Comment un herbivore surabondant bénéficie des ressources dépendantes, indépendantes ou découplées de la pression de broutement

Authors: Giroux, Marie-Andrée
Advisor: Côté, Steeve D.Tremblay, Jean-Pierre
Abstract: Herbivores can induce major modifications to plant communities that can reduce forage abundance and lead to a retroaction between the size of herbivore populations and their growth rates. Such a feedback loop can be generated by a reduction in body mass at high herbivore density, followed by a reduction in survival and reproduction. Despite the lasting deterioration of plant communities on Anticosti Island (Québec, Canada) following the introduction of a white-tailed deer population in absence of natural predation, the size of this population has remained high during the last decades. One of the mechanisms suggested to explain this situation is the use of sources of forage independent or temporally uncoupled from deer browsing pressure. Two types of forage used by deer on Anticosti Island are considered independent or temporally uncoupled from deer browsing, namely drifted seaweed and balsam fir. We determined how body mass of deer on Anticosti Island is influenced by sources of forage that are dependent, independent and temporally uncoupled from deer browsing. First, we demonstrated experimentally that deer density had a negative effect on the summer abundance of preferred forbs and shrubs, which in turn had a positive effect on body mass in the fall. Second, we demonstrated that the contribution of seaweed to diet outside winter was smaller than 23% and did not explain variations in body mass in the fall. Fall body mass rather increased with the contribution of plants from open habitat to diet. Third, we demonstrated that overwinter mass loss decreased with the use of balsam fir stands during a harsh winter. Our findings provide a better understanding of how overabundant herbivores can benefit from sources of forage influenced to varying degrees by browsing. The next step would be to determine the impact of these different resources on the growth rate of overabundant herbivore populations.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2014
Open Access Date: 20 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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