Grazer‐dominated Ecosystems

Abstract

Grazer‐dominated ecosystems are characterized by removal of significant amounts of net primary production by grazing animals and subsequent impacts on elemental budgets, species composition and fire regimes, all of which are manifest on physiological to evolutionary time scales.

Keywords: grazing; grasslands; shrublands; herbivory; ecosystem ecology

Figure 1.

Global distribution of grazing lands including grasslands (light grey) and shrublands (dark grey).

Figure 2.

Response of aboveground net primary production (ANPP) to grazing as a function of percentage of biomass consumed. Data taken from Milchunas and Lauenroth .

Figure 3.

Schematic explaining structural and biogeochemical responses to grazing in the Central Great Plains Region, USA. Data are a composite of a number of published studies (see Conant et al., , and Milchunas and Lauenroth, , for more information).

Figure 4.

Climatic and atmospheric controls on distribution of C3 and C4 grass species based on current and historic data (Ehleringer et al., ).

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References

Conant RT, Paustian K and Elliott ET (2001) Grassland management and conversion into grassland: Effects on soil carbon. Ecological Applications 11: 343–355.

Costanza R, d'Arge R, de Groot R et al. (1997) The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387: 253–260.

Ehleringer JR, Cerling TE and Helliker BR (1997) C4 photosynthesis, atmospheric CO2 and climate. Oecologia 112: 285–299.

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Milchunas DG and Lauenroth WK (1993) Quantitative effects of grazing on vegetation and soils over a global range of environments. Ecological Monographs 63: 327–366.

Oldeman LR (1994) The global extent of soil degradation. In: Greenland DJ and Szabolcs I (eds) Soil Resilience and Sustainable Land Use, pp. 99–118. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

Sampson RN, Scholes RJ, Cerri C et al. (2000) Additional human‐induced activities – article 3.4. In: Watson RT, Noble IR, Bolin B, Ravindranath NH, Verardo DJ and Dokken DJ (eds) Land Use, Land‐Use Change, and Forestry, pp. 180–281. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Further Reading

Coupland RT (ed.) (1993) Natural Grasslands: Eastern Hemisphere and Resume. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Coupland RT (ed.) (1993) Natural Grasslands: Introduction and Western Hemisphere. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Holecheck JL, Pieper RD and Herbel CH (1995) Range Management: Principles and Practices. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Simon and Schuster.

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How to Cite close
Conant, Richard T(Mar 2003) Grazer‐dominated Ecosystems. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003195]