Assessing the plant and mammalian species diversity and abundance in dichrostachys cinerea invaded and non-invaded areas of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
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Ecosystems supporting biodiversity are declining at an unprecedented rate, mainly being driven by anthropogenic activities. Such disturbances regimes exposes most ecosystems to invasion by either native plants or alien plant species. Dichrostachys cinerea, a native plant in Uganda, has invaded most areas of Queen Elizabeth National Park where it’s causing massive alteration of habitat structure or ecosystem structure of the protected area. A baseline study was therefore undertaken to assess the plant and mammalian species diversity and abundance in Dichrostachys cinerea invaded and non-invaded areas of the park. Both qualitative and quantitative studies were undertaken, with stratified and systematic sampling techniques used to undertake vegetation inventory. Scan sampling observations along 200 by 2km transects were made to assess medium and large sized mammalian diversity and abundance. Statistical analysis of data collected was done using Microsoft word excel, 2013. The results indicate that the diversity of mammals differ significantly between the two strata. Despite having a high Simpsons diversity Index of 0.7163, the Dichrostachys cinerea invaded habitat had a lower number of individuals encountered than the non-invaded site. This is attributed to the variations in vegetation structure between the invaded and non-invaded areas which highly determines the community structure, diversity and abundance of mammals in the different strata. However, other factors such as effects of human activities that were not considered during this study could have an effect on the distribution and abundance of medium and large sized mammals. Finally, the vegetation structure of Dichrostachys cinerea invaded site studied differed significantly from that of the non-invaded study site, with the former having a higher woody density and higher percentage of bare ground than the non-invaded study area.