Foliar nutritional quality explains patchy browsing damage caused by an invasive mammal

Hannah Windley, Mandy Barron, E. Penelope Holland, Danswell Starrs, Wendy RUSCOE, William Foley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    1 Citation (Scopus)
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    Abstract

    Introduced herbivores frequently inflict significant, yet patchy damage on native ecosystems through selective browsing. However, there are few instances where the underlying cause of this patchy damage has been revealed. We aimed to determine if the nutritional quality of foliage could predict the browsing preferences of an invasive mammalian herbivore, the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), in a temperate forest in New Zealand. We quantified the spatial and temporal variation in four key aspects of the foliar chemistry (total nitrogen, available nitrogen, in vitro dry matter digestibility and tannin effect) of 275 trees representing five native tree species. Simultaneously, we assessed the severity of browsing damage caused by possums on those trees in order to relate selective browsing to foliar nutritional quality. We found significant spatial and temporal variation in nutritional quality among individuals of each tree species examined, as well as among tree species. There was a positive relationship between the available nitrogen concentration of foliage (a measure of in vitro digestible protein) and the severity of damage caused by browsing by possums. This study highlights the importance of nutritional quality, specifically, the foliar available nitrogen concentration of individual trees, in predicting the impact of an invasive mammal. Revealing the underlying cause of patchy browsing by an invasive mammal provides new insights for conservation of native forests and targeted control of invasive herbivores in forest ecosystems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume11
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2016

    Fingerprint

    Mammals
    Nutritive Value
    browsing
    Nitrogen
    nutritive value
    Herbivory
    mammals
    Ecosystems
    herbivores
    Ecosystem
    nitrogen
    Trichosurus
    temporal variation
    spatial variation
    Tannins
    Trichosurus vulpecula
    Conservation
    New Zealand
    temperate forests
    digestible protein

    Cite this

    Windley, H., Barron, M., Holland, E. P., Starrs, D., RUSCOE, W., & Foley, W. (2016). Foliar nutritional quality explains patchy browsing damage caused by an invasive mammal. PLoS One, 11(5), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155216
    Windley, Hannah ; Barron, Mandy ; Holland, E. Penelope ; Starrs, Danswell ; RUSCOE, Wendy ; Foley, William. / Foliar nutritional quality explains patchy browsing damage caused by an invasive mammal. In: PLoS One. 2016 ; Vol. 11, No. 5. pp. 1-16.
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    abstract = "Introduced herbivores frequently inflict significant, yet patchy damage on native ecosystems through selective browsing. However, there are few instances where the underlying cause of this patchy damage has been revealed. We aimed to determine if the nutritional quality of foliage could predict the browsing preferences of an invasive mammalian herbivore, the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), in a temperate forest in New Zealand. We quantified the spatial and temporal variation in four key aspects of the foliar chemistry (total nitrogen, available nitrogen, in vitro dry matter digestibility and tannin effect) of 275 trees representing five native tree species. Simultaneously, we assessed the severity of browsing damage caused by possums on those trees in order to relate selective browsing to foliar nutritional quality. We found significant spatial and temporal variation in nutritional quality among individuals of each tree species examined, as well as among tree species. There was a positive relationship between the available nitrogen concentration of foliage (a measure of in vitro digestible protein) and the severity of damage caused by browsing by possums. This study highlights the importance of nutritional quality, specifically, the foliar available nitrogen concentration of individual trees, in predicting the impact of an invasive mammal. Revealing the underlying cause of patchy browsing by an invasive mammal provides new insights for conservation of native forests and targeted control of invasive herbivores in forest ecosystems.",
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    Windley, H, Barron, M, Holland, EP, Starrs, D, RUSCOE, W & Foley, W 2016, 'Foliar nutritional quality explains patchy browsing damage caused by an invasive mammal', PLoS One, vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155216

    Foliar nutritional quality explains patchy browsing damage caused by an invasive mammal. / Windley, Hannah; Barron, Mandy; Holland, E. Penelope; Starrs, Danswell; RUSCOE, Wendy; Foley, William.

    In: PLoS One, Vol. 11, No. 5, 12.05.2016, p. 1-16.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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