The effects of horses, rabbits and coypu on plant succession were studied in five different vegetation types in the Camargue (southern France) over three years. The horses had a very marked effect on a Scirpus maritimus-Phragmites marsh, considerably reducing the amount of the two main species. In the other sites, the effects were less drastic. In the two grassland areas, they reduced the vegetation height in the third year, and there was also a change in species composition at one site which was used more intensively than the other. In a second marsh site, they caused a reduction in the amount of the dominant grass (Aeluropus litoralis), while they controlled the quantity of two of the principal species of a dwarf serub area (Halimione portulacoides and Puccinellia distans). The effects of the rabbits and coypu, on the other hand, were not very pronounced. Very high rainfall during the experiment was an important constraint on succession. These are preliminary results from a long term study of vegetation dynamics in the area.
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I should like to thank Dr P. Duncan and Dr P. Heurteaux for providing unpublished data on horse distribution and climatic conditions; Mr V. Boy for running the computer analyses; Dr P. Duncan, Mme V. Podlejski and referees for their comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript; Mme Ch. Heurteaux for typing the manuscript; and all the staff at Tour du Valat who helped to build the exclosures. Research facilities were provided by Dr. L. Hoffmann and the Fondation Tour du Valat, and the work was funded by a grant from the Basler Stiftung für Biologische Forschung.
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Bassett, P.A. Some effects of grazing on vegetation dynamics in the Camargue, France. Vegetatio 43, 173–184 (1980). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00158747
- Plant succession
- Vegetation dynamics