Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 85, Issue 3, pp 397–409

Differential forage use between large native and domestic herbivores in Southern Patagonian Nothofagus forests

  • Rosina Soler Esteban
  • Guillermo Martínez Pastur
  • María Vanessa Lencinas
  • Laura Borrelli

DOI: 10.1007/s10457-011-9430-3

Cite this article as:
Soler Esteban, R., Martínez Pastur, G., Lencinas, M.V. et al. Agroforest Syst (2012) 85: 397. doi:10.1007/s10457-011-9430-3


Plant—animal interactions at the landscape level become particularly relevant when land use is diversified. Nothofagus forests in southern Patagonia have been used for timber and cattle grazing purposes during the last century, causing livestock to increase (Bos taurus and Ovis aries) and large native herbivores, such as guanaco (Lama guanicoe), either maintained or decreased their populations. Within this scenario, feeding interactions between guanaco and domestic herbivores were analysed in a mosaic of open habitats and different Nothofagus forest types and management histories, whereby a total of six habitat types were identified through satellite image analysis. A total of 205 floristic surveys were conducted to characterize the plant species composition at the landscape level. Diet composition of herbivores was assessed once each season during a year, using microhistological analysis of feces. Results showed higher plant richness in open lands and lower in closed, unmanaged forests. Overall, 43 plant taxa were detected in herbivore feces, which represent 56% of plant richness detected in the field. Both guanacos and domestic herbivores included mainly grasses in their diet, which were found predominantly in open lands. Tree seedlings and saplings were consumed by all herbivores, as well, except during winter. Differential forage use between guanaco and domestic herbivores in southern Patagonian Nothofagus forests did exist. However, competition for available resources among theses herbivores resulted in an alternation of feeding sites, which varied throughout the year. Management plans in southern Southern Patagonia (livestock, silvopastoral plans and timber harvesting) do not consider the direct or indirect consequences on guanaco populations. The challenge, therefore, is to generate management decisions to avoid either guanacos or domestic herbivores from becoming detrimental to the sustainability of managed forested ecosystems.


BrowsingFecal micro-histological analysisForest managementLandscape analysisPlant life forms



Nothofagus antarctica forests


N. pumilio forests


Old harvested N. pumilio forests


Primary unmanaged N. pumilio forests


Recently harvested N. pumilio forests

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosina Soler Esteban
    • 1
  • Guillermo Martínez Pastur
    • 1
  • María Vanessa Lencinas
    • 1
  • Laura Borrelli
    • 2
  1. 1.Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC CONICET)Tierra del FuegoArgentina
  2. 2.Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA EEA Bariloche)Río NegroArgentina