Effect of animal husbandry on herbivore-carrying capacity at a regional scale

M. Oesterheld, Osvaldo Sala, S. J. McNaughton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

138 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

ALL significant properties of the herbivore trophic level, including biomass, consumption and productivity, are significantly correlated with primary productivity across a broad range of terrestrial ecosystems1,2. Here we show that livestock biomass in South American agricultural ecosystems across a 25-fold gradient of primary productivity exhibited a relationship with a slope essentially identical to unmanaged ecosystems, but with a substantially greater y-intercept. Therefore the biomass of herbivores supported per unit of primary productivity is about an order of magnitude greater in agricultural than in natural ecosystems, for a given level of primary production. We also present evidence of an increase in livestock body size with primary productivity, a pattern previously characterized in natural ecosystems3. To our knowledge this is the first quantitative documentation at a regional scale of the impact of animal husbandry practices, such as herding, stock selection and veterinary care, on the biomass and size-structure of livestock herds compared with native herbivores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-236
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume356
Issue number6366
StatePublished - Mar 19 1992
Externally publishedYes

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Animal Husbandry
Herbivory
Conservation of Natural Resources
Biomass
Livestock
Ecosystem
Body Size
Documentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Oesterheld, M., Sala, O., & McNaughton, S. J. (1992). Effect of animal husbandry on herbivore-carrying capacity at a regional scale. Nature, 356(6366), 234-236.

Effect of animal husbandry on herbivore-carrying capacity at a regional scale. / Oesterheld, M.; Sala, Osvaldo; McNaughton, S. J.

In: Nature, Vol. 356, No. 6366, 19.03.1992, p. 234-236.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Oesterheld, M, Sala, O & McNaughton, SJ 1992, 'Effect of animal husbandry on herbivore-carrying capacity at a regional scale', Nature, vol. 356, no. 6366, pp. 234-236.
Oesterheld M, Sala O, McNaughton SJ. Effect of animal husbandry on herbivore-carrying capacity at a regional scale. Nature. 1992 Mar 19;356(6366):234-236.
Oesterheld, M. ; Sala, Osvaldo ; McNaughton, S. J. / Effect of animal husbandry on herbivore-carrying capacity at a regional scale. In: Nature. 1992 ; Vol. 356, No. 6366. pp. 234-236.
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