Summer diet of horses (Equus ferus caballus Linn.), Guanacos (Lama guanicoe Müller), and European Brown hares (Lepus europaeus Pallas) in the high Andean Range of the Coquimbo Region, Chile
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For an adequate management of natural grasslands, the knowledge and understanding of the dietary habits of herbivores and their trophic interactions are fundamental. During two summer seasons, in a mountain range of a sector of the Coquimbo Region, Chile, the botanical composition, diversity, and similarity of the diets of horses, European brown hares, and guanacos were studied, as was the selectivity of the main grassland plant species, using feces microhistology. The contribution of hydromorphic grasses was similar in the diets of guanacos (35.90 7.27%) and horses (32.25 4.50%), differing from that found in hares (16.32 5.32%). Dryland grassland grasses contributed similarly to the diets of horses (13.21 3.22%), guanacos (22.53 5.21%) and hares (18.35 3.81%), as well as graminoids, which averaged 47.79 6.66%, 35.63 10.76% and 38.94 7.88%, in diets of horses, guanacos, and hares, respectively, without significant differences. The contribution of herbaceous dicotyledons was only important in hares (23.76 3.76%), while that of shrubs was low (<3%) and similar among the three herbivores. Dietary diversity was similar among the three herbivore species (73–79%), with a higher degree of dietary overlap between horses and guanacos (55.7%), which was higher than that obtained between hares and guanacos (50%) and between horses and hares (48%), for which there would be a potential trophic competition between them. The most abundant species of dryland and wet grasslands generally fulfill a functional role of subsistence and a nutritional role of maintenance; however, for the three herbivores studied, a different selective behavior was evidenced, according to their physiological differences, with the selection process little affected by the relative abundance of these species in the grasslands. Due to the above, herbivores resort to the selection of certain species that, despite being not very abundant in grasslands, play an important nutritional and functional role, improving the quality of their diets.
Project "MLP-CEA-Characterization Study of the Wetlands of the South Cordillera of Cuncumen". Antofagasta Minerals Los Pelambres-CEA S.A. CS-1650
Artículo de publícación WoS
Quote ItemAnimals 2021, 11, 1313
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