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Faecal particle size: Digestive physiology meets herbivore diversity


Clauss, Marcus; Steuer, Patrick; Erlinghagen-Lückerath, Kerstin; Kaandorp, Jacques; Fritz, Julia; Südekum, Karl-Heinz; Hummel, Jürgen (2015). Faecal particle size: Digestive physiology meets herbivore diversity. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A, Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 179:182-191.

Abstract

In herbivore ecophysiology, comparative chewing efficiency has only recently received increased attention. This measure is best assessed on un-processed forage-only diets; corresponding comparative datasets are missing. We measured faecal mean particle size (MPS [mm]) in 14 large herbivore species (body mass (M) range 60-4000 kg; 8 ruminant and 6 hindgut fermenters) fed a consistent grass hay diet, in which intake, digesta mean retention times (MRT [h]) and digestive efficiency (as digestibility of faecal fibre measured by 96 h cumulative in vitro gas production GP96h [ml per 200 mg faecal fibre], and metabolic faecal nitrogen MFN [% organic faecal matter]) had been quantified simultaneously. MPS was generally lower in ruminants than in hindgut fermenters and increased with M in the total dataset, but was nearly constant among closely related taxa (e.g. within ruminants, within equids) irrespective of M. MPS (but not MRT) was significantly correlated to GP96h, whereas MRT (but not MPS) was significantly correlated to MFN, suggesting different effects of these factors on different aspects of digestibility. Combinations of measures including MPS mostly explained digestibility better than other combinations. The phylogenetic signal λ, which was mostly 1 when linking any single measure to digestibility, was estimated 0 in models that linked digestive efficiency to combinations of measures. These results support the intuitive concept that species diversification in large herbivores is tightly related to digestive physiology, and that chewing efficiency as measured by faecal particle size is an integral aspect of this scenario.

Abstract

In herbivore ecophysiology, comparative chewing efficiency has only recently received increased attention. This measure is best assessed on un-processed forage-only diets; corresponding comparative datasets are missing. We measured faecal mean particle size (MPS [mm]) in 14 large herbivore species (body mass (M) range 60-4000 kg; 8 ruminant and 6 hindgut fermenters) fed a consistent grass hay diet, in which intake, digesta mean retention times (MRT [h]) and digestive efficiency (as digestibility of faecal fibre measured by 96 h cumulative in vitro gas production GP96h [ml per 200 mg faecal fibre], and metabolic faecal nitrogen MFN [% organic faecal matter]) had been quantified simultaneously. MPS was generally lower in ruminants than in hindgut fermenters and increased with M in the total dataset, but was nearly constant among closely related taxa (e.g. within ruminants, within equids) irrespective of M. MPS (but not MRT) was significantly correlated to GP96h, whereas MRT (but not MPS) was significantly correlated to MFN, suggesting different effects of these factors on different aspects of digestibility. Combinations of measures including MPS mostly explained digestibility better than other combinations. The phylogenetic signal λ, which was mostly 1 when linking any single measure to digestibility, was estimated 0 in models that linked digestive efficiency to combinations of measures. These results support the intuitive concept that species diversification in large herbivores is tightly related to digestive physiology, and that chewing efficiency as measured by faecal particle size is an integral aspect of this scenario.

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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:2015
Deposited On:11 Nov 2014 14:48
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 08:02
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1095-6433
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2014.10.006

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