Importance of Herbivore Foraging in Terrestrial Environments

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COVENTRY UNIVERSITY

FACULTY OF BUSINESS, ENVIRONMENT & SOCIETY

Module M58: Ecological management and assessment

Re-sit Coursework 2010

Submitted by: ELAICHOUNI MEHDI

2009/2010

Executive summary

CONTENTS

I. Introduction
II. Importance of herbivore foraging in terrestrial environments III. Negative impact
IV. Conclusion and recommendations
V. References

Introduction
An herbivorous animal is an animal that feeds almost exclusively on vegetation. Often it is a grazer like a horse, or a climber like the panda, but they are not predators. The teeth of herbivorous mammals are made to crush the grass by chewing it so that it can be digested. An herbivorous is not necessarily a mammal; insects can also eat only plants. The herbivorous insects are often a bigger problem for humans because they destroy crops if their number is large enough. The hoofed animals are usually herbivores such as deer and cattle … their legs are not really made to catch prey. The vast majority will stay in groups, according to flee the threat. Speed is their main advantage; the horse is an excellent example. In the case of the cattle, its imposing weight and the horns on his head can save him from big predators. The herbivore insect eats plants, flowers, roots, leaves ….depending on its diet. They can easily devastate a garden if they are fairly numerous. For example the beetle eats the roots and kills the plant that can no longer get water. Naturally, the herbivorous animal is placed higher up the food chain because they eat grass and not in danger to other animals, he does not hunt and he is the prey of carnivorous animals. Between plants and predators, herbivores are the key component of the ecosystem that determines the abundance of predators and plants. The Center for Biological Sciences conducts research on interactions between plants and herbivores (the effects of the consumption of plants for the flora as for herbivores themselves) to understand the ecological principles that govern the dynamics these systems. This knowledge is used as a base for the conservation of endangered species and sustainable use of natural resources. Among the different species of herbivores - from insects to elephants - the largest species of herbivores are especially important because their size allows them to be generalists, consuming a wide range of plants.

I) Importance of herbivore foraging in terrestrial environments

Savannah Example
The savannah is grassland which is home to tropical and subtropical shrubs and scattered trees. Grasslands of East Africa are a familiar example, with their fauna and flora. Compared to temperate grasslands, savannas is highly variable: in some places the trees are few and far between, in others, they form clumps merging in open woodlands. Trees have a significant impact on the wildlife of the savannah as they produce a wide variety of food: wood, leaves, flowers and seeds. They also provide shelter and breeding areas for animals that live above ground. The balance between trees and the grass is precarious and sometimes modified by the animals themselves. For example, elephants destroy trees by pushing them in order to reach their leaves. However, elephants also allow trees to reproduce, because they ingest the seeds, which are then passed in feces which help the growth of new trees. One of the best documented examples on this subject is the exploitation of the Serengeti ecosystem (13,000 km2 National Park in Tanzania) by large herbivores. Limiting ourselves to the most numerous species of this national park, we find that some species are sedentary: not dependant on the need to drink like the Grant’s gazelles and the Oryx and remain in the plain during the dry season. Other species are migrants and have an annual migration from the herbaceous dry plains to the woodland of Acacia. Three migratory species have been particularly studied because of their size and their...
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