Predicted Impact of Barriers to Migration on the Serengeti Wildebeest Population

Este es un buen ejemplo de cómo las decisiones políticas frecuentemente entran en conflicto con la ciencia y la conservación de las especies.

Holdo, R. M., Fryxell, J. M., Sinclair, A. R. E., Dobson, A., Holt, R. D. 2011 Predicted Impact of Barriers to Migration on the Serengeti Wildebeest Population. PLoS ONE. 6, e16370.

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 spatially-explicit 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.


Acerca de Francisco Javier Diego-Rasilla

Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. Enjoy teaching and making science. Ongoing research: reptile and amphibian conservation, behavioural studies of amphibians and reptiles, orientation behaviour, magnetic cues in orientation,...
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