Thursday, 22 October 2015

In dryland African regions, limiting wildlife water access can reduce water quality

Date:October 13, 2015
Source:Virginia Tech

Water-dependent wildlife populations in sensitive African dryland regions need continued access to limited surface water resources -- even as human development increases in these areas -- because restricting access and concentrating wildlife populations along riparian regions can impact water quality and, potentially, human health, according to Virginia Tech research published this week in the journal PLOS ONE.

While concentrated wildlife can be a boon for ecotourism operations, there can be substantial environmental impacts.

"Loss of habitat and limitation of wildlife access to rivers and floodplains in water-restricted regions may increase the impact of species on surface water resources," said first author J. Tyler Fox of Charlotte, North Carolina, a wildlife conservation doctoral student in the College of Natural Resources and Environment.

"Our findings have important implications to land-use planning in southern Africa's dryland river ecosystems," said corresponding author Kathleen Alexander, associate professor of fish and wildlife conservation in the college and a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate. "Maintaining sufficient access for water-dependent wildlife along riparian areas in dryland regions may not only be part of a sustainable conservation strategy, but may also be important for securing clean water and improved human health."

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