Resource partitioning between sympatric wild and domestic herbivores in the Tarangire region of Tanzania
- Cite this article as:
- Voeten, M. & Prins, H. Oecologia (1999) 120: 287. doi:10.1007/s004420050860
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The effect of the introduction of an exotic species (cattle) into a native African herbivore assemblage was investigated by studying resource partitioning between zebu cattle, wildebeest and zebra. Resource partitioning was investigated by analysing grass sward characteristics (such as sward height and percentage nitrogen in leaves) of feeding sites selected by the different herbivore species. Linear discriminant analysis was used to determine whether a distinction could be made between feeding sites selected by the different animal species or whether the animal species showed overlap in resource use by selecting similar feeding sites. Wildebeest and zebra did not show overlap in resource use except in the wet season when resources were ample. Cattle showed overlap in resource use with zebra in the early wet season and with wildebeest in the early dry season, seasons when food limitation is likely. In the wet season, cattle showed overlap in resource use with both zebra and wildebeest.
Implications of these results for competitive relationships between livestock and wildlife are discussed. We suggest that interpretation of overlap in resource use may be different for an assemblage of long-term coexisting native species as compared to an assemblage of native and exotic species. Among native herbivores, overlap in resource use is not expected based on evolutionary segregation. In a native assemblage to which an exotic species has been introduced, however, overlap in resource use can occur under food-limited conditions and consequently implies competition.