Consequences of human land use for an afro-alpine ecological community in Ethiopia
Ashenafi Z., Leader-Williams N., Coulson T.
The Guassa area of Menz in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia is an Afro-alpine ecological community with an indigenous resource management system. The local community harvest different resources including collecting grass and firewood from the Guassa area. Cattle and other livestock are also grazed in the Guassa area, especially during the dry season. Several sympatric species of endemic rodents dominate the small mammal ecological communities in the Guassa area, and form most of the diet of the endangered Ethiopian wolf. This study aimed to determine if current levels of resource use by the local community through the indigenous resource management system had any discernible effect on rodent community structure. We found that the structure of the rodent community differs between habitat types, and that different species of rodents show diurnal variations in their patterns of activity. We also found that populations of different species show variable responses to each type of resource use in different habitats; some species show increases in abundance in relation to use while others show decreases. Although the indigenous resource management system was not specifically designed to conserve wildlife, it has nevertheless allowed wildlife, specifically small mammals or rodent communities, to co-exist alongside the ongoing resource use by the local community. We conclude the Guassa area represents an interesting model of community-led resource management of an Afro-alpine habitat which supports populations of endemic and threatened species. © 2012 Ashenafi et al.