Title page for ETD etd-12142011-113304


Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Bigwood, Taryn
Email taryn@isimangaliso.com
URN etd-12142011-113304
Document Title Geomorphic impacts of Loxodonta Africana (African elephants) in Tembe Elephant Park
Degree Master of Arts
Department Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology
Supervisor
Advisor Name Title
Dr K F Mearns Co-Supervisor
Prof P D Sumner Supervisor
Keywords
  • Maputaland
  • sand forest
  • Tembe Elephant Park
  • TEP
  • zoogeomorphology
  • geomorphology
  • pH
  • electric conductivity
  • wallow
  • soil
  • elephants
Date 2011-09-08
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Humans are modifying animal populations, indirectly accelerating or reducing the geomorphic alterations caused by animals. Species have been monitored and studied with focus on domesticated animals but little research has been undertaken on wild animals. This study analyses the geomorphic impact of elephants on Tembe Elephant Park, so that the changes they cause to the landscape may be quantified. To conduct this research four sites were chosen: an area where elephants had been excluded for twenty-five years, where excluded for five years, where elephants exist at present and where elephants mud wallow. Three of the four study sites were classed as sand forest (twenty-five-years exclusion, five-years exclusion and where elephants exist) and were analysed and compared to determine the similarities and differences in climate, microclimate, vegetation and the soilís physical and chemical properties. The wallow site was not compared to any other study site, but was observed and mapped to quantify the geomorphic impact of elephants wallowing. When the sand forest sites were compared the climate, vegetation type and soil were found to be similar. Where elephants were present: the vegetation was inconsistent in basil cover, canopy height, structure and class. Soils were more compacted with a low infiltration rate, higher temperature, lower soil moisture, higher pH and a lower electric conductivity and air relative humidity was the highest. Where elephants have been excluded for twenty-five years, the opposite trends arose from the data analysis. The vegetation was consistent in basil cover, canopy height, structure and class, and the soils were less compacted with a high infiltration rate, low temperature, higher soil moisture, lower pH and a higher electric conductivity. The microclimate showed a trend where the air relative humidity was the lowest. At the elephant wallow site data showed that the wallows were in general circular in shape, 52.5m3 of soil was removed per month for the last nine months and the surface area of the wallows increased by 165.5m2 per month for nine months from April to December 2008. All the results from this study show that the elephant activity in Tembe Elephant Park has geomorphic consequences. From the results, it is possible to conclude that the geomorphic impacts of elephants on Tembe Elephant Park are contributing to a nutrient cycle shift in the sand forest biome, as they change aspects of the vegetation, microclimate, soil and landscape, which are the foundation of the cycle.

© 2011, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Bigwood, T 2011, Geomorphic impacts of Loxodonta Africana (African elephants) in Tembe Elephant Park, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-12142011-113304 / >

E11/9/313/gm

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