Conservation Ecology

Ecological legacy of a civil war

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Science  05 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6273, pp. 572-573
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6273.572-a

Decline of large mammals due to Mozambique's civil war has led to an increase in tree cover in Gorongosa National Park

PHOTO: © ARIADNE VAN ZANDBERGEN/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

The Mozambique civil war (1977–1992) changed the trajectory of ecological succession in the 3620-km2 Gorongosa National Park. During the civil war, the large mammalian herbivores characteristic of East African savannas were largely extirpated from the park, and this in turn has led to substantial changes in the park's vegetation. Using a combination of aerial and satellite imagery, coupled with limited ground-truthing, Daskin et al. show that tree cover in the park has increased by 34% over a 35-year period, most likely as a result of release from herbivore pressure rather than any changes in the physical environment. The recovery of herbivore populations may proceed more slowly in the presence of increased tree cover.

J. Ecol. 104, 19 (2016).

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