We review the interactions between foraging animals and the spatial distribution of ecosystem properties, such as productivity and nutrient cycling rates, across the landscape. Such interactions are non-linear, and require re-examination of the uncritical application of the concept of carrying capacity. Spatial heterogeneity of the animal-landscape system has three major components: heterogeneity of resource distributions in the physical environment, heterogeneity of plant tissue chemistry, such as concentrations of secondary compounds or nutrients and associated plant growth traits such as evergreeness, heterogeneity of movement modes by the animal. Furthermore, all three types of heterogeneity interact and can either reinforce or offset one another, thereby affecting system stability and dynamics. We conclude by discussing the applications of these concepts to management objectives.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Nature and Landscape Conservation