Title

A Simple and Environmentally Friendly Field Method for Fecal Analysis of Herbivore Diet

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2020

Publication Title

Wildlife Society Bulletin

Abstract

We developed a simple and environmentally‐friendly protocol for identifying herbivore diets by isolating and identifying microscopic vegetation fragments from fecal materials that can be easily applied in remote areas where laboratories are absent. We used feces from human‐habituated Virunga mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), whose diet is well‐known, to develop and validate the protocol. First, fresh materials from parts of the 5 most frequently consumed plants by the Virunga gorillas were collected from June to July, 2016, processed, and their distinctive features photographed using a digital microscope to establish a plant reference collection. Second, we collected fresh fecal samples from 16 known gorillas and successfully identified distinctive vegetation fragments of the 5 key food plants. The method is inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and does not require sophisticated laboratory equipment. It has the potential to be applied to species that cannot be easily studied by direct observation and those ranging in remote regions. The method can also be used in other studies involving plant‐animal interactions, the ontogeny of feeding behavior, and animal ecology.

Department

Biological and Environmental Sciences

Volume Number

44

Issue Number

4

First Page

807

Last Page

817

Comments

© 2020 The Wildlife Society.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1002/wsb.1143

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