Cryptic Consumers and the Ecology of an African Savanna FELICIA KEESING ast African savannas have fascinated generations THE CASCADING EFFECTS OF UNGULATES Eof explorers, scientists, and the public. Nowhere else is there such a concentration and diversity of large, ON SMALL MAMMALS MAY HAVE PROFOUND charismatic animals, and nowhere else is ecology portrayed so dramatically. Spectacular migrations of a million IMPLICATIONS FOR ECOLOGICAL DYNAMICS wildebeest tracking the rains dominate the Serengeti-Mara IN EAST AFRICAN SAVANNAS ecosystem of Tanzania and Kenya (McNaughton 1976, Sinclair and Norton-Griffiths 1979, Sinclair and Arcese 1995). Lions and hyenas pursue gazelle, zebra, and buffalo in a conspicuous contest between predator and prey (Kruuk Africa (Taylor 1968, Fiedler 1988, Leirs 1995). Destruction 1972, Schaller 1972, Sinclair 1977). And giraffe and of crops and stores caused by hordes of rodents has repeat elephants shape the landscape by browsing and trampling edly inflicted heavy costs on humans. savanna trees (Cumming 1992, Dublin 1995). Population outbreaks of Arvicanthis and M. natalensis The abundance of so many large mammals in East around human settlements have been considered particu Africa has led to the assumption that interactions among larly problematic because these species are reservoirs for a these prominent animals dominate
BioScience – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2000
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