UZH-Logo

To chew or not to chew: fecal particle size in herbivorous reptiles and mammals


Fritz, J; Hummel, J; Kienzle, E; Streich, W J; Clauss, M (2010). To chew or not to chew: fecal particle size in herbivorous reptiles and mammals. Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, 313A(9):579-586.

Abstract

A major difference between reptile and mammalian herbivores is that the former do not masticate their food. Actually, food particle size reduction by chewing is usually considered one of the adaptations facilitating the higher metabolic rates of mammals. However, quantitative comparisons of ingesta particle size between the clades have, to our knowledge, not been performed so far. We measured mean fecal particle size (MPS) in 79 captive individuals of 14 reptile herbivore species (tortoises, lizards, and Corucia zebrata) by wet sieving and compared the results with a mammalian dataset. MPS increased with body mass in both clades, but at a significantly higher level in reptiles. Limited evidence in free-ranging and captive individuals of Testudo hermanni indicates that in reptiles, the ability to crop food and food particle size significantly influence fecal particle size. The opportunistic observation of a drastic particle size difference between stomach and intestinal contents corroborates findings that in reptiles, in contrast to terrestrial mammals, significant ingesta particle size reduction does occur in the gastrointestinal tract, most likely owing to microbial action during very long ingesta retention. Whether behavioral adaptations to controlling ingesta particle size, such as deliberate small bite sizes, are adaptive strategies in reptiles remains to be investigated.

A major difference between reptile and mammalian herbivores is that the former do not masticate their food. Actually, food particle size reduction by chewing is usually considered one of the adaptations facilitating the higher metabolic rates of mammals. However, quantitative comparisons of ingesta particle size between the clades have, to our knowledge, not been performed so far. We measured mean fecal particle size (MPS) in 79 captive individuals of 14 reptile herbivore species (tortoises, lizards, and Corucia zebrata) by wet sieving and compared the results with a mammalian dataset. MPS increased with body mass in both clades, but at a significantly higher level in reptiles. Limited evidence in free-ranging and captive individuals of Testudo hermanni indicates that in reptiles, the ability to crop food and food particle size significantly influence fecal particle size. The opportunistic observation of a drastic particle size difference between stomach and intestinal contents corroborates findings that in reptiles, in contrast to terrestrial mammals, significant ingesta particle size reduction does occur in the gastrointestinal tract, most likely owing to microbial action during very long ingesta retention. Whether behavioral adaptations to controlling ingesta particle size, such as deliberate small bite sizes, are adaptive strategies in reptiles remains to be investigated.

Citations

14 citations in Web of Science®
12 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

236 downloads since deposited on 03 Dec 2010
36 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

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
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:03 Dec 2010 13:05
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:16
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1932-5223
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com
Publisher DOI:10.1002/jez.629
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-36242

Download

[img]
Filetype: PDF - Registered users only
Size: 222kB
View at publisher
[img]
Preview
Content: Accepted Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 1MB

TrendTerms

TrendTerms displays relevant terms of the abstract of this publication and related documents on a map. The terms and their relations were extracted from ZORA using word statistics. Their timelines are taken from ZORA as well. The bubble size of a term is proportional to the number of documents where the term occurs. Red, orange, yellow and green colors are used for terms that occur in the current document; red indicates high interlinkedness of a term with other terms, orange, yellow and green decreasing interlinkedness. Blue is used for terms that have a relation with the terms in this document, but occur in other documents.
You can navigate and zoom the map. Mouse-hovering a term displays its timeline, clicking it yields the associated documents.

Author Collaborations