Activity and short-term impacts of dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius) foraging on perennial coastal sand dune vegetation Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Previous studies have demonstrated the camels’ (1) dietary preference for perennial plants, (2) low selectivity among perennial species, and (3) ability to remove large amounts of perennial biomass, thus causing irreversible damage on the landscape. We studied the activity and feeding behaviour of camels on coastal sand dunes dominated by the dwarf shrub Artemisia monosperma, as well as the short-term impacts of camel foraging on perennial vegetation. The herd foraged on four semi-stabilised dunes during summer, when the available biomass was composed almost entirely of perennials. We recorded the activity and feeding selectivity of the camels, as well as the consumption and recovery of the common perennial plant species. The camels were selective foragers and spent relatively little time feeding when the more palatable perennial species became scarcer. Most of the more palatable (herbaceous) species were consumed, and these plant species recovered faster and more abundantly than the less palatable (both woody and herbaceous) species, which were hardly consumed. A. monosperma was practically avoided despite its dominance, even when more palatable species were nearly absent. In conclusion, results suggest that camels are selective feeders, and will not cause irreversible damage to the local vegetation.

publication date

  • October 1, 2016