, Volume 104, Issue 3, pp 297-300

Patch selection by red deer in relation to energy and protein intake: a re-evaluation of Langvatn and Hanley's (1993) results

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Abstract

Langvatn and Hanley (1993) recently reported that patch use by red deer (Cervus elaphus) was more strongly correlated with short term rates of intake of digestible protein than dry matter. Such short term measures overlook effects of gut filling, which may constrain intake by ruminants over longer time scales (i.e., daily rates of gain). We reanalyzed Langvatn and Hanley's data using an energy intake model incorporating such a processing constraint, to determine whether their conclusions are robust. We found that the use of patches by red deer was just as strongly correlated with an estimate of the daily rate of intake of digestible energy as one of digestible protein during four out of seven trials, but slightly lower in three out of seven trials. In all cases, daily intake of digestible energy was a much better predictor of patch preference by red deer than was the intake of dry matter. Our reanalysis suggests that the daily intake of energy was highly correlated with that of protein in these trials, as may often be the case for herbivores feeding on graminoids. Hence the observed pattern of patch use by red deer could simultaneously enhance rates of both protein and energy intake.