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Understanding of the interaction of livestock grazing and rainfall variability may aid in predicting the patterns of herbaceous species diversity and biomass production. We manipulated the amount of ambient rainfall received in grazed and ungrazed savanna in Lambwe Valley-Kenya. The combined influence of livestock grazing and rainfall on soil moisture, herbaceous species diversity, and aboveground biomass patterns was assessed. We used the number of species (S), Margalef's richness index (D), Shannon index of diversity (H), and Pileou's index of evenness (J) to analyze the herbaceous community structure. S, D, H and J were higher under grazing whereas volumetric soil water contents (VWC) and aboveground biomass (AGB) decreased with grazing. Decreasing (50%) or increasing (150%) the ambient rainfall by 50% lowered species richness and diversity. Seasonality in rainfall influenced the variation in VWC, S, Dmg, H, and AGB but not J (p = 0.43). Overall, D declined with increasing VWC. However, the AGB and D mediated the response of H and J to the changes in VWC. The highest H occurred at AGB range of 400-800 g m. We attribute the lower diversity in the ungrazed plots to the dominance (relative abundance > 70%) of Hyparrhenia fillipendulla (Hochst) Stapf. and Brachiaria decumbens Stapf. Grazing exclusion, which controls AGB, hindered the coexistence among species due to the competitive advantage in resource utilization by the more dominant species. Our findings highlight the implication of livestock grazing and rainfall variability in maintaining higher diversity and aboveground biomass production in the herbaceous layer community for sustainable ecosystem management.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of plant research
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A plant species of the genus SOLANUM, family SOLANACEAE that causes CALCINOSIS in grazing livestock due to high levels of 1a,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3 (CALCITRIOL).
A plant genus of the family SOLANACEAE. Members contain steroidal saponins and cause CALCINOSIS in grazing livestock due to high levels of 1 ALPHA,25-DIHYDROXYVITAMIN D3.
A plant genus in the family FABACEAE, subfamily Papilionaceae, order Fabales, subclass Rosidae. Many of the species are associated with poisoning of grazing animals. Some of the species are used medicinally.
Adjustment and manipulation of the vertebral column.
Domesticated farm animals raised for home use or profit but excluding POULTRY. Typically livestock includes CATTLE; SHEEP; HORSES; SWINE; GOATS; and others.