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Macronutrient balancing in free-ranging populations of moose

Felton, Annika and Wam, Hilde K. and Felton, Adam and Simpson, Stephen J. and Stolter, Caroline and Hedwall, Per-Ola and Malmsten, Jonas and Eriksson, Torsten and Tigabu, Mulualem and Raubenheimer, David (2021). Macronutrient balancing in free-ranging populations of moose. Ecology and Evolution. 11 , 11223-11240
[Research article]

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Abstract

At northern latitudes, large spatial and temporal variation in the nutritional composition of available foods poses challenges to wild herbivores trying to satisfy their nutrient requirements. Studies conducted in mostly captive settings have shown that animals from a variety of taxonomic groups deal with this challenge by adjusting the amounts and proportions of available food combinations to achieve a target nutrient balance. In this study, we used proportions-based nutritional geometry to analyze the nutritional composition of rumen samples collected in winter from 481 moose (Alces alces) in southern Sweden and examine whether free-ranging moose show comparable patterns of nutrient balancing. Our main hypothesis was that wild moose actively regulate their rumen nutrient composition to offset ecologically imposed variation in the nutritional composition of available foods. To test this, we assessed the macronutritional composition (protein, carbohydrates, and lipids) of rumen contents and commonly eaten foods, including supplementary feed, across populations with contrasting winter diets, spanning an area of approximately 10,000 km(2). Our results suggest that moose balanced the macronutrient composition of their rumen, with the rumen contents having consistently similar proportional relationship between protein and nonstructural carbohydrates, despite differences in available (and eaten) foods. Furthermore, we found that rumen macronutrient balance was tightly related to ingested levels of dietary fiber (cellulose and hemicellulose), such that the greater the fiber content, the less protein was present in the rumen compared with nonstructural carbohydrates. Our results also suggest that moose benefit from access to a greater variety of trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses, which provides them with a larger nutritional space to maneuver within. Our findings provide novel theoretical insights into a model species for ungulate nutritional ecology, while also generating data of direct relevance to wildlife and forest management, such as silvicultural or supplementary feeding practices.

Authors/Creators:Felton, Annika and Wam, Hilde K. and Felton, Adam and Simpson, Stephen J. and Stolter, Caroline and Hedwall, Per-Ola and Malmsten, Jonas and Eriksson, Torsten and Tigabu, Mulualem and Raubenheimer, David
Title:Macronutrient balancing in free-ranging populations of moose
Series Name/Journal:Ecology and Evolution
Year of publishing :2021
Volume:11
Page range:11223-11240
Number of Pages:18
Publisher:WILEY
ISSN:2045-7758
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:Alces alces, deer, herbivory, nutritional ecology, primate, ungulate
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-112981
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-112981
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1002/ece3.7909
Web of Science (WoS)000673585100001
ID Code:24917
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
VH - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
Department:(S) > Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
(S) > Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
(VH) > Dept. of Animal Nutrition and Management
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:18 Aug 2021 10:25
Metadata Last Modified:18 Aug 2021 10:31

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