Time budgets of grassland herbivores: body size similarities
- Cite this article as:
- Belovsky, G.E. & Slade, J.B. Oecologia (1986) 70: 53. doi:10.1007/BF00377110
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The summer (May–September) time budgets of 14 generalist herbivore species living in the same grassland environment are presented in terms of various component activities (e.g., walking, feeding, resting, etc.). All the species exhibit a decrease in activity as average daily air temperature increases. Greater body size and variety of habitats used by a species lead to increased time spent active. Use of a greater variety of habitats may increase activity time because different habitats provide suitable thermal conditions for activity at different times of the day. Body size affects sn herbivore's thermal balance through metabolism, body surface area and thermal inertia. The time spent feeding, exclusive of time spent searching for foods, is less for large than small herbivores. This may arise because large species must spend more time walking in the search for food to satisfy their energy requirements. The observed feeding time differences for species composing a common trophic level in a single environment may help to explain their diet choice because feeding time constrains the variety of foods an herbivore can select. Diet differences, in turn, can explain the potential competition for food if food is in short supply.