Herbivory is the consumption of plant tissue by animals. Plants, in general, are a low-quality food because they are low in nitrogen (needed by animals for protein) and high in complex carbohydrates, which are hard for most animals to digest. Herbivores preferentially consume roots, young leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds because these are higher in nutrients and more digestible. In terrestrial plant communities, about 20% of above-ground plant biomass is consumed by herbivores but this varies considerably with community type, and the number and type of herbivores present (Cyr and Pace, 1993).

nd Agricultural Systems 139

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