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Chemical mediation of plant-herbivore interactions in Mediterranean ecosystems - modelling vegetation responses to ungulate browsing intensity


Plants can respond to herbivory by allocating resources to either chemical defence or regrowtb foliage. Evergreen Mediterranean woody plants are associated with nutrient-poor habitats, where biomass lost to herbivory is difficult to replace because ot nutrient deficiency, favouring plants with high levels of chemical defences. The study, focused on plant-deer interactions in Mediterranean ecosystems, will test the hypothesis that plant responses to herbivory play a key role in structuring the vegetation in these communities. The results from a combination of field and laboratory experiments, integrated with data already collected in the study area and a GIS vegetation map, will be used to produce a predictive mathematical model of the impacts of deer browsing on the plant community in different habitat types and seasons. This model, will be a valuable tool for the management of both ungulate and plant communities in Mediterranean ecosystems, which are little-studied, but of high conservation value.

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Natural Environment Research Council
Hill of brathens
AB31 4BY Aberdeen
United Kingdom

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