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Arturo G.-C.,Grup de Recerca en Remugants | Diana G.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Ramon L.-O.J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Gregorio M.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | And 9 more authors.
Ecological Indicators

Faecal nitrogen (FN) - the combination of metabolic nitrogen and residual food nitrogen - has been used as a proxy for diet quality in wild and domestic ruminants for over half a century. However, a common misconception in some of these studies is that FN is a direct proxy for dietary N, in spite of experimental evidence that links FN to general diet digestibility. Additionally, gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) can alter N metabolism and increase FN by various mechanisms. To clarify the role of dietary N, fibre and GIN as a factor in FN excretion, 10 naturally parasitised sheep were fed two different isocaloric diets (LPF: low-protein, low-fibre; HPF: high-protein, high-fibre). One month after these diets began, a single anthelmintic treatment was applied to remove GIN, after which the sheep were kept on the same diet for an additional 2 weeks. Throughout the experiment, individual faecal samples were obtained to estimate both FN and GIN intensity (using faecal egg counts, FEC). In addition, two blood samples were taken before and after deworming to measure serum total protein concentrations (TP) as a proxy for protein absorption. In spite of the difference in dietary protein, FN was higher on an LPF diet, supporting the overall digestibility concept. The influence of GIN on FN was later revealed by the anthelmintic treatment, which led to a decrease of FEC and FN in both dietary groups. Serum total protein showed a slight but non-significant increase in both groups after the anthelmintic treatment. Our study supports not only the concept that FN is a proxy for diet digestibility, and not directly for dietary N, but also that gastrointestinal nematodes limit its use as a proxy for diet quality in ruminants, especially under high parasite loads (e.g., 1000 faecal eggs per gram of faeces). Such limitations should be considered before using FN for wildlife nutrition monitoring. Some recommendations are given to avoid misinterpretations. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Martinez-Guijosa J.,University of Murcia | Martinez-Carrasco C.,University of Murcia | Lopez-Olvera J.R.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Fernandez-Aguilar X.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | And 11 more authors.
Parasites and Vectors

Background: Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica pyrenaica) is a nearly monomorphic mountain ungulate with an unbiased sex-specific overwinter adult survival. Few differences in gastrointestinal parasitism have been reported by coprology as yet. This study aims to assess diversity, prevalence, intensity of infection and aggregation of gastrointestinal nematodes in male and female adult chamois. We expect no differences in the parasite infection rates between sexes. Findings: Gastrointestinal tracts of 28 harvested Pyrenean chamois in the Catalan Pyrenees (autumn 2012 and 2013) were necropsied and sexual differences in the diversity and structure of parasite community, prevalence, intensity of infection, and richness were investigated. We found 25 helminth species belonging to 13 different genera. Conclusions: Contrary to our expectations, male chamois showed different parasite communities, higher prevalence, intensity of infection and richness than females. Such sexual differences were clear irrespective of age of individuals. Hence, male chamois must cope with a more diverse and abundant parasite community than females, without apparent biological cost. Further research will be required to confirm this hypothesis. © 2015 Martínez-Guijosa et al.; licensee BioMed Central. Source

Garel M.,Center National Detudes Et Of Recherche Appliquee Faune Of Montagne | Garel M.,Center National Detudes Et Of Recherche Appliquee Cervides Sanglier | Gaillard J.-M.,CNRS Biometry and Evolutionary Biology Laboratory | Delorme D.,Center National Detudes Et Of Recherche Appliquee Cervides Sanglier | Laere G.V.,Center National Detudes Et Of Recherche Appliquee Cervides Sanglier
Ecological Indicators

