Hierarchical foraging by giraffe in a heterogeneous savannah, Tanzania
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionMahenya, O., Mathisen, K. M., Andreassen, H. P., & Skarpe, C. (2016). Hierarchical foraging by giraffe in a heterogeneous savannah, Tanzania. African Journal of Ecology, 54(2), 136-145. doi: 10.1111/aje.12270
Understanding foraging decisions made by wildlife at different spatio-temporal scales is important for wildlife management and conservation. We tested whether forag- ing decisions by Masai giraffe ( Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi Matschie) differed with scales; habitat, patch and tree in a heterogeneous savannah. We collected data from Arusha National Park, Tanzania, in March – May and August – October 2013. Visual observations were used to collect data on foraging behaviour. Measurements of tree height and stem height and scoring of accumulated browsing were made in 133 patches around trees where the giraffes had been seen browsing, and in a correspond- ing number of available patches. Giraffes selected Acacia shrub and Dodonea shrub habitats but not for water availability or predator avoidance. For patch use, giraffe selected high quantity of Acacia xanthophloea and Dodonea viscosa. Between plant species, A. xanthophloea was the most preferred and within plant species, tree quality was enhanced by tree height and high score of accumulated browsing. Generally, giraffes selected for A. xanthophloea at all scales.