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The Serengeti squeeze: Cross-boundary human impacts compromise an iconic protected ecosystem

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  • Michiel P. Veldhuis
  • Mark E. Ritchie
  • Joseph O. Ogutu
  • Thomas A. Morrison
  • Colin Michael Beale
  • Ann B. Estes
  • William Mwakilema
  • Gordon O. Ojwang
  • Catherine L. Parr
  • James Probert
  • Patrick W. Wargute
  • J. Grant C. Hopcraft
  • Han Olff


Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 28 Feb 2019
DatePublished (current) - 29 Mar 2019
Issue number6434
Pages (from-to)1424–1428
Original languageEnglish


Protected areas provide major benefits for humans in the form of ecosystem services but landscape degradation by human activity at their edges may compromise their ecological functioning. Using multiple lines of evidence from 40 years of research in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, we find that such edge degradation has effectively “squeezed” wildlife into the core protected area and has altered the ecosystem’s dynamics even within this 40,000 km² ecosystem. This spatial cascade reduced resilience in the core and was mediated by the movement of grazers which reduced grass fuel and fires, weakened capacity of soils to sequester nutrients and carbon, and decreased responsiveness of primary production to rainfall. Similar effects in other protected ecosystems worldwide may require rethinking of natural resource management outside protected areas.

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© 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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