In most species of vertebrates, teeth play a central role in the long-term performance of individuals. However, patterns of tooth development have been little investigated as an indicator of animal performance. We filled this gap using data collected during long-term capture-mark-recapture monitoring of 1152 roe deer fawns at Chizé, western France. This population fluctuated greatly in size during the 27 years of monitoring, offering a unique opportunity to assess how the eruption patterns of front teeth perform as indicator of animal performance. We used three indices of the eruption of permanent front teeth, the simplest being whether or not incisor I2 has erupted, and the most complex being a 12-level factor distinguishing the different stages of tooth eruption. We also assessed the relevance of these indices as compared to fawn body mass, a widely used indicator of animal performance of deer populations. Dental indices and body mass were positively correlated (all r > 0.62). Similarly to body mass, all indices based on tooth eruption patterns responded to changes of population size and can be reliably used to assess the relationship between roe deer and their environment. We found a linear decrease in body mass with increasing population size (r2 = 0.54) and a simultaneous delay in tooth development (r2 = 0.48-0.55 from the least to the most accurate indicator). However, tooth development would be not further delayed in years with the highest densities (>15 adult roe deer/100 ha). A path analysis supported the population density effect on tooth eruption patterns being mainly determined by the effect of population size on body mass. Our study provides managers with simple indices (e.g., presence-absence of I2) that provide a technically more easy way to standardize measurements of deer density-dependent responses over large geographical and temporal scales than would be possible with body mass. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Panayides P.,Game Fund Service | Lorenzini R.,Centro Of Referenza Nazionale Per La Medicina Forense Veterinaria | Garel M.,Center National Detudes Et Of Recherche Appliquee Faune Of Montagne | Anayiotos P.,Game Fund Service | Kassinis N.,Game Fund Service
Systematics and Biodiversity

The mouflon population of Cyprus (Ovis orientalis ophion) comprises historically preserved feral descendants of sheep domesticated during the Neolithic. We determined genetic identity of this taxon in order to elucidate its systematic placement and enforce its protection. We used 12 loci of microsatellite DNA to infer genetic relationships between the Cypriot mouflon and either long-time isolated (Corsica, Sardinia) or recently introduced (central Italy) European mouflons (O. o. musimon). We also sequenced the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) Cytochrome-b gene to infer the origin of the Cypriot mouflon including many National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) entries of European and Near Eastern conspecifics. Microsatellites disclosed net divergence between Western Mediterranean and Cypriot mouflon. The latter was included in the highly heterogeneous Near Eastern O. orientalis mtDNA group, Iran representing the most credited region as the source for its ancient introduction to Cyprus. Both international and national legislation protect the mouflon of Cyprus as a wild taxon (O. o. ophion). However, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and NCBI include the Cypriot mouflon as subspecies of its respective domestic species, the sheep (O. aries). Unfortunately, people charged with crime against protected mouflon may benefit from such taxonomic inconsistency between legislation and databases, as the latter can frustrate molecular DNA forensic outcomes. Until a definitive light can be shed on Near Eastern O. orientalis systematics, we suggest that the Cypriot mouflon should be unvaryingly referred to as O. o. ophion in order not to impair conservation in the country where it resides. © 2015 © The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London 2015. All Rights Reserved. Source

Garel M.,Center National Detudes Et Of Recherche Appliquee Faune Of Montagne | Gaillard J.-M.,Center National Detudes Et Of Recherche Appliquee Faune Of Montagne | Gaillard J.-M.,University of Lyon | Gaillard J.-M.,University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy

For species living in seasonal environments the understanding of demographic processes requires identifying the environmental factors during spring and summer that shape phenotypic variation. We assessed the effects of plant phenology and population abundance during springsummer on variation in autumn body mass among cohorts (1995-2006) of juvenile alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). We computed several metrics based on the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) to assess interannual variation in plant phenology and productivity. Body mass of both sexes decreased similarly during years with late springs (-20%) and with increasing population abundance (-15%), with no interactive effect. Our results also suggested that forage quality more than forage quantity influenced body mass of juveniles. Variation in body mass of juveniles thus can be used as an indicator of the relationship between chamois populations and their environment. This study also demonstrates the utility of satellite-based data in increasing our understanding of the consequences of springsummer conditions on life-history traits. © 2011 American Society of Mammalogists. Source

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