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Why do cervids feed on aquatic vegetation?

AutorCeacero, Francisco ; Landete-Castillejos, Tomás ; Miranda, María ; García, Andrés J. ; Gallego, Laureano
Palabras claveAquatic vegetation
Diet seasonality
Minerals
Protein
Red deer
Sodium
Fecha de publicación2014
EditorElsevier
CitaciónBehavioural Processes 103: 28-34 (2014)
ResumenConsumption of aquatic plants is rare among cervids, despite the common occurrence of this form of vegetation. However, the paucity of literature reporting on this feeding behaviour suggests that Na (but also other minerals), protein, and the ubiquitous availability of aquatic vegetation may play a role in its consumption. We present results quantifying those factors that regulate the consumption of aquatic plants in the Iberian red deer. We focussed our study primarily on two questions: (i) what nutritional values are red deer seeking in the aquatic plants?; and (ii) why do red deer primarily use aquatic plants during the summer? A comparison of the seasonal variations in Na content between terrestrial vs. aquatic vegetation did not fully support the hypothesis that aquatic plants are being consumed more in summer because of any seasonal variation in Na availability. The Na content in the aquatic vegetation was adequate all the year-round; whereas, the Na content in the terrestrial vegetation was consistently deficient. However, a greater summer content of essential minerals and protein in the aquatic vegetation may be the cause for their consumption exclusively during the summer. We suggest that seasonal variations in the consumption of aquatic vegetation by cervids is primarily driven by temporal variations in the nutrient content, combined with seasonal variations in the physiological demands for these nutrients.
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/142598
DOI10.1016/j.beproc.2013.10.008
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2013.10.008
issn: 0376-6357
e-issn: 1872-8308
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