Seasonal resource use and niche breadth in an assemblage of coexisting grazers in a fenced Park


Many small Parks inKenyaare being fenced to control human-wildlife conflict. Some of these Parks have a diversity of large herbivores which might increase in density in the wake of fencing and subsequent compression of their home ranges due to closure of their migratory routes. It is important to understand the consequences of such an increase on the structuring of insularised herbivore assemblages in such Parks. We studied seasonal resource segregation and niche breadth variation as mechanisms of coexistence in a high density grazer assemblage inLakeNakuruNational Parkwhich is small and completely fenced. Diet composition and habitat use were considered as variables of resource use. We predicted that overlap in resource use and niche breadth would be the smallest among grazers with similar body weights in the dry season which is the most resource limiting for grazers in East Africa. Our results were contrary to the predictions because of lack of seasonal differentiation in the overlap of diet composition and habitat use, and in niche breadth. Overlaps in resource use were consistently high during both the wet and dry seasons, and niche breadth contraction during the dry season was not possible probably because of lack of species-specific niches during the dry season. Our results suggest that there might be competitive interactions in this grazer assemblage which is an important parameter to consider in the management of the Park.

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Mwasi, S. , Wieren, S. , Heitkönig, I. and Prins, H. (2013) Seasonal resource use and niche breadth in an assemblage of coexisting grazers in a fenced Park. Open Journal of Ecology, 3, 383-388. doi: 10.4236/oje.2013.36043.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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