Summer diets of wild and domestic ungulates in Nepal Himalaya (2004)

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The selection of summer forage by three sympatric ungulates in the Damodar Kunda region of upper Mustang in north Nepal was studied to assess the extent of food overlap between them. To compare their diets, a microhistological technique of faecal analysis was used, adjusted for inherent biases by comparing it with bite-count data obtained in domestic goats. Tibetan argali Ovis ammon hodgsoni, naur (blue sheep or bharal) Pseudois nayaur and domestic goat Capra hircus consumed mostly forbs, graminoids and browse, respectively. The proportions of food items in their diets were significantly different both at the plant species (P<0.02) and at the forage category level (P<0.001). Except for sharing three common plants (Agrostis sp., Stipa sp. and Potentilla fruticosa), dietary overlap at the species level was quite low. At the forage category level, naur and domestic goat overlappedmore than the other ungulate pairs. Although all three species were opportunistic, mixed feeders, argali was a more selective forb specialist grazer than the other two ungulates. Owing to some spatial separation and little dietary overlap, interspecific competition for summer forage was low. If animal densities increase, however, goats are expected to compete more with naur than with argali because of their more similar diets. Owing to differences in forage selection by argali and naur throughout their large geographical ranges, reflecting adaptations to local ecological conditions, inferences regarding forage competition between domestic livestock and these two wild caprins need to be made from local, site-specific studies, rather than from general diet comparisons.
Year: 2004
Language: English
In: Jounal of Zoology, London (2005) 266, 111?119,



 Record created 2011-12-21, last modified 2013-01-17