Original Articles

Plant palatability assessment and its implications for plant‐herbivore relations

DOI: 10.1080/02566702.1988.9648113
Author(s): N. Owen‐SmithResource Ecology Group, Department of Zoology,, S.M. CooperResource Ecology Group, Department of Zoology,

Abstract

An objective method used to assess the palatability of the foliage of woody plant species to kudus, impalas and goats is described. Observations were made on the feeding behaviour of tame animals in the Nylslvey Nature Reserve in northern Transvaal bushveld. Seasonal variations in acceptance/rejection frequencies were used to assign plant species to palatability categories, allowing for the effects of thorns on leaf accessibility. Palatable species remained highly acceptable year‐round, while unpalatable species were eaten during restricted time periods. The design of appropriate acceptability indices for particular animal species is discussed. Interrelationships between palatability and leaf chemistry, soil nutrient status and inherent plant growth rates are indicated.

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