The savannah community and its conservation
This chapter looks at energy flow through the community (primary and secondary production) and food web dynamics. It includes a brief examination of the diversity-stability idea. A detailed flow diagram of the Serengeti ecosystem, along with modelling attempts on this system are examined. This dynamic, interacting web brings to light the importance of cascading interactions (e.g., rinderpest-wildebeest-green grass-dry grass-fire-trees-giraffes), and therefore the multiple interconnection of species. Mention is made of ‘keystone’ species. There is a section on ‘assembly rules’ for savannah communities, including body-size distributions for grazing and browsing ungulates. This section ends with an exploration of virtual island biogeography (protected areas) and the long-term predictions for species numbers. Can ideas from ‘island biogeography’ help us to design National Parks and Nature Reserves? This leads onto conservation issues. The conservation issues for savannahs centre around tourism, hunting (both for trophies and bush meat), and the conflicts between farmers/ranchers and wildlife. This chapter ends with an examination of these issues.
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