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How herbivore activity around water affects plant communities

ScienceDaily (October 18, 2021)

Titre : How herbivore activity around water affects plant communities

Plants need water to grow. So if there’s water, shouldn’t there be more plants ? New research out of UC Santa Barbara and Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia, Kenya shows it’s a lot more complicated than that.

ScienceDaily (October 18, 2021)

Présentation
The researchers gathered data on watering hole communities over the course of two years to investigate how herbivore activity affects vegetation on the savannas of central Kenya. They determined that the impacts depend a lot on environmental conditions.

The team surveyed 17 pairs of sites a total of four times each over the course of two years. They paired each water source with a control site 1 kilometer away that had analogous environmental conditions. The researchers tallied vegetation diversity and height around the watering holes and at the control sites and identified herbivore activity based on dung. They also characterized the nutrients and physical composition of soil from each site.

The authors found the effect of herbivores on the plant communities around these water sources differed depending on the context. Under favorable conditions for plants, the diversity of plants increased in proximity to water. This is likely because herbivores kept species in check that would otherwise dominate the area. This enabled other plant species to gain a foothold, even if the animals did eat more vegetation in the area overall.

Story Source  : University of California - Santa Barbara

Annonce (ScienceDaily)

Page publiée le 17 janvier 2023