Global environmental controls of diversity in large herbivores

  title={Global environmental controls of diversity in large herbivores},
  author={Han Olff and Mark E. Ritchie and Herbert H. T. Prins},
Large mammalian herbivores occupy half of the earth's land surface and are important both ecologically and economically, but their diversity is threatened by human activities. We investigated how the diversity of large herbivores changes across gradients of global precipitation and soil fertility. Here we show that more plant-available moisture reduces the nutrient content of plants but increases productivity, whereas more plant-available nutrients increase both of these factors. Because larger… 

Herbivore impact on grassland plant diversity depends on habitat productivity and herbivore size.

It is shown that assemblages including large herbivores increased plant diversity at higher productivity but decreased diversity at low productivity, while small herbivore effects did not have consistent effects along the productivity gradient.

Carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems: do browsing and grazing herbivores matter?

  • A. TanentzapD. Coomes
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
  • 2012
It is estimated that if all large herbivores were removed from the vegetation types sampled, increases in terrestrial carbon stocks would be up to three orders of magnitude less than many of the natural and human‐influenced sources of carbon emissions.

Effects of large herbivores on grassland arthropod diversity

It is concluded that large herbivores can only increase arthropod diversity if they cause an increase in (a)biotic heterogeneity, and then only if this increase is large enough to compensate for the loss of total resource abundance and the increased mortality rate.

Large herbivore impact on plant biomass along multiple resource gradients in the Serengeti

This is the first experimental study to indicate that wild mammalian herbivory is associated with P availability rather than N, and suggests that P, in addition to water and N, may play a more important role in driving trophic interactions in terrestrial systems than previously realized.

The generality of cryptic dietary niche differences in diverse large-herbivore assemblages.

Ecological niche differences are necessary for stable species coexistence but are often difficult to discern. Models of dietary niche differentiation in large mammalian herbivores invoke the quality,

Species Richness and Size Distribution of Large Herbivores in the Himalaya

It is proposed that seasonal altitudinal migration patterns, biogeographic influences, increases in the abundance of graminoids, and an increase in plant nutrients with altitude might explain the unusual high grazer species richness at higher altitudes in the Himalayan Mountains.

The past, present, and future of herbivore impacts on savanna vegetation

Herbivory is a key process structuring vegetation in savannas, especially in Africa where large mammal herbivore communities remain intact. Exclusion experiments consistently show that herbivores

Contrasting effects of large herbivore grazing on smaller herbivores

Assemblages of large herbivores may compete for food or facilitate one another. However, small vertebrate herbivore species co-occurring with large herbivores may be affected by large herbivore



Rainfall, soil nutrient status and biomass of large African savanna mammals

The positive correlation between total large herbivore biomass and rainfall in arid/eutrophic savannas and individual carnivore species suggests that natural populations of large savanna mammals tend to be close to the limits set by their food resources.

Species richness in mammalian herbivores: patterns in the horeal zone

The hypothesis that current environmental features of the environment (primary productivity and regional landscape structure) may explain the longitudinal variation in species richness of mammalian herbivores in the Holarctic boreal zone is tested.

Ecosystem-level patterns of primary productivity and herbivory in terrestrial habitats

Evidence is presented that herbivore biomass, consumption and produc-tivity are closely correlated with plant productivity, suggesting that the latter is a principal integrator and indicator of functional processes in food webs.

Optimal foraging and community structure: The allometry of herbivore food selection and competition

  • G. Belovsky
  • Environmental Science
    Evolutionary Ecology
  • 2004
This work empirically test the hypothesis of herbivore diet selectivity and the pattern of resource use that it produces in the field and experimentally and the results may have general applicability to other types of foragers, with general implications for how biodiversity is influenced.

Biological Diversity, Soils, and Economics

  • M. Huston
  • Environmental Science, Medicine
  • 1993
Variations in plant productivity, resulting from differences in inherent soil fertility, variations in climate and weather, and differences in chemical inputs and agricultural practices, produce patterns of biological diversity that are associated with the agricultural component of economic productivity.

The Effect of Soil Nutrient Availability on Community Structure in African Ecosystems

To me, one of the most striking features of African ecology is the contrast in community structure between the savannas of East Africa, with their open, fine-leaved woodland, short- to medium-length

Body Size, Population Metabolism, and Habitat Specialization Among Large African Herbivores

Results are presented confirming that among African savanna herbivores, population metabolism scales positively with body mass, and a hypothesis is presented to explain this, on the basis of patterns of habitat use.

Elephants, trees, grass, grazers : relationships between climate soils, vegetation and large herbivores in a semi-arid savanna ecosysteem (Tsavo, Kenya)

Based on descriptions of the climate, soils, vegetation and large herbivore populations, relationships are described between the different components of the Tsavo ecosystem. It appears that there is

Living with wildlife : coexistence of wildlife and livestock in an East African Savanna system

The group size of native herbivore species was related to their body mass, feeding style, habitat choice and density, which explained most variation in group size because of its relation to food requirements and how different sized animals experience the distribution of food.

Generalist Herbivore Foraging and Its Role in Competitive Interactions

The results indicate that a mechanistic approach can provide considerable insights into herbivore community structure and the foraging constraints underlying the entire analysis may be body size dependent, providing a more general view.