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The response of Mediterranean herbaceous community to soil disturbance by native wild boars

Dovrat, Guy, Perevolotsky, Avi, Ne’eman, Gidi
Plant ecology 2014 v.215 no.5 pp. 531-541
Sus scrofa, biomass, disturbed soils, herbaceous plants, plant communities, rooting, soil ecology, species diversity, spring, summer, vegetation, wild boars, winter
Native wild boar (Sus scrofa lybicus) populations in Israel increased in the last decades, and their rooting activity presents an apparent severe disturbance that may affect herbaceous plant communities. We studied the extent of wild boar rooting and its effect on herbaceous vegetation in an east Mediterranean garrigue. We compared the effects of rooting soil disturbance (RSD) between summer, winter, and RSD-free control plots on herbaceous plants. RSD affected four percent of the area covered by herbaceous vegetation in winter and spring, and only 2 % in summer. Summer RSD increased herbaceous species diversity in the following spring by decreasing the abundance of the dominant species, but it did not affect total herbaceous biomass. Winter RSD lowered herbaceous biomass but did not affect herbaceous plant abundance or diversity. We conclude that Mediterranean herbaceous plant community appears to be resilient to RSD, causing only minor changes in species composition and small decrease of their biomass. The contrast between the relatively large extent of wild boars RSD, and its limited impact on the herbaceous plant community, can be attributed to the long mutual evolutionary history of wild boars and these vegetation communities.