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Title: The foraging behaviour of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in a Mediterranean environment
Author: Bugalho, Miguel Nuno do S. M.
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1999
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The feeding ecology of red deer (Cervus elaphus) living in a Mediterranean environment was investigated. Composition of the diet was determined from the n-alkane content of samples of faeces. Principal Component Analysis and Canonical Variate Analysis were conducted on n-alkane concentrations of samples of vegetation. These multivariate statistical techniques demonstrated that n-alkanes could be used as markers to distinguish browse from herbage and individual browse species from each other, in such a way that n-alkane content of the faeces could be used to determine the composition of the diet of red deer. Red deer included grasses and forbs in their diets throughout the period of study, but the proportion of these groups of plants was lower in autumn when their availability was low. During autumn red deer included a high proportion of acorns in their diets. Browse was included in the diet mainly in summer, although a proportion of browse was found in the diet during other periods of the year. Females had a significant higher proportion of grasses and forbs in their diets during summer than males. OM digestibility of the diet was higher in spring and early summer but low in late summer and autumn. It is likely that the low total biomass of grasses and forbs constrained the opportunities for diet selection in late summer and autumn, whilst low availability of live plant material constrained the opportunities for diet selection in mid summer. In a Mediterranean environment red deer has to face relatively quick changes in the quality and quantity of food. In these environments red deer is probably subjected to different seasonal constraints on food availability compared to red deer at more northern latitudes. This could possible affect their reproductive cycle and ultimately population dynamics differently.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available