Grazing lawns contribute to the subsistence of mesoherbivores on dystrophic savannas

  • Verweij R
  • Verrelst J
  • Loth P
 et al. 
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Abstract

Resource manipulation, such as the creation and maintenance of grazing
lawns, may shape the structure of herbivore communities. We tested
the hypothesis that grazing lawns contribute towards the subsistence
of the Kobus kob kob in a dystrophic West African savanna, where
kob and Hippopotamus amphibius both occur. Comparison of the foliage
of grazing lawns and ungrazed swards shows that hippo lawns are more
nutritious with regard to both structure and nutrients; kob lawns
are higher in nutrients only. Up to the early dry season, hippo lawns
meet kob energy and protein demand, thereafter, the shortness of
the sward limits intake. Kob lawns always provide sub-maintenance
values. Grazing on ungrazed swards is least profitable. We suggest
that grazing lawns are essential for the daily subsistence of mesoherbivores,
particularly on nutrient-poor soil, and that megaherbivores facilitate
their food supply, for at least part of the year.

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Authors

  • Jochem VerrelstImage Processing Laboratory (IPL), University of Valencia

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  • Richard J.T. Verweij

  • Paul E. Loth

  • Ignas M.A. Heitkönig

  • Arend M.H. Brunsting

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