NCEAS Project 4180

Serengeti: The origins and future of a complex ecosystem

  • Craig Packer
  • Stephen Polasky

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group11th—16th October 2001Participant List  
Graduate Student1st January—31st May 2002Participant List  
Working Group26th September—3rd October 2002Participant List  

Members Only Area

The Serengeti ecosystem exemplifies a number of general features of terrestrial food web dynamics and can therefore be viewed as a model system for studying a complex interplay of basic ecological principles. These include: (1) the diverse roles of generalist top predators in governing coexistence in prey communities, (2) the importance of omnivory and intraguild predation in modulating the magnitude of 'top-down' impacts of predators, (3) trophic cascades; (4) the implications of movement, landscape pattern, and spatial heterogeneity for food web dynamics, and, (5) the impact of temporal variation on stability and species composition of local communities. The Serengeti, like many ecosystems, is subject to increasing human use. Understanding human behavior and the links between humans and the ecosystem provides a necessary foundation for conservation.

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Dobson, Andrew P. 2009. Food-web structure and ecosystem services: Insights from the Serengeti. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Vol: 364. Pages 1665-1682. (Online version)
Journal Article Fryxell, John M.; Wilmshurst, John F.; Sinclair, Anthony R. E. 2004. Predictive models of movement by Serengeti grazers. Ecology. Vol: 85(9). Pages 2429-2435.
Journal Article Fryxell, John M.; Wilmshurst, John F.; Sinclair, Anthony R. E.; Haydon, Daniel T.; Holt, Robert D.; Abrams, Peter A. 2005. Landscape scale, heterogeneity, and the viability of Serengeti grazers. Ecology Letters. Vol: 8(3). Pages 328-335.
Journal Article Holdo, Ricardo M.; Holt, Robert D.; Fryxell, John M. 2009. Opposing rainfall and plant nutritional gradients best explain the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti. American Naturalist. Vol: 173(4). Pages 431-445. (Online version)
Journal Article Packer, Craig; Hilborn, Ray; Mosser, Anna; Kissui, Bernard; Borner, Markus; Hopcraft, Grant; Wilmshurst, John F.; Mduma, Simon A. R.; Sinclair, Anthony R. E. 2005. Ecological change, group territoriality, and population dynamics in Serengeti lions. Science. Vol: 307. Pages 390-393.
Data Set Packer, Craig; Mduma, Simon A. R.; Coughenour, Michael B.; Ritchie, Mark. 2006. Serengeti ecosystem. (Abstract) (Online version)