Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Zebras vs. cattle: Not so black-and-white

23.09.2011
Grazing by wild animals like zebra doesn't always harm, and may help, livestock like cattle

African ranchers often prefer to keep wild grazers like zebras off the grass that fattens their cattle.

But a new study by Kenyan and University of California at Davis researchers shows that grazing by wild animals doesn't always harm, and may sometimes benefit, cattle.

The results are published in this week's issue of the journal Science.

"Although savanna rangelands worldwide are managed on the premise that cattle and wildlife compete for food, there is little scientific information to support this assumption," said Wilfred Odadi, a researcher at the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya and a co-author of the paper.

"When we look at the effect of wildlife on cattle, we find that they sometimes do suppress weight gain by cattle, but also sometimes enhance it," said Truman Young, a plant scientist at UC Davis and lead author of the paper.

"Generally the decision has been to exclude wild animals, but we're saying that things are not that simple," Young said.

"The finding that wildlife has a positive effect on cattle growth and production during times of plenty adds new insight into the role that facilitation plays in natural communities," said Saran Twombly, program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research.

"Results from this study also speak directly to the critical importance of biodiversity in maintaining natural ecosystems," Twombly said.

The researchers enclosed 10-acre plots of savanna rangeland with fences to exclude wild animals--principally zebras.

Then they weighed the cattle grazing either with or without wild grazers to measure how much weight they put on at different times of the year, which is the bottom-line for ranchers.

Odadi and colleagues found that during the dry season, grazing by wild animals reduced weight gain by cattle, but in the wet season, cattle actually put on more weight when they grazed alongside wildlife.

The explanation is that during the wet season, grass can grow long and become rank, inaccessible and poor in nutritional value.

"When the grass grows very fast and is at risk of becoming rank, having zebras is beneficial," Young said. "They are more than willing to knock back the rank grass."

That means higher-quality, fresher grass for the cattle.

It's not yet clear whether there is a net benefit over a whole year or series of years, Young said, because conditions can vary considerably from year to year. Ranchers are beginning to explore additional ways to control rank grass, such as controlled burns.

"From a management perspective, the positive effect of wildlife on weight gain by cattle during the wet season suggests that wildlife conservation is not necessarily detrimental to, and can be compatible with, cattle production," Odadi said.

"Our findings provide further evidence that biodiversity conservation and economic development can be simultaneously achieved in human-occupied savanna landscapes."

Other co-authors of the paper are Moses Karachi, Egerton University, Kenya, and Shaukat Abdulrazak, National Council for Science and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya.

The work also was funded by the Smithsonian Institution, the National Geographic Society, the African Elephant Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the International Foundation for Science.

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>