Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 407272
Title African elephants (Loxodonta africana) amplify browse heterogeneity in African savanna
Author(s) Kohi, E.; Boer, W.F. de; Peel, M.; Slotow, R.; Waal, C. van der; Heitkonig, I.M.A.; Skidmore, A.K.; Prins, H.H.T.
Source Biotropica 43 (2011)6. - ISSN 0006-3606 - p. 711 - 721.
Department(s) Resource Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Keyword(s) kruger-national-park - colophospermum-mopane - semiarid savanna - rumen fermentation - quebracho tannins - western zimbabwe - trees - growth - facilitation - vegetation
Abstract There is a growing concern that the feeding habits of the African elephant, which include pushing over, uprooting and snapping trees, may have a negative impact on other herbivores. Browsed trees are known to respond by either increasing production (shoots and leaves) or defence (secondary compounds). It is not clear, however, what proportion of the browsed biomass can be made available at lower feeding heights after a tree is pushed over or snapped; thus, it is also unclear how the forage quality is affected. In a field survey in Kruger National Park, South Africa, 708 Mopane trees were measured over four elephant utilization categories: snapped trees, pushed-over trees, uprooted trees and control trees. The elephants' impact on the leaf biomass distribution was quantified, and the forage quality (Ca, P, K and Mg, N, digestibility and condensed tannin [CT] concentrations) were analyzed. Pushed-over and uprooted trees had the maximum leaf biomass at lower heights (2 m). In all three utilization categories, the minimum leaf biomass was seven times higher than it was for control trees at a height of below 1 m. Leaf nitrogen content increased in all three categories and was significantly higher in snapped trees. CT concentrations increased slightly in all trees that were utilized by elephants, especially on granitic soils in the dry season. The results provide the insight that elephants facilitate the redistribution and availability of browse and improve the quality, which may positively affect small browsing herbivores.
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