Guelph, Canada (SPX) Feb 04, 2011
Building a highway through Serengeti National Park may devastate one of the world's last large-scale herd migrations and the region's ecosystem, according to new research by an international team of ecologists, including a University of Guelph professor.
The study by John Fryxell, a Guelph integrative biology professor, and four other scientists from the United States and Canada appears in a recent issue of PLoS ONE, a peer-reviewed international journal published by the Public Library of Science.
The researchers studied the effects of a proposal by the Tanzanian government to build a road that would bisect the northern portion of Serengeti National Park.
The Serengeti is one of few remaining places where large-scale migrations still occur, with nearly two million wildebeest, antelope and zebras looping the plains from Tanzania to Kenya and back each year.
The researchers found that the road may cause a 35-per-cent reduction in wildebeest herds, plus direct and indirect effects on many other species and ecosystem processes.
The study did not consider other potential negative effects, such as car accidents, development or increased poaching, which would reduce herd numbers even further.
"This project has the potential to transform one of the greatest wonders in the world and one of the world's most iconic national parks," said Fryxell, who worked on the study with lead author Ricardo Holdo from the University of Missouri and professors from the University of British Columbia, Princeton University and the University of Florida.
The researchers used simulation models of wildebeest movement and population dynamics to predict the effects of the proposed highway, which could block the northern part of the migration route and access to water in the dry season.
Fryxell said that fragmenting the landscape disrupts movement patterns and the wildebeest's ability to track changes in forage resources across the landscape. The effect would be a one-third reduction in herd size.
"The wildebeest migration plays an important role in a number of key ecological processes, so this finding has important ramifications for ecosystem biodiversity, structure and function," Fryxell said.
Fryxell has studied migration for more than 30 years. Last fall, his research was featured in National Geographic's epic Great Migrations. The seven-part series took three years to produce and was filmed in 20 countries on all seven continents. Fryxell appeared in a segment on the science of migration that included his extensive footage shot in the Serengeti.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
University of Guelph
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food
Johannesburg (AFP) Feb 3, 2011
South Africa's advertising authority on Thursday ordered a Nigerian church to stop making claims on national television that it can treat diseases such AIDS through faith healing. The ruling was made after anti-AIDS campaigners filed a complaint against Christ Embassy, a charismatic church based in Nigeria, which has paid-for programmes on the private e.tv channel on Sunday mornings featurin ... read more
Australia sends in troops after mega-cyclone|
Australia flags taxpayer levy for floods
Cyclone Yasi may cost Australia $5 billion: group
'Worst-case' plan saved Australians: officials
Verizon reins in data hogs before unleashing iPhone
New York Times net profit dips 26 percent
A Cool Way To Make Glass
85 percent of US adults own cellphone: survey
Strange floating 'blob' found off Florida
Cyclone adds to Barrier Reef's flood woes
Tropical Atlantic Sees Weaker Trade Winds And More Rainfall
Ocean Fertilization: Summary For Policymakers
VIMS Team Glides Into Polar Research
Greens: Alaska oil delay a win for polar bears
'Hidden Plumbing' Helps Slow Greenland Ice Flow
Study alters Greenland glacier melt view
Philippines rice 2010 farm output hit by weather
Toward Controlling Fungus That Caused Irish Potato Famine
Tiger mauls Indonesian plantation worker to death
UN hopes for fast ratification of biodiversity treaty
Torrential downpours pile misery on Australia
One million Sri Lankans hit by floods, 14 dead
Devastation at epicentre of Australian mega-cyclone
6.4-magnitude quake rocks India-Myanmar border
African nations ride the possibilities of bamboo bikes
Road May Disrupt Migration And Ruin Serengeti
Mutiny by south Sudan ex-militiamen kills 20: army
Suriname president swears-in new army chief
New Age Researchers Highlight How Man Is Changing The World
Mathematical Model Explains How Complex Societies Emerge And Collapse
U.N.: World population rate must slow
'Tsunami' of obesity worldwide: study
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|