Interactions between large African browsers and thorny Acacia on a wildlife ranch in Kenya

Some plants respond to browsing with compensatory regrowth of plant tissues and with increased thorn growth. Associations between browsers and their preferred forage were examined through wandering quarter vegetation sampling and observational studies in an effort to understand how some plants respond to browsing by large African herbivores. Acacia seyal (n = 2680) A. drepanolobium (n = 1850), and Balanites glabra (n = 960) were three species of frequently browsed indigenous plants examined on Game Ranching Ltd. in Kenya. There were several statistically significant associations revealed. Individual A. seyal exposed to intensive browser utilization were observed to lose shoot tips, produce long thorns, and have relatively few flowers and fruits. Browser utilization was associated with increased lateral branching in A. drepanolobium and with an increased occurrence of short, thickened spines in B. glabra. Thorns, spines and flowers were measurable indicators of relative browser utilization, and may be useful features to monitor in the management of large African mammals and their prickly forage.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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