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Dung fungi as indicators of past herbivore abundance, Kruger and Limpopo National Park
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, African and Comparative Archaeology. (Afrikansk och jämförande Arkeologi)
University of Cape Town, South Africa.
2010 (English)In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, ISSN 0031-0182, E-ISSN 1872-616X, Vol. 296, no 1-2, 14-27 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Effective wildlife management needs historical data on herbivore abundance and its interactions with vegetation, climate and disturbance over longer time periods than is available through observational and archive data. Spores specific to herbivore dung provide a potential source of information on past herbivore abundances. This paper sets out to evaluate the potential of fungal spores as environmental indicators and in particular the use of coprophilous fungi in understanding past herbivore densities and their impact on the savanna landscape of Kruger and Limpopo National Parks (South Africa and Mozambique). Spore assemblages from six sedimentary cores are analysed and compared with the pollen data. Spores of coprophilous fungi, Coniochaeta cf ligniaria, and Sordariaceae in particular provide a valuable source of information about past herbivore densities.  The spore assemblages of investigated localities show historical fluctuations in herbivore abundance. Peaks in wild/domestic herbivore densities can be seen, on a local scale from 800– 900 AD and another at 1400 AD, however, these cannot be linked with any significant changes in vegetation. The last 200-300 years have seen an increased abundance of herbivores in the Limpopo floodplain sites, particularly domestic cattle. There is no clear correspondence between changes in herbivore abundance and local vegetation in this period or the 20th century. However, domestic cattle, together with wild herbivores, probably contributed to creating a mosaic type of landscape with heterogeneous tree cover.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 296, no 1-2, 14-27 p.
Keyword [en]
coprophilous fungi, spores, pollen, herbivory, grazing, savanna dynamics
National Category
Research subject
Archaeology; Earth Science with specialization in Quaternary Geology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-128896DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.06.009ISI: 000282111900002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-128896DiVA: diva2:332075
Kruger environments
Available from: 2010-08-02 Created: 2010-08-02 Last updated: 2011-08-17Bibliographically approved

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