Herbivore size matters for productivity‐richness relationships in African savannas: Commentary on Burkepile et al. (2017)

@article{Bakker2017HerbivoreSM,
  title={Herbivore size matters for productivity‐richness relationships in African savannas: Commentary on Burkepile et al. (2017)},
  author={Elisabeth S. Bakker},
  journal={Journal of Ecology},
  year={2017},
  volume={105}
}
  • E. S. Bakker
  • Published 1 May 2017
  • Environmental Science
  • Journal of Ecology
Since the Late Pleistocene, human impact has increasingly resulted in defaunation, or human-caused animal loss, leading to largely impoverished vertebrate communities (Dirzo et al. 2014; McCauley et al. 2015). These extinctions are not random, but are strongly size-selective with large animals going first. This trend is continuing, with native large herbivores being currently increasingly threatened around the globe (Ripple et al. 2015). As a consequence, native herbivore communities both lose… 

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 25 REFERENCES

Native ungulates of diverse body sizes collectively regulate long‐term woody plant demography and structure of a semi‐arid savanna

It is demonstrated unequivocally that, even in the absence of fire, native browsing ungulates can exert dramatic ‘top-down’ controls in semi-arid savannas, influencing all aspects of woody plant demography.

Combining paleo-data and modern exclosure experiments to assess the impact of megafauna extinctions on woody vegetation

This review combines paleo- data with information from modern exclosure experiments to assess the impact of large herbivores (and their disappearance) on woody species, landscape structure, and ecosystem functions, and proposes a conceptual framework that describes the impact that herbivore suppression of woody plants is strongest where Herbivore diversity is high.

A continent-wide assessment of the form and intensity of large mammal herbivory in Africa

Four distinct herbivory regimes emerge from the analysis, characterized by forest antelopes, arid-region gazelles, high-diversity savannah fauna, and bulk feeders (such as elephants), which have had equivalent impact to those of fire and water on shaping ecosystems.

Low functional redundancy among mammalian browsers in regulating an encroaching shrub (Solanum campylacanthum) in African savannah

The conclusion that different browsers have complementary net effects on plant populations is reinforced, and it is suggested that under some conditions, these net effects may even differ in direction.

Large-scale impacts of herbivores on the structural diversity of African savannas

The results are the first to quantitatively illustrate the extent to which herbivores can affect the 3-D structural diversity of vegetation across large savanna landscapes.

Herbivore size matters for productivity–richness relationships in African savannas

It is shown that the impact of herbivore losses on plant diversity will be strongly situation dependent and will vary with the herbivores lost, and that smaller, abundant Herbivores can exert strong top-down control on plant communities.

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.

Cascading Consequences of the Loss of Large Mammals in an African Savanna

The experimental removal of large grazing mammals set into motion a cascade of consequences, beginning with the doubling in abundance of a small grazing mammal, the pouched mouse, which doubled the abundance of fleas and potentially increased the risk of transmission of flea-borne pathogens.

Defaunation in the Anthropocene

Defaunation is both a pervasive component of the planet’s sixth mass extinction and also a major driver of global ecological change.

Effects of mammalian herbivore declines on plant communities: observations and experiments in an African savanna

How plant community responses to changes in the identity and abundance of large herbivores interact with abiotic factors (rainfall and soil properties) is examined and the importance of abiotic environmental heterogeneity in modulating the effects of mammalian herbivory on plant communities is emphasized.