Assessing diet in savanna herbivores using stable carbon isotope ratios of faeces Journal Article uri icon

Overview

abstract

  • In African savannas, browse-based resources (@3 plants) are isotopically distinct from grasses (@4 plants). The carbon isotopic composition of the basic plant diet is recorded in animal tissues. Mammal faeces are a readily accessible, non-invasive, sample material for temporally resolved dietary reconstructions. Faeces, however, include both undigested plant matter and waste, hence accuracy of dietary calculations could potentially be compromised by shifts in plant isotopic values related to seasonal or spatial differences, or by variability in the isotopic differences between faeces and diet. A controlled feeding study of four ungulate species showed a small, consistent difference between diet and faeces of-0.9 o, irrespective of whether the diet was @3 or C4-based. Results from faeces oftaxa known to be pure grazers, pure browsers, and mixed-feeders from the Kruger National Park were entirely consistent with their diets, but the accuracy of dietary reconstructions is enhanced with data from local plant communities.

publication date

  • June 30, 2005

Full Author List

  • Codron D; Codron J; Sponheimer M; Lee-Thorp JA; Robinson T; Grant CC; De Ruiter D

Other Profiles

Additional Document Info

volume

  • 48

issue

  • 1