Article

Long-term collapse in fruit availability threatens Central African forest megafauna

Citation

Bush ER, Whytock RC, Bahaa-el-din L, Bourgeois S, Bunnefeld N, Cardoso AW, Dikangadissi JT, Dimbonda P, Dimoto E, Edzang Ndong J, Jeffery KJ, Lehmann D, Makaga L, Momboua B, Momont LRW, Tutin CEG, White LJT, Whittaker A & Abernethy K (2020) Long-term collapse in fruit availability threatens Central African forest megafauna. Science, 370 (6521), pp. 1219-1222. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abc7791

Abstract
Afrotropical forests host many of the world’s remaining megafauna, but even here they are confined to areas where direct human influences are low. We use a rare long-term dataset of tree reproduction and a photographic database of forest elephants to assess food availability and body condition of an emblematic megafauna species at Lopé National Park, Gabon. We show an 81% decline in fruiting over a 32-year period (1986-2018) and an 11% decline in body condition of fruit-dependent forest elephants from 2008-2018. Fruit famine in one of the last strongholds for African forest elephants should raise concern for the ability of this species and other fruit-dependent megafauna to persist in the long-term, with consequences for broader ecosystem and biosphere functioning.

Journal
Science: Volume 370, Issue 6521

StatusPublished
FundersEuropean Research Council, The Gabonese National Park Agency, University of Oxford's Hertford College Mortimer-May Scholarship, The University of Stirling's Collaborative Impact Scholarship and EU 11eme FED ECOFAC6 programme in Gabon
Publication date04/12/2020
Publication date online24/09/2020
Date accepted by journal10/09/2020
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/31738
PublisherAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
ISSN0036-8075
eISSN1095-9203