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Soil Factors Affecting the Distribution of the Grassland Types and their Utilization by Wild Animals on the Serengeti Plains, Tanganyika

G. D. Anderson and L. M. Talbot
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 53, No. 1 (Mar., 1965), pp. 33-56
DOI: 10.2307/2257564
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2257564
Page Count: 24
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Soil Factors Affecting the Distribution of the Grassland Types and their Utilization by Wild Animals on the Serengeti Plains, Tanganyika
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Abstract

The broad soil/vegetation associations on the Serengeti Plains of Tanganyika have been defined, and a sketch map of these presented (Fig. 1). In general pattern, the soil/vegetation associations form a gradient from east to west. Mean analytical data for widely distributed topsoils and for representative soil profiles are given. The soils, in the main, represent a lithosequence running roughly from east to west, but with parallel gradients in climate and time of formation also determining their nature. The chemical conditions prevailing in the soils have been explained in terms of the weathering/leaching ratios. Wind erosion and soil depth, texture and salt concentration, all of which affect moisture availability, largely determine the grassland patterns. Levels of available nitrogen, manganese, and magnesium may play a minor role. Variations in the vegetation pattern within a broad soil/grassland association can be explained either by burning and grazing patterns or more locally on the basis of the catena. It is unlikely that a nutrient factor is causing the seasonal preference of game for the shorter grassland areas, because nutrients are more available in the soils beneath the longer grassland types. Growth stage and palatability of the grasses, when water is available, are considered to be the most important factors, but the degree of soil poachability in the wet seasons also plays a part.

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