Botanical Composition and Diet Quality of the Vicuñas (Vicugna vicugna Mol.) in Highland Range of Parinacota, Chile release_d5mioccxmnhwlgdp6zyc27oidm

by Giorgio Castellaro, Carla Orellana, Juan Escanilla, Camilo Bastías, Patrich Cerpa, Luis Raggi

Published in Animals by MDPI AG.

2020   Volume 10, Issue 7, p1205


Understanding the botanical composition of herbivores' diets and their nutritional quality is an important question in the development of sustainable strategies for the management of natural resources. In Chilean highland vicuña-grazed grasslands, there is little information in this regard and, therefore, this study aimed to determine the year-round profile of the diet's botanical composition and quality. In highland grasslands, on an area of 21.9 ha, continuously grazed for 3.06 VU/ha/year (18°03′ S, 69°13′ W; 4425 m.o.s.l), twelve feces piles were sampled monthly and were analyzed through microhistology, and the nitrogen concentration [NF, OM basis] was determined. The botanical composition, diversity (J) and selectivity index (Ei) of the main species were estimated. Diets were composed of dry–grassland grasses (37.7%), wet–grassland grasses (36.6%), graminoids (14.3%) and forbs (10.2%). The diet diversity ranged from 0.79 (dry–winter) to 0.87 (wet–summer). The main dominant grassland species obtained negative Ei values. The annual mean value of [NF] was estimated as 1.82%, with a higher value in summer months (2.21%), which coincides with the physiological states of higher nutritional demand. The vicuñas behave like generalist ungulates, having a high degree of selectivity towards grass species, which mostly fulfill a nutritional role in subsistence and a functional role in survival, applying foraging strategies that allow them to obtain a better quality diet during the season of greatest nutritional demand.
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Type  article-journal
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Date   2020-07-16
Language   en ?
DOI  10.3390/ani10071205
PubMed  32708523
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ISSN-L:  2076-2615
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