Spatio-temporal functional diversity of large herbivores in Mudumu National Park, northeastern Namibia
Keywords:dominant species, functional diversity, functional similarity, functional traits, large herbivores, Mudumu National Park, Namibia
Functional diversity is a component of biodiversity that includes the range of roles that organisms perform in communities and can explain and predict the impact of organisms on ecosystems. Mudumu National Park is an important ecosystem that acts as a wildlife corridor for migratory fauna moving between Botswana, Namibia, Angola and Zambia. Thus, a thorough understanding of the functional diversity of large herbivores would assist with the management of the park. The present study examined large herbivore species contribution to total large herbivore biomass; dominant species’ functional similarities; and whether or not functional diversity is affected by increasing distance from the Kwando River. A total of twenty-two roads were selected that provided good coverage of the park and were surveyed using the line transect distance sampling method. All large herbivores seen on either side of the transects were identified to species level and recorded. The hierarchical cluster analysis in SPSS was used to classify the herbivores into functional groups. Only a small number of species were found to be dominant in both numbers and biomass. Furthermore, dominant species were found to be functionally distinct, and functional dominance changed with respect to season and distance from the river.
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