Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 87, Issue 6, pp 1421–1437 | Cite as

Assessing foraging strategies of herbivores in Mediterranean oak woodlands: a review of key issues and selected methodologies

  • Maria Isabel Ferraz de OliveiraEmail author
  • Elsa Lamy
  • Miguel N. Bugalho
  • Margarida Vaz
  • Cristina Pinheiro
  • Manuel Cancela d’Abreu
  • Fernando Capela e Silva
  • Elvira Sales-Baptista


Montados are agro-silvo-pastoral ecosystems, typical of the Southwest Iberian Peninsula, of high socio-economic and conservation importance, where grazing is a dominant activity. Montados are characterized by an open tree canopy of Quercus sp. and a diverse undercover of shrubs and grasslands that constitute the plant food resources for grazing animals. Plant food resources of Montados are highly variable, both spatially and seasonally, in quantity and quality. Reliable and easy to use methods to monitor grazing are necessary to allow proper understanding of foraging strategies of grazing animals and to set sustainable grazing management. We describe the main characteristics of the plant food resources available for grazing animals, striking its variability, and revise the potential of using N-alkanes and saliva proteome methods to assess foraging strategies in Montados. In a scenario of dynamic multiple choices, we discuss the use of n-alkane methodology for the simultaneous estimation of diet composition and voluntary intake and saliva proteome as a mean of increasing the knowledge on diet adjustments.


Montado/Dehesa Agro-silvo-pastoral systems Grazing ecology Foraging behavior N-alkanes Salivary proteins 



We thank two anonymous referees for their comments that greatly improved a previous version of the manuscript. This work was funded by FEDER Funds through the Operational Programme for Competitiveness Factors—COMPETE and National Funds through FCT—Foundation for Science and Technology under the Strategic Projects PEst-C/AGR/UI0115/2011 and PEst-C/QUI/UI0062/2011. We acknowledge also the financial support from the Portuguese Science Foundation (FCT) in the forms of “Ciência 2008” research contracts of MI Ferraz de Oliveira and MN Bugalho, Post-Doctoral grants (SFRH/BPD/63240/2009 and SFRH/BPD/90668/2012) of E Lamy and MN Bugalho and Post-Doctoral grant within the research project ALENT-07-0224-FEDER-001744 of MI Ferraz de Oliveira. The funding sources played no role in the development of the present work or upon its submission for publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Isabel Ferraz de Oliveira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elsa Lamy
    • 2
  • Miguel N. Bugalho
    • 3
  • Margarida Vaz
    • 4
  • Cristina Pinheiro
    • 5
  • Manuel Cancela d’Abreu
    • 5
  • Fernando Capela e Silva
    • 4
  • Elvira Sales-Baptista
    • 5
  1. 1.Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas (ICAAM)Universidade de ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal
  2. 2.ICAAM and Química Orgânica, Produtos Naturais e Agro-Alimentares (QOPNA)Universidade de AveiroAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.Centro de Ecologia Aplicada Prof. Baeta NevesInstituto Superior AgronomiaLisbonPortugal
  4. 4.ICAAM and Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade de ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal
  5. 5.ICAAM and Departamento de ZootecniaUniversidade de ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal

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