Journal article

Observations on the natural history of a savanna drought

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Publication Details

Author list: Smit IPJ, Bond W.

Publisher: Co-published by National Inquiry Service Centre, Pty Ltd and Taylor and Francis

Publication year: 2020

Journal: African Journal of Range and Forage Science

Volume number: 37

Issue number: 1

Start page: 119

End page: 136

Total number of pages: 18

ISSN: 1022-0119

eISSN: 1727-9380


Drought studies are often opportunistic and post hoc, where a drought fortuitously occurs during a research project that was not specifically designed to study the drought, but where researchers capitalised on the opportunity. These studies often lack focus on formulating and studying ‘drought specific’ research questions. By learning from observations during droughts, research gaps can be identified and drought specific questions can be formulated to be tested during future droughts. Therefore, in order to get a more holistic view of the ecology of drought, and in order to assist in formulating drought-related questions and/or hypotheses and identifying research gaps, we collected and collated observations and reflections from >50 persons who have lived and/or worked extensively in the Kruger National Park (KNP) and surrounding areas during the 2015/2016 drought. Many ecological lessons, interesting ideas, valuable insights and truly remarkable natural history observations were harnessed from these observations. We summarise them here to help prepare scientists in framing ideas on the functioning and role of droughts, and in designing research in anticipation of future droughts. These observations are not only valuable for scientists, but also for management. We reflect on lessons learned from previous droughts that led to changed management approaches that made the system more resilient during the recent drought. Although studies that focus on specific aspects of droughts are critical to enhance our understanding of droughts, narrative papers like this that cover many scales, taxa and processes can contribute to a broader synthesis and integration.


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Last updated on 2021-17-03 at 11:34