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Experimental Comparisons of Diet Selection by Mountain Goats and Mountain Sheep in Colorado

Thomas V. Dailey, N. Thompson Hobbs and T. N. Woodard
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Jul., 1984), pp. 799-806
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3801426
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3801426
Page Count: 8
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Experimental Comparisons of Diet Selection by Mountain Goats and Mountain Sheep in Colorado
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Abstract

Mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) and mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis) grazing on the same alpine sites chose similar diets during summer but not during winter. Their diets were dominated by forbs in early summer; however, intake of graminoids increased with advancing season. Neutral detergent solubles and crude-protein levels of summer diets of both species declined, whereas unlignified cell wall concentrations increased as summer progressed. During winter, mountain sheep chose diets containing more graminoids, unlignified cell wall, and in vitro digestible dry matter, and less dicots, neutral detergent solubles, and lignin than those selected by mountain goats. Our findings of seasonal differences in diet overlap are consistent with contemporary competition theory. We conclude that mixtures of dicots and graminoids in winter habitats of sympatric mountain goats and mountain sheep can reduce the potential for food competition between these species.

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