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Browse species trends in sarcocaulescent shrublands used by creole goats and other domestic herbivores
Journal of Arid Environments  (IF2.211),  Pub Date : 2021-07-15, DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2021.104592
Juan J. Montes-Sánchez, Andrés Orduño-Cruz, Rigoberto López-Amador

To estimate the effect of browsing on the mountain range of the Sierra de San Francisco, Mexico, we assessed browse species richness and canopy cover and the relative abundance of goats (large flocks), cattle, sheep, and equids (small herds) across 2700 m from pens used to milk goats in 1 lowland and 2 upland mesas, which differ in the sarcocaulescent shrublands that inhabit there. Also, we evaluated the relation between browse species preference by domestic herbivores and their canopy cover. Small ruminants (mainly goats), not cattle and equids, had a greater relative abundance near milking pens and, even more, far from them, which was observed as a ditch-shaped pattern across the distance. Goats did not affect browse species richness across the distance, but they affected the total canopy cover; sites with greater goat relative abundance had less total canopy cover, which was observed as a hump-shaped pattern. Preferred and non-preferred browse species by goats showed increasing and hump pattern across distance. Non-preferred species also showed decreasing and U-shaped patterns. Thus, goats have created trends in browse species canopy cover, stressing the hump pattern in the total canopy cover in lowland and upland sarcocaulescent shrublands.