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 451609
Title The impact of large herbivores on woodland–grassland dynamics in fragmented landscapes: The role of spatial configuration and disturbance
Author(s) Schippers, P.; Teeffelen, A.J.A. van; Verboom-Vasiljev, J.; Vos, C.C.; Kramer, K.; Wallis de Vries, M.F.
Source Ecological Complexity 17 (2014). - ISSN 1476-945X - p. 20 - 31.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecocom.2013.07.002
Department(s) Biodiversity and Policy
Forest Ecology and Forest Management
Land Use Planning
Nature and society
Vegetation, Forest and Landscape Ecology
Laboratory of Entomology
PE&RC
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2014
Keyword(s) north temperate forests - red deer - population-dynamics - metapopulation dynamics - habitat fragmentation - distribution patterns - grazing systems - management - regeneration - resilience
Abstract The vegetation structure of natural ecosystems is usually considered independent of their size and their location in the landscape. In this study, we examine the effect of size, spatial configuration and disturbances on the dynamic interactions of large herbivores and vegetation in a patchy environment using a metapopulation model. Simulations indicate that small, isolated or unfenced patches have low herbivore numbers and high tree cover whereas large, well-connected or fenced patches support high herbivore densities and are covered by grassland. Recovery of both herbivore numbers and forest cover in response to disturbance is slow (>100 years). These long recovery times are partly attributable to negative feedbacks between herbivore numbers and tree cover. When the population of large herbivores is disturbed, forest is able to expand, subsequently inhibiting herbivore population recovery. Likewise, forest disturbance allows herbivore population expansion, which inhibits forest recovery. Additionally, infrequent and limited disturbances like hunting and forest removal also affect the vegetation cover in patches of nature. Thus, our work indicates that the location and size of patches, together with disturbances, largely determine the structure of the vegetation in fragmented landscapes
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