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Title Rangeland degradation in arid savannas. Consequences for animal diversity

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Short title Savanna degradation and animal diversity

Author(s) Blaum, N.(1); Rossmanith, E.(1); Seymour, C.(2); Wasiolka, B.(1); Meyer, J.(3); Jeltsch, F.(1)

Presenting author Blaum, N.

Institution(s) (1) Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation, University of Potsdam; (2) Kirstenbosch Research Centre, South African National Biodiversity Institute; (3) Animal Ecology, University of Marburg

Keywords shrub encroachment; fragmentation; mammals; birds; reptiles

Abstract In recent decades, anthropogenic land use has led to substantial changes in savanna landscapes worldwide. In particular heavy grazing by livestock often results in shrub encroachment which modifies the structural diversity of the vegetation and landscape. Whereas the effects of shrub encroachment on plant diversity are well documented our understanding of how shrub encroachment influences animal diversity across trophic levels are poor. We present here four studies investigating possible negative and positive effects of shrubs as habitat structures for reptiles, rodents, birds and small carnivores in southern Kalahari savanna rangelands.

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