loading page

Anthropogenic and climatic drivers of population densities in an African savanna ungulate community
  • +1
  • Lukas Bierhoff,
  • Monica Bond,
  • Arpat Ozgul,
  • Derek Lee
Lukas Bierhoff
University of Zurich
Author Profile
Monica Bond
University of Zurich
Author Profile
Arpat Ozgul
University of Zurich
Author Profile
Derek Lee
Pennsylvania State University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile


Many ungulate species in Africa range in habitats that vary in type and quality over space and time, but ongoing environmental change is substantially altering their habitats. Identifying key environmental variables that regulate ungulate population densities can guide management actions for effective conservation. We studied the local population density responses of a community of sympatric ungulate species in the Tarangire Ecosystem of northern Tanzania, to a suite of environmental factors that vary over space and time, to quantify population trends, determine the primary environmental correlates of densities, and identify covariation in densities among species. We estimated seasonal densities of five commonly detected species (impala, dik-dik, Grant’s gazelle, eland, and waterbuck) based on 7 years of distance-sampling data from 41 replicate surveys of 237 line transects. We systematically analyzed the effects of spatial, seasonal, and annual environmental covariates on variation in transect species-specific densities across space and time. Despite large fluctuations in climatic factors, we documented more spatial than temporal variation in four of the five species, suggesting that spatial heterogeneity may provide some buffer against temporal variation in the environment. Protection of sufficient habitats and water sources should allow ungulates to respond to a temporally changing world by moving across space. Further, among-species covariation patterns identified two potential ungulate guilds (impala—dik-dik—waterbuck; eland—grant’s gazelle) that should aid in developing efficient and coordinated management actions.
29 May 2023Submitted to Population Ecology
31 May 2023Assigned to Editor
31 May 2023Submission Checks Completed
31 May 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
31 May 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
14 Jul 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor