The functional significance of the browser-grazer dichotomy in African ruminants

Gordon, Iain J., and Illius, Andrew W. (1994) The functional significance of the browser-grazer dichotomy in African ruminants. Oecologia, 98 (2). pp. 167-175.

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Abstract

The allometric relationships for the fermentation rate of dry matter, the total energy concentration of volatile fatty acids (VFAs), the energy supplied from VFA production and the mass of the digesta contents within the rumen or caecum and proximal colon (hindgut) were used to test whether the digestive strategies of grazing and browsing African ruminants differ. The wet and dry mass of the contents of the rumen and hindgut were allometrically related to body mass (BM). These relationships did not differ between browsing and grazing ruminants. The fermentation rates in the rumen were strongly allometric and the intercepts of the relationships did not differ between browsers and grazers. The fermentation rates in the hindgut were not allometrically related to BM and did not differ between ruminants with different feeding habits. Likewise, the total energy concentration of the VFAs in the rumen and hindgut showed no allometric scaling and did not differ between browsing and grazing ruminants. The energy supplied by VFA production in both the rumen and hindgut of African ruminants scaled at around 0.8 with BM. Only in the case of the energy supplied by VFAs in the rumen were there significantly different intercepts for browsing and grazing ruminants. The energy supplied by VFA production in the rumen was inadequate to meet the energy requirements for maintenance of browsers and small grazers. The retention time of digesta in the alimentary tract was positively related to BM although there was no difference in the allometric relationships for grazers and browsers. The results of these analyses suggest that, after controlling for the effects of body mass, there is little difference in digestive strategy between African ruminants with different morphological adaptations of the gut.

Item ID: 42636
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: feeding habits, rumen, digestive strategy, allometry, retention time
Funders: Scottish Office of the Agriculture and Fisheries Department (SOAFD)
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2016 07:43
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060806 Animal Physiological Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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