Seasonal variation in the relative dominance of herbivore guilds in an African savanna
J. van Rensburg, B.
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African savannas are highly seasonal with a diverse array of both mammalian and invertebrate herbivores, yet herbivory studies have focused almost exclusively on mammals. We conducted a 2-yr exclosure experiment in South Africa’s Kruger National Park to measure the relative impact of these two groups of herbivores on grass removal at both highly productive patches (termite mounds) and in the less productive savanna matrix. Invertebrate and mammalian herbivory was greater on termite mounds, but the relative importance of each group changed over time. Mammalian offtake was higher than invertebrates in the dry season, but can be eclipsed by invertebrates during the wet season when this group is more active. Our results demonstrate that invertebrates play a substantial role in savanna herbivory and should not be disregarded in attempts to understand the impacts of herbivory on ecosystems.