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Methane emission by adult ostriches (Struthio camelus)


Frei, Samuel; Dittmann, Marie T; Reutlinger, Christoph; Ortmann, Sylvia; Hatt, J M; Kreuzer, Michael; Clauss, Marcus (2015). Methane emission by adult ostriches (Struthio camelus). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A, Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 180:1-5.

Abstract

Ostriches (Struthio camelus) are herbivorous birds with a digestive physiology that shares several similarities with that of herbivorous mammals. Previous reports, however, claimed a very low methane emission from ostriches,whichwould be clearly different from mammals. If this could be confirmed, ostrich meatwould represent a very attractive alternative to ruminant—and generally mammalian—meat by representing a particularly low-emission agricultural form of production. We individually measured, by chamber respirometry, the amount of oxygen consumed aswell as carbon dioxide and methane emitted fromsix adult ostriches (body mass 108.3± 8.3 kg) during a 24-hour periodwhen fed a pelleted lucerne diet.While oxygen consumptionwas in the range of values previously reported for ostriches, supporting the validity of our experimental setup, methane production was, at 17.5±3.2 L d−1,much higher than previously reported for this species, and was of themagnitude expected for similar-sized, nonruminant mammalian herbivores. These results suggest that methane emission is similar between ostriches and nonruminant mammalian herbivores and that the environmental burden of these animals is comparable. The findings furthermore indicate that it appears justified to use currently available scaling equations for methane production of nonruminant mammals in paleo-reconstructions of methane production of herbivorous dinosaurs.

Abstract

Ostriches (Struthio camelus) are herbivorous birds with a digestive physiology that shares several similarities with that of herbivorous mammals. Previous reports, however, claimed a very low methane emission from ostriches,whichwould be clearly different from mammals. If this could be confirmed, ostrich meatwould represent a very attractive alternative to ruminant—and generally mammalian—meat by representing a particularly low-emission agricultural form of production. We individually measured, by chamber respirometry, the amount of oxygen consumed aswell as carbon dioxide and methane emitted fromsix adult ostriches (body mass 108.3± 8.3 kg) during a 24-hour periodwhen fed a pelleted lucerne diet.While oxygen consumptionwas in the range of values previously reported for ostriches, supporting the validity of our experimental setup, methane production was, at 17.5±3.2 L d−1,much higher than previously reported for this species, and was of themagnitude expected for similar-sized, nonruminant mammalian herbivores. These results suggest that methane emission is similar between ostriches and nonruminant mammalian herbivores and that the environmental burden of these animals is comparable. The findings furthermore indicate that it appears justified to use currently available scaling equations for methane production of nonruminant mammals in paleo-reconstructions of methane production of herbivorous dinosaurs.

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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:20 Nov 2014 13:19
Last Modified:25 Oct 2016 07:08
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1095-6433
Funders:SNF, Basle Foundation of Zoological Research
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2014.10.019

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