Oecologia

, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 617–624 | Cite as

How does pattern of feeding and rate of nutrient delivery influence conditioned food preferences?

  • A. J. Duncan
  • C. Elwert
  • J. J. Villalba
  • J. Yearsley
  • I. Pouloupoulou
  • I. J. Gordon
Plant Animal Interactions

Abstract

Ruminant herbivores have been shown to learn about food properties by associating food flavours with the food’s post-ingestive consequences. Previous experimentation supporting the conditioned food aversion/preference hypothesis has generally employed very simple diet learning tasks which do not effectively represent the wide range of foods selected within single bouts typical of wild, free-ranging ruminant herbivores. We tested the ability of a ruminant herbivore to associate a food with artificially administered nutrient rewards in a designed experiment where we altered the temporal pattern of encounter with the food as well as the nature (fast or slow reward) of the post-ingestive outcome. Twenty-four goats were offered branches of Sitka spruce (SS) and Norway spruce (NS) for 4 h per day on two days per week for five weeks. The pattern of feeding varied with treatment such that the species on offer changed every hour (short) or every 2 h (long). The energy treatment altered the reward delivered during Sitka consumption so that animals were dosed either with predominantly sugar (rapidly fermented), predominantly starch (slower fermentation rate), or with water (placebo). Preference was measured on the day following each learning day. We expected that goats would find it easier to associate SS with post-ingestive rewards when the duration of encounter was longest, and that associations would be stronger with the most rapidly digested post-ingestive reward. In the event, goats did not alter their consumption of SS in response to the treatments. Our results suggest that at the scale of temporal resolution of encounters with different plant species (1–2 h), and at the different rates of experiencing post-ingestive consequences tested in this experiment, ruminants do not appear to discriminate the nutritive properties of foods predominantly through a post-ingestive feedback mechanism. They must, instead, use a range of cues—including post-ingestive consequences—to assess food properties.

Keywords

Post-ingestive effects Diet choice Feeding pattern Ruminant herbivore 

References

  1. Agreil C, Meuret M (2004) An improved method for quantifying intake rate and ingestive behaviour of ruminants in diverse and variable habitats using direct observation. Small Rumin Res 54:99–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agricultural Research Council (1980) The nutrient requirements of ruminant livestock. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux, Farnham Royal, Slough, UKGoogle Scholar
  3. Arnold GW (1981) Grazing behaviour. In: Morley FW (ed) Grazing animals. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 79–104Google Scholar
  4. Arsenos G, Kyriazakis I (1999) The continuum between preferences and aversions for flavoured foods in sheep conditioned by administration of casein doses. Anim Sci 68:605–616Google Scholar
  5. Bazely DR (1990) Rules and cues used by sheep foraging in monocultures. In: Hughes RN (ed) Behavioural mechanisms of food selection. Springer, Berlin, pp 343–367Google Scholar
  6. Chase LE, Wangsness PJ, Kavanaugh JF, Griel LC, Gahagan JH (1977) Changes in portal blood metabolites and insulin with feeding steers twice daily. J Dairy Sci 60:403–409PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. de Jong A (1981) Short- and long-term effects of eating on blood composition in free-feeding goats. J Agric Sci 96:659–668Google Scholar
  8. Duncan AJ, Young SA (2002) Can goats learn about foods through conditioned food aversions and preferences when multiple food options are simultaneously available? J Anim Sci 80:2091–2098PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Duncan AJ, Hartley SE, Iason GR (1994) The effect of monoterpene concentrations in Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) on the browsing behaviour of red deer (Cervus elaphus). Can J Zool 72:1715–1720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duncan AJ, Ginane C, Gordon IJ, Orskov ER (2003) Why do browsing herbivores select mixed diets? In: ’t Mannetje L, Ramirez-Aviles L, Sandoval Castro CA, Ku Vera JC (eds) Matching herbivore nutrition to ecosystems biodiversity (Proc VI Int Symp on the Nutrition of Herbivores, Merida, Mexico, 19–24 Oct 2003). Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan, MeridaGoogle Scholar
  11. Duncan AJ, Young SA, Thoss V, Elston DA (2005) Browse selection in response to simulated seasonal change in diet quality through post-ingestive effects. J Chem Ecol 31:729–744PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Duncan AJ, Ginane C, Elston DA, Kunaver A, Gordon IJ (2006) How do herbivores trade-off the positive and negative consequences of diet selection decisions? Anim Behav 71:93–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ginane C, Duncan AJ, Young SA, Elston DA, Gordon IJ (2005) Herbivore diet selectivity in response to simulated variation in nutrient rewards and plant secondary metabolite concentrations of food plants. Anim Behav 69:541–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Illius AW, Gordon IJ (1992) Diet selection in mammalian herbivores-constraints and tactics. In: Hughes RN (ed) Diet selection. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 157–181Google Scholar
  15. Lucas PW, Turner IM, Dominy NJ, Yamashita N (2000) Mechanical defences to herbivory. Ann Bot 86:913–920CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. MAFF (1975) Energy allowances and feeding systems for ruminants (Technical Bulletin 33). HMSO, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Mazur JE (1994) Learning and behavior. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  18. Menke KH, Raab L, Salewski A, Steingass H, Fritz D, Schneider W (1979) Estimation of the digestibility and metabolizable energy content of ruminant feedingstuffs from the gas-production when they are incubated with rumen liquor in vitro. J Agric Sci 93:217–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Meuret M, Bruchou C (1994) Modélisation de l’ingestion selon la diversité des choix alimentaires réalisés par la chèvre au pâturage sur parcours (Modelling voluntary intake related to dietary choices diversity in goat grazing on rangeland). Rencontres Rech Rumin 1:225–228Google Scholar
  20. Provenza FD (1995) Postingestive feedback as an elementary determinant of food preference and intake in ruminants. J Range Manage 48:2–17Google Scholar
  21. Ramirez RG, Quintanilla JB, Aranda J (1997) White-tailed deer food habits in northeastern Mexico. Small Rumin Res 25:141–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Senft RL, Coughenour MB, Bailey DW, Rittenhouse LR, Sala OE, Swift DM (1987) Large herbivore foraging and ecological hierarchies. Bioscience 37:789–799CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Stephens DW, Krebs JR (1986) Foraging theory. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  24. Van Wieren SE (1996) Do large herbivores select a diet that maximizes short-term energy intake rate? For Ecol Manage 88:149–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Villalba JJ, Provenza FD (1996) Preference for flavored wheat-straw by lambs conditioned with intraruminal administrations of sodium propionate. J Anim Sci 74:2362–2368PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Villalba JJ, Provenza FD (1997) Preference for wheat straw by lambs conditioned with intraruminal infusions of starch. Br J Nutr 77:287–297PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Villalba JJ, Provenza FD (2000) Discriminating among novel foods: effects of energy provision on preferences of lambs for poor-quality foods. Appl Anim Behav Sci 66:87–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Yearsley J, Villalba JJ, Gordon IJ, Kyriazakis I, Speakman JR, Tolkamp BJ, Illius AW, Duncan AJ (2006) A theory of associating food types with their post-ingestive effects. Am Nat 167:705–716PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Duncan
    • 1
  • C. Elwert
    • 1
  • J. J. Villalba
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Yearsley
    • 1
  • I. Pouloupoulou
    • 1
  • I. J. Gordon
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.The Macaulay InstituteAberdeenUK
  2. 2.Department of Forest, Range, and Wildlife SciencesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  3. 3.Davies LaboratoryCSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems ProgrammeAitkenvaleAustralia

Personalised recommendations