Lindsey Gillson

Lindsey Gillson
University of Cape Town | UCT · Department of Biological Sciences

About

123
Publications
29,166
Reads
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3,779
Citations
Citations since 2016
45 Research Items
2126 Citations
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20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300
20162017201820192020202120220100200300

Publications

Publications (123)
Article
Full-text available
In the face of a changing environment linked to increased drought and depletion of natural resources, paleoecological data from the last 2000 years show how communities in southwestern Madagascar adopted both incremental and transformational adaptations that allowed them to cope with environmental variability.
Article
Vegetation cover estimates for trees, shrub-grass mosaics, and grassland and bare ground, were quantified in the savanna-woodland of Bwabwata National Park, north-east Namibia. Changes in woody cover were analysed using repeat photographs in combination with aerial photographs and recent satellite imagery taken between 1996 and 2019. Cover estimate...
Article
African grassy biomes evolved together with fire and have a long history of human manipulation of fire, yet few rangeland studies acknowledge the role of prehistoric fire in shaping contemporary ecological patterns. Nevertheless, prehistoric fire records have been used elsewhere as invaluable environmental contexts for practitioners in fire managem...
Article
Full-text available
Bush encroachment, (i.e., disproportionate woody vegetation increase at the cost of grassland) has negative impacts for biodiversity conservation and tourism by homogenising habitat structure and decreasing grazing and game‐viewing. While herbivory, rainfall, and CO2 all influence changes in woody vegetation cover, fire has the best potential for v...
Article
Full-text available
Indigenous communities depend on natural capital and adapt their livelihoods to changing environmental conditions and ecosystem services. This paper aims to understand how southwestern Malagasy living around the Mikea National Park and the Mangoky River, have adapted their subsistence strategies to decreasing rainfall over time. We analyzed charcoa...
Chapter
Full-text available
This paper presents the pollen data and its interpretation of a small lake in southwest Madagascar.
Article
Landscapes change over time in response to multiple interacting drivers, including climate, disturbance, and land-use, which all leave a lasting legacy on ecosystem structure and function. As the dynamic nature of ecosystems is increasingly recognised, long-term data is essential to contextualise recent changes and provide a frame of reference for...
Article
Madagascar experienced environmental change during the Late-Holocene, and the relative importance of climatic and anthropogenic drivers is still the subject of an ongoing debate. Using palaeoecological records from the southwest region at Lake Longiza, we provide additional records to elucidate the complex history of the island and to identify the...
Article
Full-text available
Grassland ecosystems supporting wildlife and livestock populations have undergone significant transformation in the last millennium. Climate, herbivory, fire, and people are identified as important drivers of ecosystems dynamics; however, grassland resilience has been rarely explored in landscapes with mixed grazing histories. Here we analyse ecosy...
Article
The comparison of matched historical and repeat photograph pairs provides an important tool to assess historical trends in vegetation and landscape change. An analysis of repeat photographs is invaluable for ground-truthing and augmenting an understanding of trajectories of vegetation change derived from other methods such as aerial photographs, re...
Article
Global change in its various expressions has impacted the structure and function of ecosystems worldwide, compromising the provision of fundamental ecosystems services and creating a predicament for the societies that benefit from them. Restoration ecology plays a key role in securing ecological integrity and societal wellbeing, and hence represent...
Article
Full-text available
Savannas are dynamic and heterogeneous environments with highly variable vegetation that responds to a multitude of interacting drivers. Rainfall, soils, herbivory, fire and land use all effect land cover in savannas. In addition, savannas have a long history of human use. Setting management goals is therefore complex. Understanding long-term varia...
Article
Full-text available
There is a long history of fire management in African savannas, but knowledge of historical and current use of fire is scarce in savanna-woodland biomes. This study explores past and present fire management practices and perceptions of the Khwe (former hunter-gatherers) and Mbukushu (agropastoralists) communities as well as government and non-gover...
Article
Biome boundaries are expected to be sensitive to changes in climate and disturbance, because it is here that ecological communities are at environmental, ecological or disturbance limits. Using palaeoecology to study ecosystem dynamics at biome boundaries provides opportunities for understanding ecosystem resilience or sensitivity at ecologically m...
Article
A horizon scan was conducted to identify emerging and intensifying issues for biodiversity conservation in South Africa over the next 5–10 years. South African biodiversity experts submitted 63 issues of which ten were identified as priorities using the Delphi method. These priority issues were then plotted along axes of social agreement and scient...
Article
Full-text available
Fire management around the world is now undergoing extensive review, with a move toward fire management plans that maintain biodiversity and other ecosystems services, while at the same time mitigating the negative impacts to people and property. There is also increasing recognition of the historical and anthropogenic dimensions that underlie curre...
Article
In the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) of South Africa, afrotemperate forest islands persist within a broader landscape of Mediterranean-type fynbos shrubland. The co-existence of these contrasting vegetation types in the same climate space suggests interactions between broad-scale climatic parameters and localised variables (notably local dis...
Article
Studying vegetation change across biome boundaries provides insight into vegetation resilience. In this study, shifts in grassland composition are reconstructed from sediments in three wetland sites across altitudinal gradient from 2128 to 897 m.a.s.l., representing a gradient from the grassland biome to the grassland/savanna boundary in the Mpumal...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, we review the potential of biocultural heritage in biodiversity protection and agricultural innovation in sub-Saharan Africa. We begin by defining the concept of biocultural heritage into four interlinked elements that are revealed through integrated landscape analysis. This concerns the transdisciplinary methods whereby biocultural...
Chapter
Full-text available
Africa has rich and varied biological resources forming the continent’s natural wealth on which its social and economic systems are based (well established). Most, if not all, terrestrial ecosystems in Africa have already experienced major biodiversity losses in the past 30 years, which has negative impacts on nature’s contribution to people. The p...
Chapter
Full-text available
Africa has rich and varied biological resources forming the continent’s natural wealth on which its social and economic systems are based (well established). Most, if not all, terrestrial ecosystems in Africa have already experienced major biodiversity losses in the past 30 years, which has negative impacts on nature’s contribution to people. The p...
Article
Most projections of climate change for southern Africa describe a hotter and drier future with catastrophic consequences for the environment and socio-ecological sustainability of the region. This study investigated whether evidence of the projections for the climate and vegetation of the subcontinent is already evident. Analysis of the climate rec...
Article
Adaptive management (AM) and evidence-based conservation (EBC) have emerged as major decision-making frameworks for conservation management. AM deals with complexity and the importance of local context in making conservation decisions under conditions of high variability, uncertainty, and rapid environmental and social change. EBC seeks for general...
Article
The idea of alternate stable states (ASS) has been used to explain the juxtaposition of distinct vegetation types within the same climate regime. ASS may explain the co‐existence of relatively inflammable closed‐canopy Afrotemperate Forest patches (“Forest”) within fire‐prone open‐canopy Fynbos in the Cape Floristic Region (CFR) on sandstone‐derive...
Article
Ecological baselines are important in informing conservation management targets. Baselines can shift, however, depending on the timescale of observation. Using observations from the past few years or decades can give a misleading impression of the normal range of variability of an ecosystem, and the extent of recent human transformation. Palaeoecol...
Article
Global sustainability initiatives are gaining momentum and impact, and place-based research can provide complementary insights to strengthen them. Here, we explore the current and potential role of place-based research into informing global sustainability initiatives by assessing the strengths, challenges, and opportunities. We show that place-base...
Article
The mega-diverse, Mediterranean-type fynbos biome may be vulnerable to future changes in climate and associated fire regimes, in particular to increasing summer-drought intensity and associated potential expansion of adjacent semi-arid vegetation types. Studying Holocene vegetation dynamics at the fynbos–succulent karoo boundary may provide insight...
Article
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In this contribution, we review long‐term (millennial–decadal scale) river‐flow changes, climate interactions, and interlinkage with vegetation dynamics, as well as society and policy, focusing on the lower Limpopo Valley (from the South African border through Mozambique). Drawing on paleoecological data, we address the valley's potential for defin...
Poster
Full-text available
Large mammalian herbivores (LMH) are one of the major drivers of directional vegetation change in grass dominated terrestrial ecosystems. Areas where LMHs aggregate are often associated with switches from tallgrasses to shortgrasses and this is followed by changes in soil properties. However, the relationship between LMHs and vegetation is complica...
