Academic journal article Science and Children

A Look at African Wildlife 1,000 Years Ago

Academic journal article Science and Children

A Look at African Wildlife 1,000 Years Ago

Article excerpt

A team of local scientists has wound back the clock by 1,000 years to reconstruct wildlife populations across Africa.

Including animals in the study helps us better understand the ecology of Africa and ecosystems, says lead researcher Dr. Gareth Hempson.

"The problem is that in most places, natural wildlife populations are extinct," Hempson says. "The challenge that we took up was to try and bring them back."

Africa is the only place left where the researchers could conduct this study because there are fewer cases of extinction there, according to Hemp-son. There are many protected areas where animal populations are still intact in Africa.

The team focused on large mammal herbivores--plant-eating animals like antelope, zebra, elephants, rhinos, and pigs. These mammals form an integral level in the food pyramid, both consuming vegetation and being consumed by carnivores themselves. The researchers used wildlife census data to see how rainfall, soil fertility, and vegetation influenced different species. …

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