Community Dynamics of Browsing and Grazing Ungulates

Charudutt Mishra, Munib Khanyari, Herbert H.T. Prins, Kulbhushansingh R. Suryawanshi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The world’s 240 ungulate species belong largely to the same guild, feeding on terrestrial plants, and yet, ungulates typically occur in multi-species assemblages. What allows multiple ungulate species dependent on similar resources to coexist? We focus on the role of variation in ungulate body masses and their feeding adaptations in facilitating coexistence at multiple scales. Our analyses of a global dataset of extant ungulates (incl. proboscideans) show that grazing species tend to have significantly larger body masses, browsers significantly smaller, and mixed feeders tend to have body masses similar to the global median of all species. We report evidence for body mass structuring in grazer and browser assemblages at the biome scale, presumably brought about by the interplay of competitive and facilitative interactions. Our analyses of the Pleistocene species assemblage indicate biased extinction of species across body mass extremes, and point to the role of Pleistocene extinctions in determining the continental ungulate assemblages of today. Our findings also indicate the possibility of mass extinctions not just of larger bodied species but of smaller bodied ungulates as well; this may have gone undetected so far, or is most likely, poorly represented in the fossil record.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Ecology of Browsing and Grazing II
EditorsI.J. Gordon, H.H.T. Prins
ISBN (Electronic)9783030258658
ISBN (Print)9783030258672, 9783030258641
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2019

Publication series

NameThe Ecology of Browsing and Grazing II
ISSN (Print)0070-8356
ISSN (Electronic)2196-971X


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