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Ecological Research

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 775–782 | Cite as

Food habits of sambar Cervus unicolor at the Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka

  • U.K.G.K. Padmalal
  • Seiki Takatsuki
  • Palitha Jayasekara
Original Articles

The sambar Cervus unicolor has a large population in southern Asia. In Sri Lanka, its habitat use is most common among the four cervid species. We carried out an analysis of the food habits of sambar in the Horton Plains National Park from January to November 1991 by using the quantitative fecal analysis method. Analyses of sambar feces collected at the three habitats (two grassland communities and a forest) in the Horton Plains National Park found that the sambar diet largely consisted of graminoid leaves; 45–78% in grasslands and 43–60% in the forest. The analyses also found that the proportion of graminoid leaves in early summer (52–78%) was greater than it was in winter (43–49%). In spring and summer, different varieties of graminoids were consumed by sambar, whereas dicotyledonous plants were consumed in winter. The fecal nitrogen level did not fall below the critical level of their nutrition (1.1%), indicating that sambar food quality in the Horton Plains was sufficient. A large proportion of Pennisetum spp., exotic grasses (10–39%) were found in the fecal compositions collected in the Pennisetum community. This could be because of the high biomass and high nitrogen concentration (approximately 2.4%) of Pennisetum and its low-growing nature. From the present study, we found that in order for sambar, a native ungulate, not to increase in number, the growth of exotic plants such as Pennisetum needs to be controlled.

Key words

exotic grass fecal nitrogen food habits grazer Hortons Plains National Park sambar Cervus unicolor 

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Copyright information

© Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • U.K.G.K. Padmalal
    • 1
  • Seiki Takatsuki
    • 2
  • Palitha Jayasekara
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Faculty of Natural SciencesOpen University of Sri LankaNawalaSri Lanka
  2. 2.The University MuseumThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Institute of Basin Ecosystems, Faculty of AgricultureGifu UniversityGifuJapan

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