Herbivore dung quality affects plant community diversity

E. Valdés-Correcher, J. Sitters, M.J. Wassen, N. Brion, Harry Olde Venterink (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Nutrient availability is important for plant community composition and diversity, but most studies focus on inorganic nutrients. Far less is known about the impact of nutrients in organic forms such as herbivore dung. Here we show that dung of 11 European herbivore species varies widely in nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations, as well as in C:N:P ratios. We demonstrate that variation in dung quality of five herbivore species influences the diversity and composition of a mesocosm plant community. The impact of dung quality was at least as strong as, or stronger than, the effect of manipulating the quantity of dung by a factor six. Our study supports the hypothesis that both nutrient quantity and nutrient imbalances are important controlling factors for plant species diversity, and stresses the important role of herbivores on plant communities, not only via selective foraging, but also via stoichiometric variation of nutrients in their dung.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5675(2019)
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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