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On-line version ISSN 2071-0771
Print version ISSN 0075-6458


WIGLEY-COETSEE, Corli et al. Reflecting on research produced after more than 60 years of exclosures in the Kruger National Park. Koedoe [online]. 2022, vol.64, n.1, pp.1-14. ISSN 2071-0771.

Herbivores are a main driver of ecosystem patterns and processes in semi-arid savannas, with their effects clearly observed when they are excluded from landscapes. Starting in the 1960s, various herbivore exclosures have been erected in the Kruger National Park (KNP), for research and management purposes. These exclosures vary from very small (1 m2) to relatively large (almost 900 ha), from short-term (single growing season) to long-term (e.g. some of the exclosures were erected more than 60 years ago), and are located on different geologies and across a rainfall gradient. We provide a summary of the history and specifications of various exclosures. This is followed by a systematic overview of mostly peer-reviewed literature resulting from using KNP exclosures as research sites. These 75 articles cover research on soils, vegetation dynamics, herbivore exclusion on other faunal groups and disease. We provide general patterns and mechanisms in a synthesis section, and end with recommendations to increase research outputs and productivity for future exclosure experiments. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Herbivore exclosures in the KNP have become global research platforms, that have helped in the training of ecologists, veterinarians and field biologists, and have provided valuable insights into savanna dynamics that would otherwise have been hard to gain. In an age of dwindling conservation funding, we make the case for the value added by exclosures and make recommendations for their continued use as learning tools in complex African savannas

Keywords : disease; fire; herbaceous layer; herbivory; plant productivity; savanna; species diversity.

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