On the Fruit Consumption of Eurasian Badger (Meles meles) (Mammalia: Mustelidae) during the Autumn Season in Sredna Gora Mountains (Bulgaria)

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Abstract
This case study was carried out at one badgers family territory by asingle collection (11.11.2002, north of Stara Zagora City, near Tabashka River) of faeces from the animal latrine sites. Total of 1361 individual food items were identified in Eurasian badger (Meles meles) faeces from which the fruits of the Cornel-tree (Cornus mas) strongly dominated (n=1332, 96.5% from all items, 98.2% from all fruits).
© Ecologia Balkanica
http://eb.bio.uni-plovdiv.bg
Union of Scientists in Bulgaria – Plovdiv
University of Plovdiv Publishing House
ECOLOGIA BALKANICA
2009, Vol. 1
November 2009
pp. 99-101
On the fruit consumption of Eurasian Badger (Meles meles)
(Mammalia: Mustelidae) during the autumn season in
Sredna Gora Mountains (Bulgaria)
Dilian G. Georgiev
University of Plovdiv, Faculty of Biology, Department of Ecology and Environmental
Conservation, 24, Tzar Assen Str., 4000 Plovdiv, BULGARIA
E-mail: diliangeorgiev@abv.bg
Abstract. This case study was carried out at one badgers family territory by a
single collection (11.11.2002, north of Stara Zagora City, near Tabashka River) of
faeces from the animal latrine sites. Total of 1361 individual food items were
identified in Eurasian badger (Meles meles) faeces from which the fruits of the
Cornel-tree (Cornus mas) strongly dominated (n=1332, 96.5% from all items,
98.2% from all fruits).
Key words: badger, diet, fruit consumption.
Introduction
The Eurasian Badger (Meles meles L.) is
an omnivorous mustelid which food varies
from small invertebrate animals like
earthworms, snails, and insects, to
amphibians, mammals, and fruits
(M
ACDONALD
& B
ARRET
, 1993). His diet
consists of more vegetation matter (mainly
fruits) in southern areas of its distribution,
than in the north (S
IDOROVICH
, 1995).
Various plant species played significant
role in the food of badgers in different
areas and seasons. For example in South-
west Portugal its main food were olives,
pears and figs (R
OSALINO
et al., 2005), in
Switzerland cherries, plums and oats were
eaten seasonally and in large volumes
(R
OPER
& L
ÜPS
,
1995), and chestnuts were
significant in an area of the Italian Pre-Alps
(M
ARASSI
& B
IANCARDI
,
2002). Due to the
diversity of the major food items in the diet
and their wide geographical variation,
some authors have considered badger to be
a food generalist (R
OPER
& M
ICKEVICIUS
,
1995). In Bulgaria the food of the badger
was well studied and several diet
categories were considered to be important
to the species as fruits and invertebrates
(P
OPOV
& S
EDEFCHEV
, 2003). There were no
any studies on its trophic spectrum at
Sarnena Sredna Gora Mts.
100
The aim of the current study was to
provide some information on the badgers’
fruit consumption in this area.
Material and methods
This case study was carried out at one
badgers family territory by a single
collection (11.11.2002, north of Stara
Zagora, near Tabashka River, N42º 29′ E25
º 38′) of faeces from the animal latrine sites,
well visible on terrain (R
OPER
et al., 1993).
They were stored in plastic bags and
afterwards studied in laboratory
conditions. The fruit remains were
determined using a comparative collection
of seeds and pits, made especially for this
study.
The dominant habitats at the study area
were xeric Quercus spp. and Carpinus
orientalis forests, bush areas and pasture
lands on limestone terrains. Small patches
of agricultural areas and river sites were
also present in the badgers’ territory.
Diet was investigated by a calculation of
individual food item frequency against all
items registered, when considering one pit
to be one fruit (for cornel-trees and
blackhorns), and the maximal number of
seeds counted per one fruit (for pears).
