa, elephant Loxodonta africana herbivory is apparently responsible for a significant reduction in plant richness, especially among the regionally rare and endemic small succulent shrubs and geophytes (Important Plants). We used faecal analysis to investigate the utilization of Important Plants in elephant diet in the AENP. Ninety plant species were identified in the diet. Only 14 of the 77 (c. 18%) Important Plants previously thought particularly vulnerable to elephant browsing occurred in the diet, while at least 6% of species for which there are data were avoided. This refutes the generally held belief that elephant herbivory is the major driver of decline among Important Plants, and emphasizes the likely contribution of other mechanisms (e.g. knock-on effects, trampling, zoochory, etc.) to this phenomenon. The accurate prediction of impacts caused by elephants in the AENP and elsewhere, therefore requires an understanding of these previously marginalized mechanisms. By demonstrating appropriate cause-and-effect relationships between elephants and ecosystem change, we will be able to move beyond assuming that all the observed changes are due to elephant herbivory.

    AB - Although elephants are recognized as keystone species, the mechanisms of their impacts on biodiversity and community structure are rarely identified. In the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), South Africa, elephant Loxodonta africana herbivory is apparently responsible for a significant reduction in plant richness, especially among the regionally rare and endemic small succulent shrubs and geophytes (Important Plants). We used faecal analysis to investigate the utilization of Important Plants in elephant diet in the AENP. Ninety plant species were identified in the diet. Only 14 of the 77 (c. 18%) Important Plants previously thought particularly vulnerable to elephant browsing occurred in the diet, while at least 6% of species for which there are data were avoided. This refutes the generally held belief that elephant herbivory is the major driver of decline among Important Plants, and emphasizes the likely contribution of other mechanisms (e.g. knock-on effects, trampling, zoochory, etc.) to this phenomenon. The accurate prediction of impacts caused by elephants in the AENP and elsewhere, therefore requires an understanding of these previously marginalized mechanisms. By demonstrating appropriate cause-and-effect relationships between elephants and ecosystem change, we will be able to move beyond assuming that all the observed changes are due to elephant herbivory.

    U2 - 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2007.00356.x

    DO - 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2007.00356.x

    M3 - Article

    VL - 274

    SP - 51

    EP - 58

    JO - Journal of Zoology

    T2 - Journal of Zoology

    JF - Journal of Zoology

    SN - 0952-8369

    IS - 1

    ER -