Leaf trait-palatability relationships differ between ungulate species: evidence from cafeteria experiments using naive tussock grasses

KM Lloyd, ML Pollock, NWH Mason, WG Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Leaf functional traits have been proposed as general indicators of plant palatability to ungulate herbivores, identifying which species are likely to be most at risk from ungulates, and how ungulate grazing may change ecosystem processes. However, few studies have tested whether leaf trait–palatability relationships are consistent across different ungulate species. The palatability of 44 native New Zealand grass taxa (from the genera Festuca and Chionochloa) to two ungulate herbivores (sheep Ovis aries and red deer Cervus elaphus scoticus) was assessed in cafeteria experiments. There were significant differences between sheep and deer in the selection or avoidance of grass taxa, in part related to differences in response to variation in leaf functional traits. Deer had a greater tendency than sheep to select grasses with a higher specific leaf area (SLA) and to avoid taxa with a low SLA, suggesting that it is not possible to generalise leaf trait–palatability relationships across different ungulate species. Results suggest different ungulate species are likely to have additive effects on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of New Zealand’s native grasslands. These findings indicate that the impacts of ungulate herbivory on ecosystem processes will depend on which grass species are present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219 - 226
Number of pages8
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Ecology
Volume34
Issue number2
Publication statusFirst published - 2010

Fingerprint

palatability
ungulates
grasses
leaves
sheep
herbivores
Cervus elaphus
deer
ecosystems
leaf area
Chionochloa
Festuca
additive effect
indicator species
grasslands
grazing
biodiversity

Bibliographical note

903409

Keywords

  • Cervus elaphus scoticus
  • Chionochloa (570)
  • Festuca
  • Grazing
  • Herbivory preference
  • Ovis aries

Cite this

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title = "Leaf trait-palatability relationships differ between ungulate species: evidence from cafeteria experiments using naive tussock grasses",
abstract = "Leaf functional traits have been proposed as general indicators of plant palatability to ungulate herbivores, identifying which species are likely to be most at risk from ungulates, and how ungulate grazing may change ecosystem processes. However, few studies have tested whether leaf trait–palatability relationships are consistent across different ungulate species. The palatability of 44 native New Zealand grass taxa (from the genera Festuca and Chionochloa) to two ungulate herbivores (sheep Ovis aries and red deer Cervus elaphus scoticus) was assessed in cafeteria experiments. There were significant differences between sheep and deer in the selection or avoidance of grass taxa, in part related to differences in response to variation in leaf functional traits. Deer had a greater tendency than sheep to select grasses with a higher specific leaf area (SLA) and to avoid taxa with a low SLA, suggesting that it is not possible to generalise leaf trait–palatability relationships across different ungulate species. Results suggest different ungulate species are likely to have additive effects on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of New Zealand’s native grasslands. These findings indicate that the impacts of ungulate herbivory on ecosystem processes will depend on which grass species are present.",
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Leaf trait-palatability relationships differ between ungulate species: evidence from cafeteria experiments using naive tussock grasses. / Lloyd, KM; Pollock, ML; Mason, NWH; Lee, WG.

In: New Zealand Journal of Ecology, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2010, p. 219 - 226.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Leaf trait-palatability relationships differ between ungulate species: evidence from cafeteria experiments using naive tussock grasses

AU - Lloyd, KM

AU - Pollock, ML

AU - Mason, NWH

AU - Lee, WG

N1 - 903409

PY - 2010

Y1 - 2010

N2 - Leaf functional traits have been proposed as general indicators of plant palatability to ungulate herbivores, identifying which species are likely to be most at risk from ungulates, and how ungulate grazing may change ecosystem processes. However, few studies have tested whether leaf trait–palatability relationships are consistent across different ungulate species. The palatability of 44 native New Zealand grass taxa (from the genera Festuca and Chionochloa) to two ungulate herbivores (sheep Ovis aries and red deer Cervus elaphus scoticus) was assessed in cafeteria experiments. There were significant differences between sheep and deer in the selection or avoidance of grass taxa, in part related to differences in response to variation in leaf functional traits. Deer had a greater tendency than sheep to select grasses with a higher specific leaf area (SLA) and to avoid taxa with a low SLA, suggesting that it is not possible to generalise leaf trait–palatability relationships across different ungulate species. Results suggest different ungulate species are likely to have additive effects on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of New Zealand’s native grasslands. These findings indicate that the impacts of ungulate herbivory on ecosystem processes will depend on which grass species are present.

AB - Leaf functional traits have been proposed as general indicators of plant palatability to ungulate herbivores, identifying which species are likely to be most at risk from ungulates, and how ungulate grazing may change ecosystem processes. However, few studies have tested whether leaf trait–palatability relationships are consistent across different ungulate species. The palatability of 44 native New Zealand grass taxa (from the genera Festuca and Chionochloa) to two ungulate herbivores (sheep Ovis aries and red deer Cervus elaphus scoticus) was assessed in cafeteria experiments. There were significant differences between sheep and deer in the selection or avoidance of grass taxa, in part related to differences in response to variation in leaf functional traits. Deer had a greater tendency than sheep to select grasses with a higher specific leaf area (SLA) and to avoid taxa with a low SLA, suggesting that it is not possible to generalise leaf trait–palatability relationships across different ungulate species. Results suggest different ungulate species are likely to have additive effects on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of New Zealand’s native grasslands. These findings indicate that the impacts of ungulate herbivory on ecosystem processes will depend on which grass species are present.

KW - Cervus elaphus scoticus

KW - Chionochloa (570)

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