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Feeding strategy of wild herbivores in habitats of limited food resources

Author(s): Jiří Kamler

Journal: Wildlife Biology in Practice
ISSN 1646-1509

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 46;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Red deer | Chamois | Diet | Diet quality

In mountain environment of the Jeseníky Mts., we studied the botanical composition and quality of diets of red deer, roe deer and chamois as well as utilization of their food supply. The data were collected from two localities of different altitudes and food supply. The locality on summits was covered mostly with grasses in herb layer and inhabited by chamois and red deer, while in the lower locations raspberry, forbs and broadleaved tree was abundant and red and roe deer were presented. The aim of the study was to analyze a feeding strategy of three ungulate species in mountain habitats with limited food supply and to deduce implications to management of their populations. (1) Botanic composition of the ungulate food was influenced not only by their foraging specialisation but also food supply was very important. Red deer consumed grasses (more than 90 percent of volume) on the summit in growing season while forbs and browse were presented in substantial amount in its diet in lower altitudes. (2) The food quality based on nitrogen content was higher in general in roe deer than in the others ungulates but during late winter the roe deer consumed the diet based on spruce needles of very low quality. The quality of red deer diet was lower in the summit area (grassy habitats) than at foot hills where the food supply was more various. (3) The roe deer distribution can be restricted by absence of high quality food resources in ground vegetation while red deer and chamois can use food of lower quality (grasses). (5) Winter is a critical period for all study species when the food supply is a worst quality and the ungulate diets were similar and the possibility of competition for limited resources increase.

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