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Demonstrating coprophagy with passage markers? The example of the plains viscacha (Lagostomus maximus)


Clauss, M; Besselmann, D; Schwarm, A; Ortmann, S; Hatt, J M (2007). Demonstrating coprophagy with passage markers? The example of the plains viscacha (Lagostomus maximus). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology, 147(2):453-9.

Abstract

Coprophagy, or the ingestion of a certain fraction of the faeces, is a well-known strategy of small herbivores. However, the question of whether a particular species actually uses this cryptic strategy or not is not easily answered experimentally. In this study we introduce the use of ingesta passage markers as a tool to verify coprophagy in species where individual observation might be difficult. In two captive adult plains viscachas (Lagostomus maximus), we demonstrate recurrent excretion peaks for both a fluid (cobald-EDTA) and a particle (chromium-mordanted fibre) marker, the most parsimonious explanation for which is faeces re-ingestion. In addition, a literature review of graphical presentations of passage marker excretion revealed such recurrent marker peaks in a large number of studies; however, these observations were rarely explicitly contributed to a coprophagic digestion strategy. The widespread use of semi-logarithmic plots or cumulative marker excretion curves in displaying passage studies makes recurrent marker excretion peaks less evident. We conclude that passage markers offer a comparatively easy way of assessing the incidence of coprophagy. Due to the reported absence of coprophagy in rabbits, a species well-known for using this strategy, on high-protein, low-fibre diets, it is recommended that investigations of the occurrence of coprophagy should be made with animals fed challenging, high-fibre diets.

Coprophagy, or the ingestion of a certain fraction of the faeces, is a well-known strategy of small herbivores. However, the question of whether a particular species actually uses this cryptic strategy or not is not easily answered experimentally. In this study we introduce the use of ingesta passage markers as a tool to verify coprophagy in species where individual observation might be difficult. In two captive adult plains viscachas (Lagostomus maximus), we demonstrate recurrent excretion peaks for both a fluid (cobald-EDTA) and a particle (chromium-mordanted fibre) marker, the most parsimonious explanation for which is faeces re-ingestion. In addition, a literature review of graphical presentations of passage marker excretion revealed such recurrent marker peaks in a large number of studies; however, these observations were rarely explicitly contributed to a coprophagic digestion strategy. The widespread use of semi-logarithmic plots or cumulative marker excretion curves in displaying passage studies makes recurrent marker excretion peaks less evident. We conclude that passage markers offer a comparatively easy way of assessing the incidence of coprophagy. Due to the reported absence of coprophagy in rabbits, a species well-known for using this strategy, on high-protein, low-fibre diets, it is recommended that investigations of the occurrence of coprophagy should be made with animals fed challenging, high-fibre diets.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Date:2007
Deposited On:11 Apr 2008 11:49
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:22
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1095-6433
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.cbpa.2007.01.013
PubMed ID:17331769
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-2334

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