Do mammalian herbivores influence invertebrate communities via changes in the vegetation? : Results from a preliminary survey in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Jonsson, M
Bell, D
Hjalten, J
Rooke, T
Scogings, P F
African Journal of Range & Forage Science
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We investigated the indirect influence of mammalian herbivores on invertebrates, by utilising long-term mammalian herbivore exclosures in Kruger National Park. The exclosures span three distinct habitat types (crest, footslope and riparian) on a catena. By performing invertebrate collections in the exclosures and in a control area we were able to assess the indirect effect of mammalian herbivory on the invertebrate community and if this influence varied across habitat types. Our results indicate that large mammalian herbivores (notably elephants) had significant negative effects on total invertebrate abundance, while medium-sized mammalian herbivores affected the abundance and richness of beetles and grasshoppers negatively. Habitat type affected the invertebrates; spider abundance and richness peaked on the footslope, while beetles were the most abundant and taxon-rich in the riparian zone. Hence, our results suggest that indirect effects of mammalian herbivores on the invertebrate community may be significant, and in most cases negative, but also that the effects of mammalian herbivores vary across invertebrate groups. Thus, to better understand the broad-scale implications of changed mammalian herbivore pressures for the functioning of savanna systems, it may be important to take effects on invertebrate communities into account.
Name of Journal: 
African Journal of Range & Forage Science
Resource Type: 
Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.