Spatiotemporal Patterns and Drivers of Surface Water Quality and Landscape Change in a Semi-Arid, Southern African Savanna
Fox, John Tyler
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The savannas of southern Africa are a highly variable and globally-important biome supporting rapidly-expanding human populations, along with one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the continent. Savannas occupy a fifth of the earth's land surface, yet despite their ecological and economic significance, understanding of the complex couplings and feedbacks that drive spatiotemporal patterns of change are lacking. In Chapter 1 of my dissertation, I discuss some of the different theoretical frameworks used to understand complex and dynamic changes in savanna structure and composition. In Chapter 2, I evaluate spatial drivers of water quality declines in the Chobe River using spatiotemporal and geostatistical modeling of time series data collected along a transect spanning a mosaic of protected, urban, and developing urban land use. Chapter 3 explores the complex couplings and feedbacks that drive spatiotemporal patterns of land cover (LC) change across the Chobe District, with a particular focus on climate, fire, herbivory, and anthropogenic disturbance. In Chapter 4, I evaluated the utility of Distance sampling methods to: 1) derive seasonal fecal loading estimates in national park and unprotected land; 2) provide a simple, standardized method to estimate riparian fecal loading for use in distributed hydrological water quality models; 3) answer questions about complex drivers and patterns of water quality variability in a semi-arid southern African river system. Together, these findings have important implications to land use planning and water conservation in southern Africa's dryland savanna ecosystems.
- Doctoral Dissertations