Conference Paper
Climatic and seasonal pulses in rainfall regulate the availability of grazing in key resource areas (KRAs) that are important for maintaining herbivore and human populations. KRAs have been extensively studied in contemporary ecological and sociological studies because of their ecological resilience and role in providing forage for herbivores and f...
Article
Full-text available
Disturbances affect almost all terrestrial ecosystems, but it has been difficult to identify general principles regarding these influences. To improve our understanding of the long-term consequences of disturbance on terrestrial ecosystems, we present a conceptual framework that analyzes disturbances by their biogeochemical impacts. We posit that t...
Article
Context Integrated conservation decision-making frameworks that help to design or adjust practices that are cognisant of environmental change and adaptation are urgently needed. Objective We demonstrate how a landscape vulnerability framework combining sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and exposure to climate change framed along two main axes of con...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Millennial to decadal fire and herbivore patterns in tree-grass systems are affected by biophysical and anthropogenic factors. Attributing which factor dominates in driving vegetation dynamics in the Late Holocene can be difficult due to complex socio-ecological interactions. A sedimentary core was collected from the Blood River Vlei system 850m.a....
Article
Many ecosystems exhibit threshold behaviour, where periods of relative stability are punctuated by rapid transitions between alternate stable states when an ecological threshold, or tipping point, is reached. This is of concern in grass-dominated habitats, many of which appear to be on the point of conversion to more wooded vegetation assemblages....
Article
Maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services in a changing environment requires a temporal perspective that informs realistic restoration and management targets. Such targets need to be dynamic, adaptive, and responsive to changing boundary conditions. However, the application of long-term data from palaeoecology is often hindered as the managem...
Article
Full-text available
* Priority question exercises are becoming an increasingly common tool to frame future agendas in conservation and ecological science. They are an effective way to identify research foci that advance the field and that also have high policy and conservation relevance. * To date, there has been no coherent synthesis of key questions and priority re...
Chapter
Patch dynamics is the study of spatial patterns in landscapes and the ecological and environmental processes that generate these patterns, plus the internal dynamics of how patches change over time. “Patches” are spatial units differing from their neighbors. They are not necessarily internally homogeneous, but may be further decomposable to smaller...
Article
Grassland and savanna are globally important ecosystems, both ecologically and economically. These grass-dominated systems are at risk from current and future climate change and increasing anthropogenic impact. Key questions for understanding the resilience and variability of grass-dominated ecosystems under current and future environmental conditi...
Article
Species ranges are seldom at equilibrium with climate, because several interacting factors determine distribution, including demographic processes, dispersal, land use, disturbance (e.g., fire), and biotic interactions. Conservation strategies in a changing climate therefore cannot be based only on predicted climate-driven range shifts. Here, we ex...
Article
The long‐term responses of vegetation to climate variability are of relevance for predicting present and future vegetation change, and have implications for the management of savanna and riparian ecosystems. This paper explores the links between regional rainfall, hydrology and vegetation dynamics in the savannas and riverine forests of the lower L...
Article
In many regions of the world, increasing temperatures in recent decades are paradoxically associated with declining pan evaporation, but evidence is sparse for this trend from the southern hemisphere in general and sub-Saharan Africa in particular. In this study, we examined changes in pan evaporation and four other meteorological variables (rainfa...
Article
Full-text available
. Changes in land cover include the conversion of natural vegetation to agricultural crops and forest plantations, changes to natural vegetation through bush encroachment and overgrazing, soil erosion, invasion by alien plant species, and accelerating urbanisation. Land-cover changes increasingly relate to climate and atmospheric changes in ways th...
Article
Full-text available
The paper uses new palaeo-ecological data and a selective review of archaeological and written sources to show how social and natural history over the last 1200 years have interacted to form the present day landscape of Limpopo National Park and Northern Kruger National Park. The longterm mosaic of different communities in this landscape, hunter an...
Article
Full-text available
This paper compares vegetation dynamics at two sites in the savanna landscape of Limpopo National Park (PNL), Mozambique. In order to test the relationship between vegetation cover and hydrology, nutrient availability and disturbance from grazing and fire over the last 1,200years at local (100m2) scales, we use palaeoecological data (i.e. pollen as...
