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Effect of fire on the palatability of plants in an African woodland savanna: varying impacts depending on plant functional groups

Stolter, Caroline and Joubert, David F. and Uunona, Nekulilo and Nghalipo, Elise and Amputu, Vistorina and Felton, Annika (2022). Effect of fire on the palatability of plants in an African woodland savanna: varying impacts depending on plant functional groups. PeerJ. 10 , e12721
[Research article]

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Abstract

Fire and herbivores are two important drivers of changes in vegetation composition, quality and dynamics and both are highly related to each other. Herbivores are known to respond to fire both in terms of foraging decisions and distribution. However, little is known about the actual changes in plant chemistry following a fire event and how long these changes will last. We investigated the effect of fire on two different plant functional groups (grasses and woody species) in a woodland savanna of southern Africa. We studied chemical compounds known to be important for palatability of five perennial grass and seven woody species (trees and shrubs) common in the woodland savanna and known to be utilized by herbivores. We wanted to know if plant chemistry differs between a recently burned site (burned 2 years ago) and a control site, burned 16 years ago, and if grasses and woody species show similar relative differences between sites (i.e., the plants' response to fire). We found a clear difference in chemical composition patterns between the plant functional groups, with an almost homogenous response to fire among woody species, but higher variability in response among grass species. Furthermore, we found that woody species maintained a higher nutritional value even 2 years after burning, whereas grasses did not show clear differences among the two investigated sites. Hence, few years after burning, woody plants might still serve as an attraction for herbivores, especially browsers, in contrast to grasses. The knowledge about these differences between the two functional groups in response to fire is beneficial for the development of management strategies for large herbivores whether domestic or wild.

Authors/Creators:Stolter, Caroline and Joubert, David F. and Uunona, Nekulilo and Nghalipo, Elise and Amputu, Vistorina and Felton, Annika
Title:Effect of fire on the palatability of plants in an African woodland savanna: varying impacts depending on plant functional groups
Series Name/Journal:PeerJ
Year of publishing :2022
Volume:10
Article number:e12721
Number of Pages:26
Publisher:PEERJ INC
ISSN:2167-8359
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Zoology
Keywords:Grassland, Rangeland, Feed, Plant response, Fire, Plant quality, Herbivores, Grasses, Trees, Food quality
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116497
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116497
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.7717/peerj.12721
Web of Science (WoS)000759233000005
ID Code:27541
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:13 Apr 2022 07:25
Metadata Last Modified:13 Apr 2022 07:31

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