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African Wild Ungulates Compete with or Facilitate Cattle Depending on Season

Science  23 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6050, pp. 1753-1755
DOI: 10.1126/science.1208468

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Abstract

Savannas worldwide are vital for both socioeconomic and biodiversity values. In these ecosystems, management decisions are based on the perception that wildlife and livestock compete for food, yet there are virtually no experimental data to support this assumption. We examined the effects of wild African ungulates on cattle performance, food intake, and diet quality. Wild ungulates depressed cattle food intake and performance during the dry season (competition) but enhanced cattle diet quality and performance during the wet season (facilitation). These results extend our understanding of the context-dependent–competition-facilitation balance, in general, and are critical for better understanding and managing wildlife-livestock coexistence in human-occupied savanna landscapes.

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