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Assessing diet in savanna herbivores using stable carbon isotope ratios of faeces


Codron, D; Codron, J; Sponheimer, M; Lee-Thorp, J A; Robinson, T; Grant, C C; de Ruiter, D J (2005). Assessing diet in savanna herbivores using stable carbon isotope ratios of faeces. Koedoe, 48(1):115-124.

Abstract

In African savannas, browse-based resources (C3 plants) are isotopically distinct from grasses (C4 plants). The carbon isotopic composition of the basic plant diet is recorded in animal tissues. Mammal faeces are a readily accessible, non-invasive, sample material for temporally resolved dietary reconstructions. Faeces, however, include both undigested plant matter and waste, hence accuracy of dietary calculations could potentially be compromised by shifts in plant isotopic values related to seasonal or spatial differences, or by variability in the isotopic differences between faeces and diet. A controlled feeding study of four ungulate species showed a small, consistent difference between diet and faeces of -0.9 ‰, irrespective of whether the diet was C3 or C4-based. Results from faeces of taxa known to be pure grazers, pure browsers, and mixed-feeders from the Kruger National Park were entirely consistent with their diets, but the accuracy of dietary reconstructions is enhanced with data from local plant communities.

In African savannas, browse-based resources (C3 plants) are isotopically distinct from grasses (C4 plants). The carbon isotopic composition of the basic plant diet is recorded in animal tissues. Mammal faeces are a readily accessible, non-invasive, sample material for temporally resolved dietary reconstructions. Faeces, however, include both undigested plant matter and waste, hence accuracy of dietary calculations could potentially be compromised by shifts in plant isotopic values related to seasonal or spatial differences, or by variability in the isotopic differences between faeces and diet. A controlled feeding study of four ungulate species showed a small, consistent difference between diet and faeces of -0.9 ‰, irrespective of whether the diet was C3 or C4-based. Results from faeces of taxa known to be pure grazers, pure browsers, and mixed-feeders from the Kruger National Park were entirely consistent with their diets, but the accuracy of dietary reconstructions is enhanced with data from local plant communities.

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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:2005
Deposited On:15 Feb 2010 16:05
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:37
Publisher:AOSIS
ISSN:0075-6458
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://www.koedoe.co.za/index.php/koedoe/article/view/170/1009
Related URLs:http://www.koedoe.co.za/index.php/koedoe
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-25363

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