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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Dynamics of the Serengeti-Mara woodlands: an historical perspective
Author:Dublin, H.T.
Periodical:Forest & Conservation History
Geographic terms:Kenya
Abstract:This paper takes a qualitative and quantitative look at vegetation changes in the Serengeti-Mara region on the border between Tanzania and Kenya over the past hundred years. It concentrates on the woodlands of the Masai Mara National Reserve. The evidence for this study comes from numerous sources such as archives, photographs and accounts for the period 1930-1960, and aerial photographs from the period 1950-1982. The qualitative evidence supports the hypothesis that the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem experienced major transitions over the period from 1880 to 1980. Significant areas of the region changed from grassland at the beginning of the century through woodland and back again to grassland by the 1980s. The first documented change, from grassland to woodland, is explained by a release from human, elephant, and other ecological factors that had held the region's vegetation in a grass-dominated phase previously. The shift from woodland back to grassland, which occurred in very recent times, is due to the combined effects of fire and elephants. The timing of woodland losses is quantitatively assessed, using a cover-density analysis of 'Acacia' woodlands and 'Croton' thickets. The study demonstrates that change is an integral part of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, and that this ecosystem is, in fact, dynamic. Ref.