Seasonal Selection Preferences for Woody Plants by Breeding Herds of African Elephants ( Loxodonta africana ) in a Woodland Savanna

  • Viljoen J
  • Reynecke H
  • Panagos M
  • et al.
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Abstract

To evaluate dynamics of elephant herbivory, we assessed seasonal preferences for woody plants by African elephant breeding herds in the southeastern part of Kruger National Park (KNP) between 2002 and 2005. Breeding herds had access to a variety of woody plants, and, of the 98 woody plant species that were recorded in the elephant's feeding areas, 63 species were utilized by observed animals. Data were recorded at 948 circular feeding sites (radius 5 m) during wet and dry seasons. Seasonal preference was measured by comparing selection of woody species in proportion to their estimated availability and then ranked according to the Manly alpha ( α ) index of preference. Animals demonstrated a selection preference in feeding on woody vegetation, and Grewia hexamita, Grewia bicolor, Grewia flavescens , and Grewia monticola were selected consistently more over all seasons. In addition, our results indicate that elephant herds have a low preference for at least some of the woody species prone to extirpation and that feeding preferences for woody plants do not account for the association of elephants and riparian fringe habitat.

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Viljoen, J. J., Reynecke, H. C., Panagos, M. D., Langbauer, W. R., & Ganswindt, A. (2013). Seasonal Selection Preferences for Woody Plants by Breeding Herds of African Elephants ( Loxodonta africana ) in a Woodland Savanna . International Journal of Ecology, 2013, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/769587

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