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The Allometry of Food Intake in Grazing Ruminants

A. W. Illius and I. J. Gordon
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 56, No. 3 (Oct., 1987), pp. 989-999
DOI: 10.2307/4961
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4961
Page Count: 11
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The Allometry of Food Intake in Grazing Ruminants
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Abstract

(1) A simulation model of grazing mechanics in ruminants shows that, due to the allometric relations of bite size and metabolic requirements to body size, small animals are able to subsist on shorter swards than large animals. (2) The density of nutrients in the grazed horizon of the modelled swards markedly affected the ability of animals of a given body size to satisfy their energy requirements. (3) By extension, the allometric relationships would be expected to apply in selective grazing and browsing species in their choice of food items of different size and nutrient content. (4) The results support the argument that sexual segregation and habitat choice of dimorphic species is an effect of scramble competition for limited resources, the males thus being excluded from mutually preferred swards. (5) The model provides an explanation for two interspecific phenomena amongst grazers: grazing succession and grazing facilitation.

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