Title

The functional ecology of grazing lawns: How grazers, termites, people and fire shape HiP's Savanna grassland Mosaic

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Place of Publication

Cambridge

Editor(s)

Cromsigt, J., Archibald, S., & Owen-Smith, R.

School

School of Science

RAS ID

26076

Comments

Originally published as: Cromsigt, J. P., Veldhuis, M. P., Stock, W.D., Le Roux, E., Gosling, C. M., & Archibald, S. (2017) The functional ecology of grazing lawns: How grazers, termites, people and fire shape HiP's Savanna grassland Mosaic. In Cromsigt, J., Archibald, S., & Owen-Smith, R. (Eds.). Conserving Africa's mega-diversity in the anthropocene : The Hluhluwe-IMfolozi park story (Ecology, biodiversity and conservation) (pp. 135-160). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Original chapter available here

Abstract

The grasslands of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) are highly heterogeneous, both in tern1s of their species c0111position and their structure. Grazing lawns are a particularly striking feature of this heterogeneity (Figure 6 .1). These grazing lawns are short, repeatedly grazed grassland patches ranging in size fr0111 several square n1etres to a few hectares. These patches consist of grass species that grow in a prostrate fonn with a high leaf to sten1 ratio.Back in 1960, Vesey-Fitzgerald (1960) had already noted how the effects of grazing and trampling by various-sized ungulates 111aintained floodplain grasses in a short and actively growing condition and how bohor reedbuck Redunca redu11ca grazed on these 'short-grass lawns' in the Rukwa Valley in Tanzania. Olivier and Laurie (1974) used the ten11 'grazing lawn' for grasslands in1pacted by hippo grazing along the Mara river in the Maasai Mara National Park. Around the san1e ti111e, sin1ilar short grasslands pron1oted by heavy grazing and preferred by shortgrass grazers such as blue wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus, hippopotan1us Hippopotamus amplzibius, and warthog Phacoclwerus africanus were described by others (Bell, 1971;Lock, 1972;Eltringhan1, 1974).

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