Burned and Devoured-Introduced Herbivores, Fire, and the Endemic Flora of the High-Elevation Ecosystem on La Palma, Canary Islands
Published on Nov 1, 2014in Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research1.71
· DOI :10.1657/1938-4246-46.4.859
Abstract Novel disturbance regimes (e.g., introduced herbivores and fire) are among the major drivers of degradation in island ecosystems. High-elevation ecosystems (HEEs) on islands might be especially vulnerable to these disturbances due to high endemism. Here, data from an 11-year exclosure experiment in the HEE of La Palma (Canary Islands) are presented where mammalian herbivores have been introduced. We investigate the combined effect of herbivory and fire on total species richness, seedling richness, and seedling establishment on the whole system and a subset of highly endangered species (target species). Total species richness, seedling species richness, and seedling establishment decreased with herbivory. Five out of eight target species were exclusively found inside the exclosures indicating the negative impact of introduced herbivores on endemic high elevation flora. Target species were generally affected more negatively by introduced herbivores and were subject to significantly higher browsing ...