Research NewsEcology

Counting Creatures of the Serengeti, Great and Small

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Science  19 Dec 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5346, pp. 2058-2060
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5346.2058

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Summary

SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK, TANZANIA-- Most scientific research in these famed East African plains has focused on grassland plants and the "glamour" animals--lions, rhinos, buffaloes, and cheetahs. But this work has not been comprehensive enough, and experts are now saying that it's time to pay attention to the other creatures of the park--the smaller mammals, birds, and insects--and their diverse habitats. With a small grant from the National Sciences and Engineering Council in Canada, the researcher whom others sometimes call "Mr. Serengeti" has just launched the first systematic biodiversity study of the park to answer such questions as why riverine forests are shrinking--whether it's part of a natural cycle, or due to human influence. Armed with new--if meager--funds from government research agencies, scientists worldwide are setting out on similar surveying missions in key areas.