Organization: University of Florida
Location: Southern Africa
Research: Elephant Conservation in Southern Africa
Abstract: Southern Africa is home to the world's largest population of African elephants. While this natural treasure serves as the basis for a booming tourism industry, generating jobs and revenue for local communities, the over 200,000 elephants are also a source of human-wildlife conflict and preliminary research suggests elephants are affecting other large mammals, threatening the area's ecological integrity. There is a dire need to understand the impact of increasing densities of elephants on species diversity. This project will investigate the applicability of the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis to elephants and other large mammals by quantifying patterns of species diversity across a range of elephant densities and analyzing species interactions to investigate biotic mechanisms underlying diversity trends. A better understanding of the influence of elephants on other species will enable more effective management decisions in an area where biodiversity conservation is essential for economic growth and local livelihoods.