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Gross intestinal morphometry and allometry in ruminants


McGrosky, Amanda; Codron, Daryl; Müller, Dennis W H; Navarrete, Ana; Isler, Karin; Hofmann, Reinhold R; Clauss, Marcus (2019). Gross intestinal morphometry and allometry in ruminants. Journal of Morphology, 280(9):1254-1266.

Abstract

While some descriptions of ruminants' dietary adaptations suggest that the length of the intestinal tract reflects the proportion of grass or browse in the diet, this assumption has been questioned. We collated data on body mass (BM), as well as small intestine, caecum, colon/rectum, large and total intestine length in 68 ruminant species, and, while accounting for the phylogenetic structure of the dataset, evaluated both allometric scaling and the potential influence of diet, digestive physiology or climate proxies on measures of intestine length. Intestinal length generally scaled to BM at an exponent higher than the 0.33 expected due to geometry. Diet or digestive physiology proxies did not have an influence on any intestinal length measures, though some proxies indicating more arid natural habitats were positively correlated with measures of the large intestine. The relative size of a forestomach compartment, the omasum, was negatively correlated with intestine length. The results indicate that intestine length measures provide little indication of feeding type or digestive physiology, but rather indicate adaptations to aridity. Higher-than-geometry scaling of intestinal length may be related to the necessity of maintaining geometric (or metabolic) scaling of intestinal surface area while keeping gut diameter, and hence the diffusion distances, small. The way in which space trade-offs determine the macroanatomy of different organs in the abdominal cavity, such as the omasum and the intestine, deserves further investigation.

Abstract

While some descriptions of ruminants' dietary adaptations suggest that the length of the intestinal tract reflects the proportion of grass or browse in the diet, this assumption has been questioned. We collated data on body mass (BM), as well as small intestine, caecum, colon/rectum, large and total intestine length in 68 ruminant species, and, while accounting for the phylogenetic structure of the dataset, evaluated both allometric scaling and the potential influence of diet, digestive physiology or climate proxies on measures of intestine length. Intestinal length generally scaled to BM at an exponent higher than the 0.33 expected due to geometry. Diet or digestive physiology proxies did not have an influence on any intestinal length measures, though some proxies indicating more arid natural habitats were positively correlated with measures of the large intestine. The relative size of a forestomach compartment, the omasum, was negatively correlated with intestine length. The results indicate that intestine length measures provide little indication of feeding type or digestive physiology, but rather indicate adaptations to aridity. Higher-than-geometry scaling of intestinal length may be related to the necessity of maintaining geometric (or metabolic) scaling of intestinal surface area while keeping gut diameter, and hence the diffusion distances, small. The way in which space trade-offs determine the macroanatomy of different organs in the abdominal cavity, such as the omasum and the intestine, deserves further investigation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
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, digestion; feeding type; fluid throughput; omasum; ruminant
Language:English
Date:1 September 2019
Deposited On:26 Aug 2019 16:23
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:41
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0022-2887
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/jmor.21028
PubMed ID:31241799
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID3100A0‐117789
  • : Project Title
  • : FunderSYNTHESYS
  • : Grant IDHU‐TAF‐4916
  • : Project Title

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