Ecological cascading effects: an insight from elephant coarse woody debris in the Addo Elephant National Park

Nokubonga Mgqatsa

The present study seeks to investigate the cascading effects of elephants, focusing mainly on pushed over trees (hereafter referred as elephant coarse woody debris) in Kuzuko, section of Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. It is hypothesised that elephants will have potential impacts on microclimatic conditions, soil processes, plants and animals in Kuzuko. Therefore the impact of elephants on coarse woody debris production will be measured. Additionally, the influence of elephant coarse woody debris on microclimatic conditions, soil nutrients, plant community structure, wood dwelling invertebrates and herbivores will be investigated. Understanding the role of elephants on the production of coarse woody debris and their cascading effects should thus provide a useful framework for understanding the relationship between elephant modified habitats and, responses of abiotic components, plant species composition, and other animals.