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Wat weten we van terugdringen van duinstruwelen door herbivore zoogdieren?
van Breukelen, L.; Cosyns, E.; van Wieren, S. (2002). Wat weten we van terugdringen van duinstruwelen door herbivore zoogdieren? Levende Nat. 103(3): 101-105
In: De Levende Natuur: tijdschrift voor Natuurbehoud en Natuurbeheer. Stichting De Levende Natuur: Oosterbeek; Amsterdam; 's-Graveland. ISSN 0024-1520, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • van Breukelen, L.
  • Cosyns, E., more
  • van Wieren, S.

Abstract
    What do we know about the counteracting of scrub encroachment by herbivorous mammals? Herbivorous mammals affect the development of scrub to a varying extent; their influence depends on animal species and density. In the previous centuries, the area covered by scrub was limited due to agricultural use of the dunes and the artificially large rabbit populations. The latter were the result of decades of breeding this species. Due to several causes the influence of rabbit decreased, but until recently it was still significant. Since the nineties, the viral disease VHD reduced rabbit numbers even more and they now appear to have lost their role as keystone species.Effects caused by herbivores are depending on their diet. Rabbits, horses and cattle mainly consume grasses and herbs, while woody species are eaten relatively more frequently by Fallow deer and Roe deer. Although domestic livestock mainly graze, they are able to reduce scrub growth. However, they appear not to be able to reduce the area covered by scrub: Wild herbivores do influence the species composition of woody vegetation but they don't prevent its increase. Although browsing activity of Highland cattle is relatively low, a simple calculation shows that, for commonly used densities, their influence can be much larger than that of the other domestic and wild herbivores discussed here. A complete insight in the absolute effects can yet not be given due to the lack of information on plant production, but the results support the general findings that herbivores may influence species composition but cannot stop scrub encroachment.

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