1. Ecology
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Linking spatial patterns of terrestrial herbivore community structure to trophic interactions

  1. Jakub Witold Bubnicki  Is a corresponding author
  2. Marcin Churski
  3. Krzysztof Schmidt
  4. Tom A Diserens
  5. Dries PJ Kuijper
  1. Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e44937 doi: 10.7554/eLife.44937

Abstract

Large herbivores influence ecosystem functioning via their effects on vegetation at different spatial scales. It is often overlooked that the spatial distribution of large herbivores result from their responses to interacting top-down and bottom-up ecological gradients that create landscape-scale variation in the structure of the entire community. We studied the complexity of these cascading interactions using high-resolution camera trapping and remote sensing data in the best-preserved European lowland forest, Białowieża Forest, Poland. We showed that the variation in spatial distribution of an entire community of large herbivores is explained by species-specific responses to both environmental bottom-up and biotic top-down factors in combination with human-induced (cascading) effects. We decomposed the spatial variation in herbivore community structure and identified functionally distinct landscape-scale herbivory regimes ('herbiscapes') which are predicted to occur in a variety of ecosystems and could be an important mechanism creating spatial variation in herbivory maintaining vegetation heterogeneity.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Jakub Witold Bubnicki

    Population Ecology, Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland
    For correspondence
    kbubnicki@ibs.bialowieza.pl
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2064-3113
  2. Marcin Churski

    Population Ecology, Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Krzysztof Schmidt

    Population Ecology, Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9043-291X
  4. Tom A Diserens

    Population Ecology, Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Dries PJ Kuijper

    Population Ecology, Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

National Science Center, Poland (2012/07/N/NZ8/02651)

  • Jakub Witold Bubnicki

National Science Center, Poland (2015/17/B/NZ8/02403)

  • Dries PJ Kuijper

EURONATUR (PL-15-500-28)

  • Krzysztof Schmidt

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Christian Rutz, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: January 7, 2019
  2. Accepted: September 13, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: October 2, 2019 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2019, Bubnicki et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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