A quantitative study of the ecology of the Serengeti short grasslands

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University of Dar es Salaam
Most of the early research conducted within the Serengeti Ecosystem concentrated on large mammals and little work was done on the vegetation. The little study on the vegetation emphasized the vegetation as a source of food for the large mammals without considering the structure and function of the vegetation itself. This study therefore provides a quantitative investigation of the gross structure composition and function of the Serengeti short grasslands. The structural and functional properties of the Serengeti short grasslands were studied and characterized. Salinity, alkalinity and pH were found to be important soil factors which influenced the structure and composition of the grasslands. The distribution of the soil factors was in turn controlled by topography. Four grassland types and sixteen species types were recognized. The major findings were as follows: (i) The Serengeti short grasslands have developed in an environment characterized by erratic and unpredictable rainfall. Soil forming processes were therefore hampered, leading to the poorly developed soils. (ii) The Serengeti short grasslands developed on gently undulating plains with low landscape diversity, which supports a relatively low species diversity. (iii) The drainage basins, with relatively high species diversity, seem to be important in the context of grassland stability. (iv) The contagious distribution of species suggests a considerable amount of pattern diversity within these grasslands. The author finally concludes that the Serengeti short grasslands represent a floristic and functional continuous in of intergrading composition, biomass, diversity and productivity. These properties are in turn closely interrelated to herbivorous and the physical environment through complex feedback loops which have been operating over the long co-evolutionary history.
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Grasses, Tanzania, Serengeti National Park, Grasslands
Banyikwa, F.F (1976) A quantitative study of the ecology of the Serengeti short grasslands, PhD dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (