Food choice in fallow deer – experimental studies of selectivity
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
In this thesis, I experimentally investigate feeding selectivity in fallow deer (Dama dama), with respect to plant secondary compounds, especially tannins, which can decrease the quality of foods. I found that fallow deer avoided foods with higher amounts of tannic acid and Quebracho tannin, even though the deer ate some high-tannin food. The food choice was strongly dependent on the context in which the food was presented, so that the food choice in relation to tannin content was relative rather than absolute. When high-tannin food occurred at low frequency, the deer ate proportionally less from this type of food, at least when the difference in tannin content between the two foods was large. A basic implication is that an unpalatable plant type could benefit from its unpalatability, especially when occurring at low frequency. In experiments with two patches, the finding of a stronger within- than between-patch selectivity was mirrored in associational effects. First, low-tannin, palatable food was more eaten when occurring in a high-tannin patch, which corresponds to neighbour contrast susceptibility. Second, high-tannin, unpalatable food in a less defended patch was less eaten, which corresponds to neighbour contrast defence. A proximate cause of the associational effects can be the presence of a simultaneous negative contrast, which was experimentally demonstrated in an additional study. Individual differences in selectivity were present early in life and were consistent over five years, and selectivity was correlated with foraging exploratory behaviour. The results from this thesis suggest that fallow deer are selective in their food choice with respect to tannins from the beginning, and that the frequency of occurrence of different foods, but also the distance between foods and the complexity of presentation, influence the food choice. It is also suggested that a foraging behavioural syndrome is present in mammalian herbivores.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Zoologiska institutionen , 2007. , 114 p.
behavioural syndrome, neighbour contrast defence, neighbour contrast susceptibility, simultaneous negative contrast, plant secondary compounds, tannins
Research subject Ethology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6789ISBN: 91-7155-408-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-6789DiVA: diva2:197053
2007-05-25, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 C, Stockholm, 10:00
Provenza, Frederick D., Professor
Leimar, Olof, Professor
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