Research NewsEcology

Return of the Forest

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Science  19 Dec 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5346, pp. 2059
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5346.2059

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SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK, TANZANIA-- Back in 1980, when the acacia and bush forests of the Serengeti National Park were shrinking, ecologist A.R.E. Sinclair tried to take notes on the "last tree in the Serengeti." The forest decline had been going on since before Sinclair started working in the park in 1965--and elephants were held responsible. But now, Sinclair's long-term monitoring of the park's ecosystem (see main text) has persuaded him that rather than having a single cause, such changes are driven by complex interactions among such factors as the life-span of acacia trees, the numbers of wildebeest, and the influence of humans.