About a thousand years ago, large, wild herbivores started to disappear from Europe. Hunting, poaching and loss of biotope led to their decline. And with the vanishing of those large animals, their behaviour and its influence on the environment stopped too. Not only their grazing behaviour and its effect on vegetation but also the wallowing, rooting and digging. As for the last one, wild bulls used to dig pits in the rutting season to impress the opponents and the cows. As it appears now, these pits were hotspots for pioneer plants and insects.
iDiv-based PhD student Julia Rouet-Leduc has just completed a review of the benefits of different types of grazing. As part of the ongoing GrazeLIFE project, her work will inform the discussion about how to create a more supportive policy environment for these various grazing systems in Europe. In this blog, she walks us through some of the findings from her literature review.
Remarkable observations on reintroduced herbivores in the Rhodope Mountains give an insight into how different species make use of a shared defence strategy against predators. A promising indicator of their adaptive capacity to living in the wild and a prelude to the reintroduction of complex grazing systems in rural Europe.
Beetles in newspaper headlines. Wild bees in the evening news. Entomologists on prime time talk shows. The latest research results on the state of insect populations in Germany and the Netherlands hit the Dutch media like a bomb in 2019.
Restoring natural areas to their healthy and varied state lead to benefits that are not to be underestimated. Other than holding more water, preventing soil erosion, and creating a habitat for wildlife, wild and varied grasslands has a natural way of storing and sequestering CO2 (carbon dioxide). What if curbing our emissions would not only mean to give up and hand in, but actually lead to the highly visual and experiential restoration and protection of European wilderness?
Imagine a magnificent wild stallion crossing a shallow, braided river, using natural gravel beds as stepping stones – it’s hard to think of a more spectacular Dutch wildlife experience. Today this phenomenon can be witnessed regularly when hiking the restored floodplains of the River Meuse on the Belgian-Dutch border.
One of the main topics of the GRAZELIFE-project is prevention of wildfire damage by large herbivores. While we are examining this issue in the European context, we can already take advantage of experiences in other parts of the world. Below the case of wild horses as a natural fire brigade in the US.