, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 103–126 | Cite as

Trace element budget in an African savannah ecosystem

  • R. J. Bowell
  • R. K. Ansah


The concentration of selected trace elements (Co, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Se, and Zn) were analysed in soils, grass, bush, and tree samples from the Mole National Park, Ghana. The distribution of the essential nutrients: cobalt, copper, manganese, and selenium is controlled by bedrock geology, whereas iron, molybdenum, and zinc distribution is controlled by soil and hydrological processes. In the soils, iron, manganese, and cobalt are largely fixed in the mineral fraction while most of the copper, molybdenum, and selenium in the soils can be extracted by disodium ethylenediaminetetracetate. Copper, cobalt, and manganese appear to be preferentially concentrated in grass species while molybdenum and selenium are concentrated in browse plants.

Variations in uptake exist between wet and dry seasons with all trace elements studied, except iron and manganese, showing a marked increased availability in the wet season and increased concentration in the residual fraction of the mineral and organic soils in the dry season. In the dry season the plant concentration of molybdenum and selenium decreased while copper and zine showed increased concentrations and this may be related to a lower pH of the groundwaters at this time.

A budget of metal input and output in the ecosystem at Mole has been computed. From this potential dietary deficiencies in cobalt can be observed, however for other metals soil and plant concentrations are sufficient to prevent straightforward deficiencies while the concentrations of molybdenum and selenium are sufficiently low to be considered safe.

Key words

Africa savannah trace element cycles wildlife nutrition 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. Bowell
    • 1
  • R. K. Ansah
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MineralogyNatural History MuseumLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Game and WildlifeAccra

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