Effects of large herbivores on wood pasture dynamics in a European wetland system

P. Cornelissen, J. Bokdam, K.V. Sykora, F. Berendse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Whether self-regulating large herbivores play a key role in the development of wood-pasture landscapes remains a crucial unanswered question for both ecological theory and nature conservation. We describe and analyse how a ‘partly self-regulating’ population of cattle, horses and red deer affected the development of the woody vegetation in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve (Netherlands). Using aerial photographs from 1980 to 2011, we analysed the development of shrubs and trees. Before the large herbivores were introduced in the Oostvaardersplassen in 1983, the woody vegetation increased and vegetation type significantly affected the number of establishments. Cover of woody species increased further from 1983 to 1996, not only by canopy expansion but also by new establishments. After 1996, cover of the woody vegetation decreased from 30% to
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-406
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • sambucus-nigra l
  • associational susceptibility
  • red deer
  • vegetation
  • facilitation
  • mosaics
  • grassland
  • neighbors
  • patterns
  • litter

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