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Oecologia

, Volume 102, Issue 4, pp 404–412 | Cite as

Environmental constraints on the foraging behaviour of a dwarf antelope (Madoqua kirkii)

  • Martha Bertha Manser
  • Peter Nicolas Meade Brotherton
Original Paper

Abstract

Dik-diks (Madoqua sp.) inhabit semi-arid regions and experience very different conditions of food availability and quality between wet and dry seasons. By comparing the behaviour of dik-diks between these two seasons, we identified environmental constraints affecting their feeding strategies. In both seasons foraging time was limited by high mid day temperatures. In the wet season a high intake rate compensates for the loss in foraging time, but in the dry season water and protein become limiting. To meet minimum daily water requirements in the dry season dik-diks fed on plant species that they avoided during the wet season. Analysis at the plant species level showed higher species selectivity in the wet season than in the dry season. In a multiple regression analysis food species preferences were best explained by relative abundance and water content in the dry season, and by dry matter content in the wet season. In the wet season the daily dry-matter intake of dik-diks in the field was only about 10% higher than the theoretically predicted minimum for a ruminant of this body weight, while protein and water intake were about 3 times as high. This suggests that the most limiting dietary component in the wet season is energy. In the dry season the daily intake of all dietary components is lower than the theoretical minimum required, and also lower than the values suggested by laboratory studies of dik-diks. This dry season deficit is presumably met from body reserves. Dry season water intake was approximately 30% of the intake observed in laboratory studies indicating that dikdiks are even better adapted to arid conditions than suggested by physiological experiments.

Key words

Environmental constraints Foraging behaviour Herbivore Browser Madoqua kirkii 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martha Bertha Manser
    • 1
  • Peter Nicolas Meade Brotherton
    • 2
  1. 1.Zoologisches Institut der UniversitätBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Large Animal Research Group, Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeEngland

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