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Methane output of tortoises: Its contribution to energy loss related to herbivore body mass


Franz, R; Soliva, C R; Kreuzer, M; Hatt, Jean-Michel; Furrer, S; Hummel, J; Clauss, Marcus (2011). Methane output of tortoises: Its contribution to energy loss related to herbivore body mass. PLoS ONE, 6(3):e17628.

Abstract

An increase in body mass (M) is traditionally considered advantageous for herbivores in terms of digestive efficiency. However, recently increasing methane losses with increasing M were described in mammals. To test this pattern in nonmammal herbivores, we conducted feeding trails with 24 tortoises of various species (M range 0.52–180 kg) fed a diet of grass hay ad libitum and salad. Mean daily dry matter and gross energy intake measured over 30 consecutive days scaled to M0.75 (95%CI 0.64–0.87) and M0.77 (95%CI 0.66–0.88), respectively. Methane production was measured over two consecutive days in respiration chambers and scaled to M1.03 (95%CI 0.84–1.22). When expressed as energy loss per gross energy intake, methane losses scaled to 0.70 (95%CI 0.47–1.05) M0.29 (95%CI 0.14–0.45). This scaling overlaps in its confidence intervals to that calculated for nonruminant mammals 0.79 (95%CI 0.63–0.99) M0.15 (95%CI 0.09–0.20), but is lower than that for ruminants. The similarity between nonruminant mammals and tortoises suggest a common evolution of the gut fauna in ectotherms and endotherms, and that the increase in energetic losses due to methane production with increasing body mass is a general allometric principle in herbivores. These findings add evidence to the view that large body size itself does not necessarily convey a digestive advantage.

Abstract

An increase in body mass (M) is traditionally considered advantageous for herbivores in terms of digestive efficiency. However, recently increasing methane losses with increasing M were described in mammals. To test this pattern in nonmammal herbivores, we conducted feeding trails with 24 tortoises of various species (M range 0.52–180 kg) fed a diet of grass hay ad libitum and salad. Mean daily dry matter and gross energy intake measured over 30 consecutive days scaled to M0.75 (95%CI 0.64–0.87) and M0.77 (95%CI 0.66–0.88), respectively. Methane production was measured over two consecutive days in respiration chambers and scaled to M1.03 (95%CI 0.84–1.22). When expressed as energy loss per gross energy intake, methane losses scaled to 0.70 (95%CI 0.47–1.05) M0.29 (95%CI 0.14–0.45). This scaling overlaps in its confidence intervals to that calculated for nonruminant mammals 0.79 (95%CI 0.63–0.99) M0.15 (95%CI 0.09–0.20), but is lower than that for ruminants. The similarity between nonruminant mammals and tortoises suggest a common evolution of the gut fauna in ectotherms and endotherms, and that the increase in energetic losses due to methane production with increasing body mass is a general allometric principle in herbivores. These findings add evidence to the view that large body size itself does not necessarily convey a digestive advantage.

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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:2011
Deposited On:10 Mar 2011 14:42
Last Modified:17 Feb 2018 13:18
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017628
PubMed ID:21408074

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