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:9/30/2015)... , Sept. 30, 2015  With nearly 300,000 Americans ... of new SCIs estimated to reach 12,500 annually, the ... California Resource Services for Independent Living (SCRS-IL) is ... California opening doors to independence ... programs and services, notably assistive technology services and education. ...
(Date:9/29/2015)... 29, 2015 News facts: ... also saving energy , Minimized design shrinks PC ... Active Mode and embedded Fujitsu PalmSecure authentication enable enterprises ... Fujitsu today shows that good things come in small ... to its enterprise desktop and mobile portfolio. Featuring workplace ...
(Date:9/28/2015)... YORK , Sept. 28, 2015  The ... respiration rate and body temperature, is an essential ... can be indicators of deterioration in a patient,s ... hospital, vital signs are typically taken during routine ... hours. If a patient deteriorates between these observation ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2015)... This report covers the global cell expansion ... applications, end-user markets and geographic segmentation. Forecasts are provided ... cell expansion market generated revenue of roughly $8.5 billion ... $9.7 billion in 2015 and $22.0 billion by 2020, ... from 2015 to 2020. This report provides: ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... Oct. 12, 2015  Patara Pharma, a clinical-stage ... inflammatory diseases and conditions, today announced the closing ... financing. Concurrent with the close of its sale ... Loan and Security Agreement with Silicon Valley Bank ... million. Patara will use the funds from the ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... ... October 12, 2015 , ... NeuMedics Inc., is a specialty biopharmaceutical company focused ... safely and chronically be administered as an eye drop, announced today it has been ... Clinic and taking place October 25th to October 28th at The Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, ...
(Date:10/9/2015)... ANNAPOLIS, Md. , Oct. 9, 2015 ... entered into the Congressional Record her statement recognizing the ... celebrated October 11-17. IPAW is sponsored by the ... companies, and is designed to:   , Raise ... contributions of plasma donors in saving and improving lives ...
Breaking Biology Technology: