Nutrient hotspots and pastoral legacies in East African savannas


Negative impacts of pastoralists on African savannas have been debated but creation of nutrient hotspots may have significant positive effects. African savanna productivity is largely nutrient limited, however, ecologists show corrals in abandoned Maasai pastoral settlements have high nitrogen and phosphate levels, and distinctive vegetation and grazing successions. Such hotspots may drive ecosystem structure and function, but little is known about how long-term or how widespread they may be. Two newly discovered Elmenteitan sites, Oloika 1, Oloika 2 and the Savanna Pastoral Neolithic sites of Indapi Dapo in SW Kenya and GvJm 44 at Lukenya Hill, revealed distinctive archaeological sequences, dung and offsite profiles. Nitrogen and carbon isotopic analyses are still ongoing but suggest long tem nutrient enrichment. Repeated visits of herders and wildlife to ancient pastoral camps results the creation of distinctive anthropogenic landscapes in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem and other African savannas.

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Cite this Record

Nutrient hotspots and pastoral legacies in East African savannas. Stanley Ambrose, Fiona Marshall, Steven Goldstein. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395771)


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min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;