Navigation Links
Tasty meal out of reach

Dutch Rubicon laureate Chris Smit has concluded that small mammals, such as rabbits and mice, play a major role in the development of natural diversity. Smit researched how scrub becomes established in natural grassland. It seems that prickly shrubs are important in protecting plants and preventing animal species from grazing. Smit has also demonstrated that natural disturbances such as flooding and animal diseases are very important for the diversity of natural areas.

Smit investigated a large number of blackthorn seedlings between five and ten years old in the Junner Koeland, a 100 ha, species-rich natural area along the Overijsselse Vecht river, which has been grazed extensively for centuries. Young blackthorns have scarcely been spotted there over the past 30 years. These observations coincided with a considerable reduction in the rabbit population since the end of the 1990s, caused by the disease viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS).

The establishment of scrub is an important process that leads to greater variation and diversity in a landscape. Prickly shrubs such as blackthorn and hawthorn provide a valuable safe haven for many plant and animal species. The thorns protect these plants and animals from grazing by large mammals.

Smit's experiments show that blackthorn seeds under the scrub are quickly eaten by small mammals such as mice. Thorns provide no protection against this. However, Smit discovered that the young plants in the Junner Koeland frequently grew in recently flooded sections among high vegetation that was inedible for grazers. Blackthorn seeds in the inedible vegetation have better chances of survival. Thus, large and small grazers together limit the spread of blackthorn, with the influence of the small grazers seeming to be the greater. Current nature management policies will need to take more account of the importance of small mammals and natural disturbances when it comes to the diversity of natural grasslands.

Natural diversity

Large grazers have now been introduced on a wide scale in Dutch natural areas. One of the main aims of this introduction is to promote greater natural diversity in the landscape. Greater diversity leads to more plant and animal species. This will please many people, from conservationists to tourists. A young oak tree, for example, which represents a tasty meal for large grazers, is only safe from them within prickly shrubs. Ultimately, this leads to magnificent single oaks surrounded by a mantle of scrub.


Contact: Chris Smit
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Related biology news :

1. Cogent Systems and Northrop Grumman Reach Agreement to Settle Automated Fingerprint Identification Technology Suit and Create Strategic Alliance
2. Rutgers high school outreach gets $3 million boost from NSF
3. Cogent Systems and Northrop Grumman Reach Agreement to Settle Automated Fingerprint Identification Technology Suit and Create Strategic Alliance
4. Thinking makes it so: Science extends reach of prosthetic arms
5. Carnivores in recent study help Bergmanns rule reach the 21st century
6. Private Rocketeers reach for space -- science writer in Canada to explain
7. Undergraduate bioscience research reaches new horizons
8. APS names 2 minority outreach fellows
9. PNNL reaches goal to change world one light at a time
10. Montana State University research reaches Supreme Court of India
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)... , Nov. 17, 2015  Vigilant Solutions announces today ... its Board of Directors. --> ... recently retiring from the partnership at TPG Capital, one ... with over $140 Billion in revenue.  He founded and ... all the TPG companies, from 1997 to 2013.  In ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... , Nov. 11, 2015   Growing need ... analytical tools has been paving the way for ... determination of discrete analytes in clinical, agricultural, environmental, ... being predominantly used in medical applications, however, their ... sectors due to continuous emphasis on improving product ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ), the ... entry into the automotive market with a comprehensive and ... of consumer electronics human interface innovation. Synaptics, industry-leading touch ... the automotive industry and will be implemented in numerous ... , Japan , and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Telbec/ - ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: PLI) (OTCQX: PFSCF) ... Laurin , President and Chief Executive Officer of ProMetic, will ... 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference to be held at ... st , at 8.50am (ET) and ProMetic,s management ... The presentation will be available live via a webcast accessible ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Va. , Nov. 24, 2015 ... focused on discovering drugs for metabolic disorders, announced ... to its Board of Directors (BOD). Mr. ... officer of Human Genome Sciences (HGS), and also ... Organization. Jim Powers , Chairman and ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... and NEW YORK , November 24, ... investment by Bristol-Myers Squibb in a European ... Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in which the companies will work ... immuno-oncology and other areas of unmet medical need. The collaboration ... LSP 5, the latest LSP fund. This is the first ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- According to two new studies, fewer men are having ... many doctors, scientists, and public health experts have been pushing ... tests being done, will there be more men dying of ... "Despite the efforts made in regards to early detection ... cause of death in men, killing approximately 27,500 men this ...
Breaking Biology Technology: