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Comparisons of Vegetation Use and Herbivore Biomass on a Rhodesian Game and Cattle Ranch

R. D. Taylor and B. H. Walker
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 15, No. 2 (Aug., 1978), pp. 565-581
DOI: 10.2307/2402611
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2402611
Page Count: 17
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Comparisons of Vegetation Use and Herbivore Biomass on a Rhodesian Game and Cattle Ranch
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Abstract

(1) Botanical composition, utilization of vegetation and animal biomass were compared on the 12 000 ha cattle section and 8 000 ha game section of Buffalo Range Ranch in south eastern Rhodesia. (2) Ten large herbivore species were present on the game section. The total animal biomass on the game section was approximately the same as that on the cattle section, where a few game animals were present. (3) Percentage utilization of herbaceous vegetation on the game section was 43% but only 28% on the cattle section. Twelve grass species were utilized more than 10% by cattle, as opposed to twenty species by game. (4) Up to 20% of the available browse (woody trees and shrubs) was utilized by game compared to 7-8% on the cattle section, where only a few game were present. (5) Grazing by cattle was less area-specific than that by game animals. This was due partly to controlled management of the cattle and partly to inherent behavioural patterns of the wild species. The game showed a wider choice of plant species but both game and cattle preferred the same herbaceous (grass) plants. (6) Cover abundance, litter cover and height of grass were greater on the cattle section, whilst soil capping, moribund grass and the extent of soil erosion were lower on the game section. There was also a higher density of shrubs (woody plants < 3 m) on the cattle section.

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