Article
Predicting the effect of different management strategies on range condition is a challenge for farmers in highly variable environments. A model that explains how the relations between rainfall, livestock and vegetation composition vary over time and interact is needed. Rangeland ecosystems have a hierarchical structure that can be described in term...
Article
This paper explores the general correlations between fire and grass/tree relationships, as represented by fossil charcoal and pollen, from different vegetation types in the savanna ecosystems of the neighbouring Kruger (KNP) and Limpopo (PNL) national parks. Our analysis suggests that the basic presumption that fire is a main driver of vegetation d...
Article
Effective wildlife management needs historical data on herbivore abundance and its interactions with vegetation, climate and disturbance over longer time periods that is available through observational and archive data. Spores specific to herbivore dung provide a potential source of information on past herbivore abundances. This paper sets out to e...
Article
Aim  There remains some uncertainty concerning the causes of extinctions of Madagascar’s megafauna. One hypothesis is that they were caused by over-hunting by humans. A second hypothesis is that their extinction was caused by both environmental change and hunting. This paper systematically addresses the second hypothesis through examination of two...
Article
Full-text available
For the winter-rainfall region of South Africa, the frequency of drought is predicted to increase over the next 100 years, with dire consequences for the vegetation of this biodiversity hotspot. We analysed historical 20th century rainfall records for six rainfall stations within the succulent karoo biome to determine if the signal of increasing dr...
Article
Full-text available
Resilience theory suggests that ecosystems can persist for long periods, before changing rapidly to a new vegetation phase. Transition between phases occurs when ecological thresholds have been crossed, and is followed by a reorganization of biotic and environmental interactions, leading to the emergence of a new vegetation phase or quasi-stable st...
Article
Conceptual models suggest a link between spatial heterogeneity, diversity, and resilience, but few empirical studies exist to demonstrate such an ecological relationship. In this study, we investigated the nature of spatial heterogeneity and resilience of two forest fragments from Madagascar's highly endangered littoral forest, and two nearby sites...
Article
Full-text available
The last two decades have seen a conceptual shift within environmental and social sciences from an emphasis on ecosystem stability and balance to an acknowledgement of the importance of flux and change in the natural world. This has profound implications for conservation management and policy and has driven an (incomplete) transition from managing...
Article
Landscape ecology has a temporal dimension, and the role of past processes in shaping landscapes is increasingly recognised. To date, the interface between landscape ecology and palaeoecology has proved most productive in understanding the impacts of climate change and in discovering the extent of past human impacts on ecosystems. Further areas of...
Article
Aim Coastal biodiversity hotspots are globally threatened by sea-level rise. As such it is important to understand how ecosystems resist, respond and adapt to sea-level rise. Using pollen, geochemistry, charcoal and diatom records in conjunction with previously published palaeoclimatic records, we investigated the mechanism, interactions and ecosys...
Article
Full-text available
For the winter-rainfall region of South Africa, the frequency of drought is predicted to increase over the next 100 years, with dire consequences for the vegetation of this biodiversity hotspot. We analysed historical 20th century rainfall records for six rainfall stations within the succulent karoo biome to determine if the signal of increasing dr...
Article
Aim Grasslands and savannas, which make up > 75% of Madagascar's land area, have long been viewed as anthropogenically derived after people settled on the island c. 2 ka. We investigated this hypothesis and an alternative - that the grasslands are an insular example of the post-Miocene spread of C 4 grassy biomes world-wide. Location Madagascar, so...
Article
Full-text available
Invasion ecology has made rapid progress in recent years through synergies with landscape ecology, niche theory, evolutionary ecology and the ecology of climate change. The palaeo-record of Holocene invasions provides a rich but presently underexploited resource in exploring the pattern and process of invasions through time. In this paper, examples...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the interplay between climatic and anthropogenic factors is a major challenge in palaeo-ecology. In particular, it is often difficult to distinguish anthropogenic and “natural” fire in the charcoal record. In this paper, analysis of fossil pollen, charcoal, diatoms and isotopic evidence from Mapimbi, a small lake in the Kruger Nationa...
Article
The charcoal record contained in lake sedimentary sequences is often used to infer past fire events. Studies to calibrate such charcoal records have been carried out in a range of mid- to high-latitude regions and relationships have been determined between size and quantity of charcoal in the sediment and proximity and spatial extent of the fires....
Article