Effects of subterranean herbivores on vegetation

TitleEffects of subterranean herbivores on vegetation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsHuntly, N, Reichman, OJ
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Pagination852 -859
Accession NumberKNZ00449
Keywordsburrows, diet, fossorial mammals

Fossorial herbivores are common in Eurasia, North and South America, and Africa, particularly in arid and semiarid regions. There is ample evidence, although often indirect and semiquantitative, that they have local and broad-scale effects on vegetation. These effects arise from feeding, harvesting, and caching, local soil disturbances, and longer-term changes in soil structure and topography, many aspects of which are similar among the diversity of fossorial herbivores. Often, the net effect of these animals' activities is alteration of composition of plant species and increased plant diversity. Standing crop of plants often is reduced, and long- and short-term changes in productivity can occur. Better understanding of the rules that govern diet selection and burrow size, dynamics, and geometry are needed to predict effects of these animals under specific environmental conditions.