Vegetation community selection by ungulates on the Isle of Rhum. III. Determinants of vegetation community selection

Gordon, I.J. (1989) Vegetation community selection by ungulates on the Isle of Rhum. III. Determinants of vegetation community selection. Journal of Applied Ecology, 26 (1). pp. 65-79.

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Abstract

(1) This paper describes and discusses possible determinants of seasonal vegetation community selection of cattle, red deer, goats and ponies on the Isle of Rhum in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland.

(2) The feeding strategies of each species are discussed with respect to a theoretical framework of constraints on diet selection in ungulates based on mouth size, body size and the digestive system within species of ruminant, their rumen morphology and digestive function.

(3) Throughout the year the goats fed on vegetation communities containing high biomasses of live dwarf shrubs and forbs. The other species all fed predominantly on the grassland communities.

(4) Cattle, having a large body size and rumen, a long passage rate of food material through their digestive tract and small incisor breadth: metabolic requirements ratios, fed on communities containing the highly digestible live mesotrophic graminoids and forbs when these were abundant and on communities containing live oligotrophic graminoids when the former declined in abundance.

(5) Red deer stags and hinds, which are smaller and have larger incisor breadth: meta-bolic requirements ratios than cattle, selected vegetation communities containing live mesotrophic graminoids and forbs throughout the year.

(6) Goats, having digestive systems adapted for fast passage rates, fed predominantly on communities containing live dwarf shrubs and forbs. Because of their high cell content concentration, this type of plant material will release most nutrients in the shortest time.

(7) Ponies, being hindgut digesters, have relatively low digestive abilities and, as a result, high intake requirements. Consequently, they fed on communities with high biomasses of live mesotrophic graminoids and forbs when these were abundant and on communities with high biomasses of both live and dead mesotrophic graminoids and forbs when the biomass of the live component declined

Item ID: 42649
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2664
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (UK) (NERC)
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2016 07:43
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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