Predicted impact of barriers to migration on the Serengeti wildebeest population

Ricardo M. Holdo, John M. Fryxell, Anthony R.E. Sinclair, Andrew P. Dobson, Robert D. Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Serengeti wildebeest migration is a rare and spectacular example of a once-common biological phenomenon. A proposed road project threatens to bisect the Serengeti ecosystem and its integrity. The precautionary principle dictates that we consider the possible consequences of a road completely disrupting the migration. We used an existing spatiallyexplicit simulation model of wildebeest movement and population dynamics to explore how placing a barrier to migration across the proposed route (thus creating two disjoint but mobile subpopulations) might affect the long-term size of the wildebeest population. Our simulation results suggest that a barrier to migration-even without causing habitat loss- could cause the wildebeest population to decline by about a third. The driver of this decline is the effect of habitat fragmentation (even without habitat loss) on the ability of wildebeest to effectively track temporal shifts in high-quality forage resources across the landscape. Given the important role of the wildebeest migration for a number of key ecological processes, these findings have potentially important ramifications for ecosystem biodiversity, structure, and function in the Serengeti.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere16370
JournalPloS one
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Predicted impact of barriers to migration on the Serengeti wildebeest population'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this