Presentation by Dr. Manfred Finckh:
Tool or disaster – logics and trade-offs behind wildfires in the Okavango basin
The tropical dry forests, woodlands and savannahs in south-central Africa are among the most frequently burnt ecosystems in the world. The alarming losses of dry forests in central Angola during the past decade have just recently been highlighted in Science. It is frequently stated that fire is important for the maintenance and conservation of African savannahs and that woodland ecosystems are adapted to it. However, for large parts of the forest-savannah transition zone the state of vegetation under a natural fire regime – and thus the naturalness of the current land cover types – is unknown. Most studies dealing with the impact of fire in the dry tropics focus on rangeland management, but very few apply a forest ecologist’s view. Furthermore, there is still a profound lack of analyses about the time and motives behind man-made ignition events and the subsequent fire dynamics. The talk thus aims at disentangling the spatio-temporal fire patterns in order to understand their impact on vegetation and the logics and trade-offs behind wildfires in different parts of the Okavango basin.
Manfred Finckh, Dr. rer. nat., Diplom in Geoecology, is Research Associate in the working group on Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology of Plants at the Biocenter Klein Flottbek and Botanical Garden of the University of Hamburg.
Presentation by Helke Mocke:
Did mammoths walk in the Etosha?
In August 2014 an international team consisting of scientists from the Netherlands, Germany and France in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Namibia visited the Etosha National Park. The aim of the trip was to excavate bones of a mammoth, which had been discovered in 2008. The mammoth was identified as Mammuthus subplanifrons (OSBORN, 1928), which lived in Southern Africa during the Pliocene, about five million years ago. A partial skeleton of the mammoth was successfully excavated next to the Ekuma riverbank revealing a scapula, femur, tibia and fibula, thoracic, lumbar and sacral vertebrae, pelvis, several ribs and a polished tusk fragment. It is considered to be the most complete skeleton of this species ever excavated. It is a unique specimen and measurements of the partial skeleton indicate that this may have been a male individual. The remains of a second adult individual and a baby, represented by a lower molar tooth were found as well. These skeletal remains of Mammuthus subplanifrons, also known as the “Urmammut” will provide scientists and the world at large with new information on the evolution of the earliest mammoths. Future plans include the production of an attractive display in the National Earth Science Museum in the Geological Survey of Namibia in Windhoek.
Helke Mocke was born in Windhoek, Namibia. She is a palaeontologist working at the National Earth Science Museum at the Geological Survey of Namibia in Windhoek. She is currently studying for her Masters at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. Her research interests include the use of fossils as indicators of climate change, dinosaur footprints, earliest mammal ancestors, meteorites and minerals from Tsumeb.
All events are open for public – everyone welcome! Venue is Namibia Scientific Society, Robert Mugabe Ave 110, opposite National Theatre. Safe parking in yard – Love street entrance.
Please note: The opinions expressed during any presentations, films or events are not necessarily in accord with ours.