Results and discussion
Total 1361 individual food items were
identified in Eurasian badger faces from
which the fruits of the Cornel-tree (Cornus
mas) strongly dominated (n=1332, 96.5%
from all items, 98.2% from all fruits) (Table
1). All other fruits were eaten occasionally
and did not play a significant role in its
diet. Despite a lack of a detailed search of
animal remains in the faces, some insect
chitin remains were also registered (mainly
beetles and grasshoppers) all with low
frequency.
Our results showed that the main plant
species consumed by the badger family
under study at the particular autumn
period were the Cornel-tree fruits.
Table 1. Undigested food remains found in badgers
(Meles meles) faeces during autumn in Sredna Gora
Mts.
Food items (fruits) N %
Cornus mas
1332
96,5
Pyrus communis
23 1,7
Pyrus sativa
1 0,1
Prunus spinosa
1 0,1
Total fruits 1357
98,3
Other undigested remains
Coleoptera
10 0,7
Orthoptera
13 0,9
Insecta – larvae (undet.)
1 0,1
Total insect remains 24 1,7
Total food items
1381
100,0
References
M
ACDONALD
D., P. B
ARRET
1993. Mammals
of Britain & Europe. Harper Collins
Publishing, 312 p.
M
ARASSI
M., K. B
IANCARDI
2002. Diet of the
Eurasian Badger (Meles meles) in an area
of the Italian Prealps. - Hystrix, 13 (1-2):
19-28.
P
OPOV
V., A. S
EDEFCHEV
2003. The Mammals
of Bulgaria [Bozainitzite na Balgaria].
Sofia, Vitosha Publishing, 291 p. (In
Bulgarian).
R
OPER
, T., L. C
ONRADT
, J. B
UTLER
, S.
C
HRISTIAN
, J. O
STLER
, T. S
CHMID
1993.
Territorial Marking with Faeces in
Badgers (Meles meles): A Comparison of
Boundary and Hinterland Latrine Use. -
Behaviour, 127(3/4): 289-307.
R
OPER
T., P. L
ÜPS
1995.
Diet of badgers
(Meles meles) in central Switzerland: an
analysis of stomach contents. -
Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, 60(1): 9-19.
R
OPER
T., E. M
ICKEVICIUS
1995. Badger
Meles meles diet: a review of the
literature from the former Soviet Union.
- Mammal Review, 25: 117–129.
© Ecologia Balkanica
http://eb.bio.uni-plovdiv.bg
Union of Scientists in Bulgaria – Plovdiv
University of Plovdiv Publishing House
R
OSALINO
L., F. L
OUREIRO
, D. M
ACDONALD
,
M. S
ANTON
-R
EIS
2005. Dietary shifts of
the badger (Meles meles) in
Mediterranean woodlands: an
opportunistic forager with seasonal
specialisms. - Zeitschrift fur
Saugetierkunde, 70(1): 12-23.
S
IDOROVICH
V.
1995.
Minks, otters, weasel
and other mustelids [Norki, vidra, laska i
drugie kuni]. Uradjai, Minsk, 190 p. (In
Russian).
Върху консумацията на плодове от
язовеца (Meles meles) (Mammalia:
Mustelidae) през есенния период в Средна
гора (България)
Дилян Г. Георгиев
ПУ П. Хилендарски”, Биологически факултет,
Катедра Екология и ООС”, ул. Цар Асен 24,
4000 Пловдив, Е-mail: diliangeorgiev@abv.bg
Резюме. Проучването е проведено на
базата на общо 1357 отделни
идентифицирани плодове, събрани като
костилки в екскременти от едно
семейство язовци (Meles meles) в Средна
гора, северно от град Стара Загора през
ноември, 2002 година. Изследвани са
само видовете плодове в хранителния
спектър на вида. Изчислен е процента
на срещаемост на отделните плодове на
даден вид растение спрямо всички
установени в пробите. Установено е
силно доминиране на плодовете на
дряна (Cornus mas) с 98.2% от всички
установени плодове.
Received: 22.06.2009
Accepted: 14.07.2009
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