There are over 30 species of herbivores that live in the African savanna. Historically, these animals were classified into broad categories, as either ‘grazers’ or ‘browsers.’ This classification could not explain why so many different grazers or browsers could co-exist in the same habitat without one species outcompeting all the others. A new method called metabarcoding uses plant DNA recovered from animal dung to identify exactly which plant species each animal eats. This new technique has led to the discovery that not all grazers or browsers eat the same foods and has allowed scientists to obtain a more accurate picture of how herbivores have partitioned ecological niches by diet.
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What controls the numbers and distributions of animals in their environment? How do animals interact with other species? How do natural patterns arise in nature? Find out in the 2015 Holiday Lectures on Science.
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