Retzer, V: Forage competition between livestock and Mongolian Pika (Ochotona pallasi) in southern Mongolian mountain steppes, Basic and Applied Ecology, 8(2), 147-157 (2007)
Nomadic pastoralism is the most suitable form of land use in the semi-arid grasslands of the world and from a pastoralist point of view wild herbivores are considered forage competitors to livestock. Although small mammals are abundant in steppe ecosystems forage competition between small mammals and livestock has rarely been quantified. This study presents the results of an enclosure experiment investigating the forage competition of the Mongolian pika (Ochotona pallasi) and livestock in the Stipa-Allium-steppes of the Gobi Gurvan Saykhan, southern Mongolia. Available forage in the area consists primarily of Stipa krylovii, Agropyron cristatum, and Allium polyrrhizum (representing 80 % of available phytomass), all of which are regarded as desirable forage plants. In the drought year of 2001 however, species heights indicated that Allium is avoided by pika and livestock alike while Stipa and Agropyron are intensely browsed. Pika and livestock populate the same habitat and browse the same limited forage species, leading to the conclusion that both herbivore groups compete for forage. Due to their smaller body size, pika are able to consume the vegetation to a lower level and thereby consume more of the available forage, giving them a competitive advantage over the livestock.

last modified 2009-05-11