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Only in Africa


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Table of Contents

Preface; Foreword; List of abbreviations; Part I. The physical cradle: Land forms, geology, climate, hydrology and soils: 1. High Africa: Eroding surfaces; 2. Climate: Rainfall seasonality; 3. Water in rivers, lakes and wetlands; 4. Bedrock geology: Volcanic influences; 5. Soils: Foundations of fertility; Part II. The savanna garden: Grassy vegetation and plant dynamics: 6. Forms of savannah; 7. How savanna trees and grasses grow and compete; 8. Plant demography and dynamics: Fire traps; 9. Paleo-savannas: Expanding grasslands; Part III. The big mammal menagerie: Herbivores, carnivores and their ecosystem impacts: 10. Niche distinctions: resources versus risks; 11. Big fierce carnivores: Hunting versus scavenging; 12. Herbivore abundance: Bottom-up and top-down; 13. How large herbivores transform savanna ecosystems; 14. Paleo-faunas: Rise and fall of the biggest grazers; Part IV. Evolutionary transitions: From primate ancestors to modern humans: 15. Primate predecessors: From trees to ground; 16. Primate ecology: From forests into savannas; 17. How an ape became a hunter; 18. Cultural evolution: From tools to art and genes; 19. Reticulate evolution through turbulent times; 20. Prospects for a lonely planet; Index.

Promotional Information

Demonstrates how Africa's physical features, savannas and abundant grazers enabled frugivorous apes to become savanna-living hunters.

About the Author

Norman Owen-Smith headed the Centre for African Ecology at the University of the Witwatersrand before his retirement as Emeritus Professor there. He is an A-rated scientist and Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa. He received Gold Medals from the Zoological Society of Southern Africa and the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, Wildlife Excellence Award from the Southern African Wildlife Management Association, Honorary Life Membership in the Ecological Society of America, and was awarded a Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship in 2005. He has written or edited six books, including Megaherbivores: The Influence of Very Large Body Size on Ecology (Cambridge, 1988) and Adaptive Herbivore Ecology: From Resources to Populations in Variable Environments (Cambridge, 2002).


... the book is exceptionally well written, and very recommendable as a foundational introduction to modern Africa savanna ecology for a readership ranging from undergraduates to professional researchers in paleoanthropology.' Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo, Evolutionary Anthropology
'In Only in Africa Owen-Smith presents us with copious evidence of the complexity of interactions within and between species of plants, herbivores, and carnivores, coherently linking the trophic levels. He also makes a compelling case that the early stages of human evolution could only have happened in Africa. For those willing to accept that their knowledge of relevant contemporary African ecosystems and their critical role in human evolution could do with some updating and refreshing, Norman Owen-Smith's new book provides just the help they need. Its importance for paleoanthropology cannot be exaggerated.' Bernard Wood, Journal of Human Evolution

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