Cross-boundary human impacts compromise the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem

Michiel P. Veldhuis, Mark E. Ritchie, Joseph O. Ogutu, Thomas A. Morrison, Colin M. Beale, Anna B. Estes, William Mwakilema, Gordon O. Ojwang, Catherine L. Parr, James Probert, Patrick W. Wargute, J. C. Grant Hopcraft, Han Olff

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41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Protected areas provide major benefits for humans in the form of ecosystem services, but landscape degradation by human activity at their edges may compromise their ecological functioning. Using multiple lines of evidence from 40 years of research in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, we find that such edge degradation has effectively “squeezed” wildlife into the core protected area and has altered the ecosystem’s dynamics even within this 40,000-square-kilometer ecosystem. This spatial cascade reduced resilience in the core and was mediated by the movement of grazers, which reduced grass fuel and fires, weakened the capacity of soils to sequester nutrients and carbon, and decreased the responsiveness of primary production to rainfall. Similar effects in other protected ecosystems worldwide may require rethinking of natural resource management outside protected areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1424-1428
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume363
Issue number6434
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 29 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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    Veldhuis, M. P., Ritchie, M. E., Ogutu, J. O., Morrison, T. A., Beale, C. M., Estes, A. B., Mwakilema, W., Ojwang, G. O., Parr, C. L., Probert, J., Wargute, P. W., Grant Hopcraft, J. C., & Olff, H. (2019). Cross-boundary human impacts compromise the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Science, 363(6434), 1424-1428. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aav0564