Original Articles

Habitat use by indigenous grazing ungulates in relation to sward structure and veld condition

DOI: 10.1080/02566702.1990.9648199
Author(s): P. Novellie, Republic of South Africa


The objective of the study was to examine the relationships between the habitat requirements of different wild ungulate species, sward structure and veld condition. Veld condition score was correlated with sward height: habitats with high condition scores were dominated by tall grass species, whereas habitats with low scores were dominated by short grasses. This was because grass species that decrease as a result of heavy grazing ('decreaser’ species) are typically tall, whereas those that are promoted by grazing ('increaser’ species) are typically short. Grazers that require tall grasses (mountain zebra and red hartebeest) favoured habitat with high condition scores, whereas short grass grazers (black wildebeest) favoured range with low condition scores. The patch‐selective grazing habits of the short grass grazers tended to create short grass lawns dominated by increaser grasses. The relevance of veld condition assessment for areas managed to support wild grazing ungulates is discussed.

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