We have studied the effect of goat grazing on the shrub understory of a pine forest situated in a protected area (Doñana Natural Park). Along three years we have studied the changes in phytovolume, flammability, species richness and diversity in a grazed shrubland and in a control area not grazed by the goats. We studied also food preferences of the goats and the ability of the goats to disperse the seeds of the plants they eat. Goat grazing significantly reduced shrub biomass and flammability, decreasing the risk of forest fire. Goats selected the species they eat, changing the pattern of selection throughout the year. Grazing reduced shrub diversity, but did not affected species richness. The goats can also potentially disperse the seeds of some of the species they eat, since the seeds were able to pass through the goat’s gut and germinated afterwards. Goat grazing on scrub vegetation can be used as an effective tool for the control of shrubs in protected forest areas, without losing biodiversity.
Russian Journal of Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 3, 2014
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