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Ecology of two sympatric cervids from Spain: confronting data from stomach contents and dental microwear texture

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5th International Conference on Surface Metrology
4th – 7th April 2016, Poznan University of Technology, Poland
Ecology of two sympatric cervids from Spain: confronting
data from stomach contents and dental microwear
texture
BERLIOZ Emilie1, AZORIT Concepción2, BLONDEL Cécile1,
MERCERON Gildas1 (1)
1iPHEP – UMR 7262, 6, rue Brunet – Bât. B35 – TSA 51106 – 86073 Poitiers Cedex
9, France
2 Área de Zoología, Campus Las Lagunillas, Edificio Ciencias Experimentales y de la
Salud (B3), Dependencia:B3-148
emilie.berlioz@univ-poitiers.fr
Keywords: Dental Microwear Texture Analysis (DMTA), Cervids, Diet, Stomach
Content
Abstract:
The red deer, Cervus elaphus is characterized by a plastic diet that varies
depending on resource availability in its habitat (Gebert and Verheyden-Tixier,
2001). On the other hand, the fallow deer Dama dama is reported to
predominantly eat grass – and acorns whenever available whether in cold and
humid or warm and dry habitats (Jackson, 1977, Azorit et al., 2012). The Spanish
locality Luegar Nuevo (Fig.1) is characterized by a dry summer which constitutes a
constraint season for the two sympatric cervid populations (Azorit et al., 2012). In
this study, we focus on diet to explore the ecological relationships between the two
populations under these extreme conditions.
Dental microwear texture analysis (Scott et al., 2006), the study of the
microscopic wear caused by food during mastication, has proven to be very
efficient in deciphering both inter- and intra-specific variations in diet (Merceron
et al., 2010). Efforts are focused on the shearing facet of the lower second molars
(Fig.1). The results are compared with the rumen content analysis based on the
very same specimens (Azorit et al., 2012).
We show that the red deer are highly grazer (high anisotropy, low
complexity), while the fallow deer combine intermediate complexity and lower
anisotropy suggesting a more browsing diet (Fig.1). Notably, at the peak of the
grass consumption for the two species (from May to August, before the occurrence
of fruit in their diet), we highlight significant differences in the dental microwear
signal. These results lead to the conclusion that conversely to the rumen contents,
DMTA supports a more abrasive and tough alimentation (possibly herbaceous
5th International Conference on Surface Metrology
April 4–7, 2016 • Poznan University of Technology, Poland
38
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5th International Conference on Surface Metrology
4th – 7th April 2016, Poznan University of Technology, Poland
monocots) for the red deer compared with the fallow deer. In summary, the two
species seem to occupy different micro-habitats with Dama in places where
grasses are less abrasive and less tough than the place where Cervus grazes.
Bibliography:
[1] Azorit C, Tellado S, Oya A et al. (2012) Anim. Prod. Sci. 52: 720–727.
[2] Calandra I, Merceron G (2016) Mammal Rev. in press.
[3] Gebert C, Verheyden-Tixier H (2001) Mammal Rev. 31: 189–201.
[4] Jackson J (1977) J. Zool. 181: 465–473.
[5] Merceron G, Escarguel G, Angibault J-M et al. (2010). PLoS ONE 5: e9542.
[6] Scott RS, Ungar P, Bergstrom TS et al. (2006) J. Hum. Evol. 51: 339–349.
Fig. 1. Differences of dental microwear results between Red and Fallow deer from Jaen. a:
Location of Luegar Nuevo in south of Spain; b: dental facet of interest on lower m2; c: The mean and
standard error of mean for anisotropy and complexity are illustrated for both taxa on a year basis.
Results for males and females of both taxa are illustrated for the constraint season (May to August)
5th International Conference on Surface Metrology
April 4–7, 2016 • Poznan University of Technology, Poland
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Article
Full-text available
We studied the diet composition and diet overlap in sympatric red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) and fallow deer (Dama dama) throughout a whole year in order to determine variation due to season, species, sex and age class by analysing rumen contents samples of 81 red and 69 fallow deer shot monthly during 2008-09 in Sierra de And jar Natural Park, southern Spain. We assessed diet similarity and possible inter-and intra-specific foraging competition. We found different foraging strategies for both species and sexes during constraint periods, and several theoretical considerations of specific interactions and behaviour are discussed with respect to the Mediterranean environment. In both species an annual diet dominated by grasses was recorded, peaking in spring. Browses were an important food resource at the end of winter and at the end of summer, and fruit more in autumn and winter. Red deer ingested a higher proportion of browse than fallow deer, which consumed more acorns and for a longer time showed a better ability to compensate for nutritional constraint periods. An overall decline in diet similarity in summer and at the end of winter led us to assume that exploitative competition between red and fallow deer and even between sexes was probable. Red deer females showed low diet similarity to other deer, while there was a great diet overlap between red deer males and fallow deer females at the end of summer. Differences detected between both two species and sexes do not always support predictions deriving from specific body size and morphophysiological characteristics, but can probably be explained as a consequence of different metabolic demands. The relationship between plant nutritional attributes and food selection according to reproductive or physiological status and seasonal demands for both sexes and species should be researched in order to perform a better assessment of deer feeding behaviour.
  • C Gebert
  • H Verheyden-Tixier
Gebert C, Verheyden-Tixier H (2001) Mammal Rev. 31: 189-201.
  • J Jackson
Jackson J (1977) J. Zool. 181: 465-473.
  • G Merceron
  • G Escarguel
  • J-M Angibault
Merceron G, Escarguel G, Angibault J-M et al. (2010). PLoS ONE 5: e9542.
  • R S Scott
  • P Ungar
  • T S Bergstrom
Scott RS, Ungar P, Bergstrom TS et al. (2006) J. Hum. Evol. 51: 339-349.