Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Temporal dynamics of dry-season water-hole use by large African herbivores in two years of contrasting rainfall in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

  • Marion Valeix (a1)

As the dry season progresses in arid and semi-arid ecosystems, rain-fed surface water sources become depleted, forcing most animals to concentrate in the immediate vicinity of the few remaining permanent sources of drinking water. This study investigates the temporal dynamics of use of water-holes by nine African large-herbivore species in the dry season in the semi-arid savanna of Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, and particularly how annual rainfall influences this temporal dynamics. Two contrasting years in terms of annual rainfall were compared: 2003 (a drought – 362.6 mm) and 2004 (average rainfall – 695.8 mm). In 2003, water-holes were used far more intensively and the level of aggregation of herbivores at water-holes was significantly higher. The temporal dynamics of water-hole use in the dry season differed between the two years: in 2003, the peak of water-hole use started much earlier and lasted 3 mo. Elephants and grazers showed the largest difference in use of water-holes between 2003 and 2004 supporting the suggestion that browsers are less water dependent. This study suggests that annual rainfall should be taken into account when predicting the peak of the dry season.

Corresponding author
Hide All
B. T. GRENFELL & A. P. DOBSON 1995. Ecology of infectious diseases in natural populations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 521 pp.

N. OWEN-SMITH 1988. Megaherbivores: the influence of very large body size on ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 369 pp.

N. OWEN-SMITH 2002. Adaptive herbivore ecology: from resources to populations in variable environments. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 374 pp.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-tropical-ecology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 48 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 174 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.