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Digestive plasticity as a response to woodland fragmentation in roe deer


Serrano Ferron, E; Verheyden, H; Hummel, J; Cargnelutti, B; Lourtet, B; Merlet, J; González-Candela, M; Angibault, J M; Hewison, A J M; Clauss, Marcus (2012). Digestive plasticity as a response to woodland fragmentation in roe deer. Ecological Research, 27(1):77-82.

Abstract

Digestive plasticity, which refers to changes in digestive features due to changes in both internal and external environmental conditions, is a crucial factor for understanding the ability of species to cope with environmental changes. In Europe, agricultural intensification and the loss of forests have been major challenges for original forest dwellers, however some species, such as the European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), have been able to successfully colonize these new habitats. In this work, we investigated the adaptation of some digestive features of roe deer to the agricultural landscapes. We assessed whether changes in local landscape structure influenced the mass of both reticulorumen (RR) and distal fermentation chamber (DFC) of 47 juvenile and adult roe deer inhabiting an agro-ecosystem in southwest France. Woodland cover had a clear effect on diet quality (estimated by the rate of gas production of digestive contents) and DFC weight of animals. In fact, deer from the most forested landscapes showed heavier DFCs and fed on poorer quality diet (lower gas production) than their counterparts from the most open landscapes. RR mass was less influenced by the landscape openness, being the age of animals the main factor for understanding the variations of this digestive feature in our study area. We can conclude that colonizing agricultural landscapes increases the access to highly energetic and digestive resources.

Abstract

Digestive plasticity, which refers to changes in digestive features due to changes in both internal and external environmental conditions, is a crucial factor for understanding the ability of species to cope with environmental changes. In Europe, agricultural intensification and the loss of forests have been major challenges for original forest dwellers, however some species, such as the European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), have been able to successfully colonize these new habitats. In this work, we investigated the adaptation of some digestive features of roe deer to the agricultural landscapes. We assessed whether changes in local landscape structure influenced the mass of both reticulorumen (RR) and distal fermentation chamber (DFC) of 47 juvenile and adult roe deer inhabiting an agro-ecosystem in southwest France. Woodland cover had a clear effect on diet quality (estimated by the rate of gas production of digestive contents) and DFC weight of animals. In fact, deer from the most forested landscapes showed heavier DFCs and fed on poorer quality diet (lower gas production) than their counterparts from the most open landscapes. RR mass was less influenced by the landscape openness, being the age of animals the main factor for understanding the variations of this digestive feature in our study area. We can conclude that colonizing agricultural landscapes increases the access to highly energetic and digestive resources.

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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
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:02 Apr 2012 08:35
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 12:04
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0912-3814
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11284-011-0872-x

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