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Comparative omasum anatomy in ruminants: relationships with natural diet, digestive physiology, and general considerations on allometric investigations


Ehrlich, Christian; Codron, Daryl; Hofmann, Reinhold R; Hummel, Jürgen; Clauss, Marcus (2019). Comparative omasum anatomy in ruminants: relationships with natural diet, digestive physiology, and general considerations on allometric investigations. Journal of Morphology, 280(2):259-277.

Abstract

The omasum is the third forestomach compartment of pecoran ruminants. It is assumed that the re-absorption of fluid present in the forestomach digesta (that facilitates particle sorting, digestion, and harvest of microbes) is its main function, so that less diluted digesta is submitted to enzymatic digestion in the lower digestive tract. Here, we evaluate measures of omasum size (representing 84 ruminant species in the largest data set) against body mass and proxies of the natural diet (% grass) or forestomach physiology (fluid throughput), using phylogenetically controlled models. The origin of specimens (free-ranging or captive) did not have an effect in the data set. Models with the best support invariably either included %grass or a physiology proxy in addition to body mass. These effects were not necessarily additive (affecting the intercept of the allometric regression), but often indicated a change in the allometric body mass-exponent with diet or physiology. Only models that allowed an influence on the allometric exponent yielded basic exponents compatible with predictions derived from geometry. Species that include more grass in their natural diet, or that have a “cattle-type” physiology marked by a high forestomach fluid throughput, generally have larger omasa. However, the existence of outliers, as well as the overall data pattern, suggest that this is not an obligatory morphophysiological condition. Circumstantial evidence is presented leading to the hypothesis that the comparatively small and less complex omasa of “moose-type” species do not necessarily represent an “original” state, but may be derived from more complex states by ontogenetic reduction and fusion of omasal laminae.

Abstract

The omasum is the third forestomach compartment of pecoran ruminants. It is assumed that the re-absorption of fluid present in the forestomach digesta (that facilitates particle sorting, digestion, and harvest of microbes) is its main function, so that less diluted digesta is submitted to enzymatic digestion in the lower digestive tract. Here, we evaluate measures of omasum size (representing 84 ruminant species in the largest data set) against body mass and proxies of the natural diet (% grass) or forestomach physiology (fluid throughput), using phylogenetically controlled models. The origin of specimens (free-ranging or captive) did not have an effect in the data set. Models with the best support invariably either included %grass or a physiology proxy in addition to body mass. These effects were not necessarily additive (affecting the intercept of the allometric regression), but often indicated a change in the allometric body mass-exponent with diet or physiology. Only models that allowed an influence on the allometric exponent yielded basic exponents compatible with predictions derived from geometry. Species that include more grass in their natural diet, or that have a “cattle-type” physiology marked by a high forestomach fluid throughput, generally have larger omasa. However, the existence of outliers, as well as the overall data pattern, suggest that this is not an obligatory morphophysiological condition. Circumstantial evidence is presented leading to the hypothesis that the comparatively small and less complex omasa of “moose-type” species do not necessarily represent an “original” state, but may be derived from more complex states by ontogenetic reduction and fusion of omasal laminae.

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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
Uncontrolled Keywords:Developmental Biology, Animal Science and Zoology, Digesta washing; Ruminantia; convergence; feeding niche; rumination; “cattle-type”; “moose-type”
Language:English
Date:7 January 2019
Deposited On:21 Jan 2019 10:51
Last Modified:21 Jan 2019 10:52
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0022-2887
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/jmor.20942
PubMed ID:30615226

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