Does size really matter? The effects of herbivore body size on ecosystem processes

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Haynes, Alan; Schütz, Martin; Filli, Flurin; Risch, Anita C (2012): Does size really matter? The effects of herbivore body size on ecosystem processes. figshare.
Retrieved 11:15, Nov 28, 2015 (GMT)


This project is aimed at investigating trophic cascades originating from the successive exclusion of herbivores of various sizes from subalpine grasslands of the Swiss National Park (SNP). Historical grazing patterns in the SNP have developed two distinct vegetation types – heavily grazed short grass vegetation and lightly grazed tall grass vegetation – derived from former land use which differ in vegetation quality, community composition and usage by herbivores. This poster presents some of the methods we use to study how herbivore exclusion affects ecosystem properties and processes.

Comments (2)

  • Is it possible that it's not just individual body size, but rather total biomass of a particular herbivore? For instance, the notion that ants in the tropics have more mass/hectare than vertebrates. Thinking of things like leafcutter ants or some bark beetle or forest defoliator outbreaks. In each case the individuals are very small (compared to, say, an elk), but the cumulative impact can be much higher in their particular system.


    Looks like it's going to be an interesting project!

    11/12/2012    by D. Huber

  • Sure, thats certainly going to be the case. Initial results do suggest that exclusion of ungulates increases biomass and that exclusion of invertebrates increases biomass to a similar extent to that of the ungulates, most likely due to the much larger community of invertebrates relative to ungulates. I will be presenting these results at the British Ecological Society meeting next week, and intend to put up commented slides and poster shortly before or after.

    13/12/2012    by A. Haynes

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