Original Articles

Feeding niches of four large herbivores in the hluhluwe game reserve, natal1


Abstract

The differences and similarities between buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and white rhino, with respect to the variables characterizing their feeding localities, were determined using a discriminant function analysis. The dimensions of the community niche are described using the Latent Roots and their associated vectors extracted from a matrix whose elements represent the values of each habitat variable at each feeding site. The location of each herbivore species niche within the community niche is established and the variables responsible for niche separation and those with respect to which niche overlap occurs are indicated. The height of the grass layer is the most important variable relating to separation, and the importance of niche overlap in this respect is emphasized. Shrub canopy cover is found to be important in achieving separation of buffalo. Choice of habitat type is discussed.

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