Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Vegetation structure and ungulate abundance over a period of increasing elephant abundance in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

  • Marion Valeix (a1) (a2), Hervé Fritz (a1), Ségolène Dubois (a2), Kwanele Kanengoni (a3), Samuel Alleaume (a4) and Sonia Saïd (a5)...

This study investigates whether increases in elephant populations may influence the structure of African savannas, and consequently may affect other herbivores through changes in habitats. Two contrasting periods in terms of elephant population densities were compared in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe: the early 1980s and the late 1990s. Elephant population density and other ungulate population densities were estimated for a c. 400-km2 area from road counts. Vegetation structure at the landscape scale was assessed using aerial photographs for the same area. All browsers and grazers declined between the early 1980s and the late 1990s, whereas elephants experienced a 16-fold increase. At the landscape scale, vegetation structure changed little with no evidence of an opening of the habitats. These results do not support any kind of medium-term facilitation between elephants and other herbivores. They rather suggest a negative effect of elephants on other herbivore species when elephants are present at high densities. This study rules out a scenario where the decrease of the different herbivore populations was caused by large changes in vegetation structure due to elephant activity.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author. Email:
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: 0
Total number of PDF views: 25 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 205 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.