Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rabbits, Mice And Prickly Shrubs Help Establish Natural Diversity

Date:
July 7, 2008
Source:
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Summary:
Small mammals, such as rabbits and mice, play a major role in the development of natural diversity. Biologists researched how scrub becomes established in natural grassland. It seems that prickly shrubs are important in protecting plants and preventing animal species from grazing. Researchers have also demonstrated that natural disturbances such as flooding and animal diseases are very important for the diversity of natural areas.

Dutch Rubicon laureate Chris Smit has concluded that small mammals, such as rabbits and mice, play a major role in the development of natural diversity. Smit researched how scrub becomes established in natural grassland. It seems that prickly shrubs are important in protecting plants and preventing animal species from grazing.

Related Articles


Smit has also demonstrated that natural disturbances such as flooding and animal diseases are very important for the diversity of natural areas.

Smit investigated a large number of blackthorn seedlings between five and ten years old in the Junner Koeland, a 100 ha, species-rich natural area along the Overijsselse Vecht river, which has been grazed extensively for centuries. Young blackthorns have scarcely been spotted there over the past 30 years. These observations coincided with a considerable reduction in the rabbit population since the end of the 1990s, caused by the disease viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS).

The establishment of scrub is an important process that leads to greater variation and diversity in a landscape. Prickly shrubs such as blackthorn and hawthorn provide a valuable safe haven for many plant and animal species. The thorns protect these plants and animals from grazing by large mammals.

Smit’s experiments show that blackthorn seeds under the scrub are quickly eaten by small mammals such as mice. Thorns provide no protection against this. However, Smit discovered that the young plants in the Junner Koeland frequently grew in recently flooded sections among high vegetation that was inedible for grazers.

Blackthorn seeds in the inedible vegetation have better chances of survival. Thus, large and small grazers together limit the spread of blackthorn, with the influence of the small grazers seeming to be the greater. Current nature management policies will need to take more account of the importance of small mammals and natural disturbances when it comes to the diversity of natural grasslands.

Natural diversity

Large grazers have now been introduced on a wide scale in Dutch natural areas. One of the main aims of this introduction is to promote greater natural diversity in the landscape. Greater diversity leads to more plant and animal species. This will please many people, from conservationists to tourists.

A young oak tree, for example, which represents a tasty meal for large grazers, is only safe from them within prickly shrubs. Ultimately, this leads to magnificent single oaks surrounded by a mantle of scrub.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. "Rabbits, Mice And Prickly Shrubs Help Establish Natural Diversity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080703113617.htm>.
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. (2008, July 7). Rabbits, Mice And Prickly Shrubs Help Establish Natural Diversity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080703113617.htm
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. "Rabbits, Mice And Prickly Shrubs Help Establish Natural Diversity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080703113617.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins