11 Works

Data from: Ecological opportunity drives individual dietary specialisation in leopards

Guy Balme, Nikki Le Roex, Matthew Rogan & Luke Hunter
1. Individual specialisation, when individuals exploit only a subset of resources utilised by the population, is a widespread phenomenon. It provides the basis for evolutionary diversification and can impact population and community dynamics. Both phenotypic traits and environmental conditions are predicted to influence individual specialisation; however, its adaptive consequences are poorly understood, particularly among large mammalian carnivores that play an important role in shaping ecosystems. 2. We used observations of 2960 kills made by 49...

Data from: Fenced and fragmented: conservation value of managed metapopulations

Susan M. Miller, Paulette Bloomer, Cindy K. Harper, Jennifer Hofmeyr & Paul J. Funston
Population fragmentation is threatening biodiversity worldwide. Species that once roamed vast areas are increasingly being conserved in small, isolated areas. Modern management approaches must adapt to ensure the continued survival and conservation value of these populations. In South Africa, a managed metapopulation approach has been adopted for several large carnivore species, all protected in isolated, relatively small, reserves that are fenced. As far as possible these approaches are based on natural metapopulation structures. In this...

Data from: Natural resistance to worms exacerbates bovine tuberculosis severity independently of worm coinfection

Vanessa Ezenwa, Sarah Budischak, Peter Buss, Mauricio Seguel, Gordon Luikart, Anna Jolles & Kaori Sakamoto
Pathogen interactions arising during coinfection can exacerbate disease severity, for example, when the immune response mounted against one pathogen negatively affects defense of another. It is also possible that host immune responses to a pathogen, shaped by historical evolutionary interactions between host and pathogen, may modify host immune defenses in ways that have repercussions for other pathogens. In this case, negative interactions between two pathogens could emerge even in the absence of concurrent infection. Parasitic...

Data from: Quantifying the environmental limits to fire spread in grassy ecosystems

Ann Carla Staver, Anabelle Cardoso, Sally Archibald, William Bond, Corli Coetsee, Matthew Forrest, Navashni Govender, David Lehmann, Loic Makaga, Nokukhanya Mpanza, Josue Edzang Ndong, Aurelie Koumba Pambo, Tercia Strydom, David Tilman & Peter Wragg
Modeling fire spread as an infection process is intuitive: an ignition lights a patch of fuel, which infects its neighbor, and so on. Infection models produce non-linear thresholds, whereby fire spreads only when fuel connectivity and infection probability are sufficiently high. These thresholds are fundamental both to managing fire and to theoretical models of fire spread, whereas applied fire models more often apply quasi-empirical approaches. Here, we resolve this tension by quantifying thresholds in fire...

Data: Drought and fire determine juvenile and adult woody diversity and dominance in a semi-arid African savanna

Felix Trotter, Caroline Lehmann, Jason Donaldson, Happy Mangena, Catherine Parr Parr & Sally Archibald
Aim: To understand how communities of adult and juvenile (seedlings and saplings) woody plants were impacted by fire and the 2014 – 2016 El Niño drought in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Methods: We used a landscape scale fire experiment spanning 2013-2019 in a semi-arid savanna in the central west of Kruger National Park (mean annual precipitation, 543 mm). Adult and juvenile woody species composition were recorded during and after the drought in 40 plots...

Data from: A synopsis of the genus Cypholoba Chaudoir (Coleoptera, Carabidae, Anthiini) known to occur in the Republic of South Africa

Jonathan R. Mawdsley, Terry L. Erwin, Hendrik Sithole, Alice S. Mawdsley, Jonathan Mawdsley, Terry Erwin & Alice Mawdsley
Nearly one third of the described species of Cypholoba Chaudoir (Coleoptera: Carabidae) are known to inhabit the Republic of South Africa. A key and diagnostic notes are provided for their identification, as well as notes about way of life for some of the species based on observations in the Kruger National Park. Fifteen species and subspecies of the genus are recorded from the Republic of South Africa; adult specimens of each species and subspecies are...

Data from: Water for African elephants (Loxodonta Africana): faecal microbial loads affect use of artificial waterholes

Mduduzi Ndlovu, Antón Pérez-Rodríguez, Emma Devereux, Miranda Thomas, Alfredo Colina & Linford Molaba
In semi-arid protected areas artificial waterholes ensure that water is locally available to animals for extended periods. However, artificial waterholes may limit animal movement, which contributes towards habitat deterioration. Challenges of artificial water provisioning worsen in the presence of ecosystem engineers like African elephants Loxodonta africana, capable of transforming environments. Camera traps were used to monitor elephant visitation at 21 artificial waterholes in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. We also assessed if water quality...

Repeated fire shifts carbon and nitrogen cycling by changing plant inputs and soil decomposition across ecosystems

Adam Francis Pellegrini, Sarah Hobbie, Peter Reich, Ari Jumpponen, Jack Brookshire, Anthony Caprio, Corli Coetsee & Robert Jackson
Fires shape the biogeochemistry and functioning of many ecosystems, and fire frequencies are changing across much of the globe. Frequent fires can change soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) storage by altering the quantity and chemistry of plant inputs through changes in plant biomass and composition as well as altering decomposition of soil organic matter. How decomposition rates change with shifting inputs remains uncertain because most studies focus on the effects of single fires, where...

Data from: Disease, predation and demography: assessing the impacts of bovine tuberculosis on African buffalo by monitoring at individual and population levels

P. C. Cross, D. M. Heisey, J. A. Bowers, C. T. Hay, J. Wolhuter, P. Buss, M. Hofmeyr, A. L. Michel, R. G. Bengis, T. L. F. Bird, J. T. Du Toit & W. M. Getz
1. Understanding the effects of disease is critical to determining appropriate management responses, but estimating those effects in wildlife species is challenging. We used bovine tuberculosis (BTB) in the African buffalo Syncerus caffer population of Kruger National Park, South Africa, as a case study to highlight the issues associated with estimating chronic disease effects in a long-lived host. 2. We used known and radiocollared buffalo, aerial census data, and a natural gradient in pathogen prevalence...

Data from: Compensatory life history responses of a mesopredator may undermine carnivore management efforts

Liaan Minnie, Angela Gaylard & Graham I. H. Kerley
Lethal carnivore management, aimed at reducing carnivore impacts, is a global phenomenon threatening the persistence of many carnivores. Black-backed jackals Canis mesomelas, the dominant cause of livestock predation in southern Africa, are widely hunted to reduce livestock predation. Despite centuries of lethal management, jackals persist. Smaller canids, like jackals, are highly adaptable and display variable responses to mortality sources, which may affect management outcomes. The effects of killing carnivores will depend on their behaviour, social...

Data from: Woody plant biomass and carbon exchange depend on elephant-fire interactions across a productivity gradient in African savanna

Adam F. A. Pellegrini, Robert M. Pringle, Navashni Govender, Lars O. Hedin & Lars. O. Hedin
Elephants and fire are individually well-known disturbance agents within savanna ecosystems, but their interactive role in governing tree-cover dynamics and savanna–forest biome boundaries remains unresolved. Of central importance are the mechanisms by which elephants vs. fire affect tree biomass and cover, and how – over long time periods – both factors interact with rainfall and soils to govern tree biomass and carbon dynamics. Here, we evaluated the response of woody vegetation to 56 years of...

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