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Accueil du site → Master → Afrique du Sud → 2018 → The ecology of Impala (Aepyceros melampus) in a dystrophic system : a case study from Welgevonden Game Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Nelson Mandela University (2018)

The ecology of Impala (Aepyceros melampus) in a dystrophic system : a case study from Welgevonden Game Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Pieterse, Marilize

Titre : The ecology of Impala (Aepyceros melampus) in a dystrophic system : a case study from Welgevonden Game Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Auteur : Pieterse, Marilize

Université de soutenance : Nelson Mandela University

Grade : Master of Science in the Conservation Programme 2018

Résumé partiel
Impala (Aepyceros melampus) have been extensively researched and are known to flourish in Savanna ecosystems. They are a very adaptable species switching easily between grazing and browsing hence their classification as mixed feeders. However, little published research has been done on impala and their adaptability to sour nutrient-poor savannas. On Welgevonden Game Reserve (WGR), situated in the dystrophic Waterberg Mountain Range, impala have poor body condition and negative growth rates. Research shows that impala are on the threshold of being sexually dimorphic which can lead to a difference in the habitat selection and preference, diet composition and diet quality of adult male and female animals. This study served as a baseline study to understand the adaptability and ecology of impala in the Waterberg. The key research question was : How do male and female impala adapt to the area in terms of habitat selection and preference, and diet composition and quality, across the seasons of a year in the sour nutrient-poor Waterberg Mountain Range ? This was the first study on impala in the area that looked at all the above-mentioned factors. A combination of observational studies, for habitat selection and preference, and faecal analysis, for diet composition and diet quality (faecal Nitrogen (Nf) and Phosphorous (Pf)), were used. It should be noted that WGR received below average rainfall and above average maximum temperatures over the past seven years. Impala on WGR are limited by the availability of suitable habitat and the quantity and quality of forage. They therefore suffer from nutrient deficiency. Spatial and ecological segregation between male and female animals occurred due to differences in sexual status and the constraints associated with this. Overall, very little variation in habitat use occurred between Wet and Dry seasons, emphasizing limited suitable impala habitat. Impala on WGR showed a distinct preference and avoidance of different habitat types. Both male and female preferred Short Grassland throughout the year. This is the smallest habitat type on the reserve and is dominated by Cynodon dactylon, which mostly occurs in the low-lying areas of the reserve. Both male and female impala avoided Hill Slope and Long Grassland throughout the year. These habitat types are characterized by steep slopes, medium to extensive rock cover, long sparse grass and dense tree cover

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