Mahesh Sankaran, David J. Augustine and Jayashree Ratnam Native ungulates of diverse body sizes collectively regulate long-term woody plant demography and structure of a semi-arid savanna Journal of Ecology 101
Long-term exclusion of browsing ungulates from a semi-arid African savanna revealed that native browsers of different body sizes together exert dramatic ‘top-down’ controls over woody plant demography, even in the absence of fires. Browsers reduced seedling recruitment and the growth and survival of all size classes of woody vegetation. Intact communities of native browsers provide a critical ecosystem service in semi-arid rangelands – the regulation of woody cover – and their losses from these systems can lead to rapid woody encroachment.
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