The University of Arizona

Comparative rumen and fecal diet microhistological determinations of European mouflon.

J.L. Chapuis, P. Bousses, B. Pisanu, D. Reale


The population of European mouflon (Ovis musimon Pallas) established on an island of the sub-Antarctic Kerguelen archipelago is characterized by a demographic cycle. Every 2-5 years, there is a massive winter mortality due to food shortage. A good knowledge of food resources utilization appeared essential to understand the population growth dynamics. We investigated the validity of the microhistological analysis of feces by a comparative analysis of 30 paired rumen and fecal samples collected in winter. Sixteen and 17 food items were identified respectively in rumen and fecal samples. Most fragments could be accurately determined because plant diversity was low. Both methods gave similar results Though quantitative differences appeared between methods for some items, the same 4 major food constituents were identified in relatively close proportions in both rumen and fecal samples. There is a risk of slight overestimation of annual meadow-grass (Poa annua L.) and mosses in feces, and of Azorella selago Hook. f. in the rumen.



histology;population dynamics;rumen contents;populations;identification;temporal variation;plants;mouflon;demography;validity;Kerguelen Archipelago;composition;winter kill;estimation;mortality;feces;diet;botanical composition;feeding preferences

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