Herbivory and Body Size: Allometries of Diet Quality and Gastrointestinal Physiology, and Implications for Herbivore Ecology and Dinosaur GigantismReport as inadecuate




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Digestive physiology has played a prominent role in explanations for terrestrial herbivore body size evolution and size-driven diversification and niche differentiation. This is based on the association of increasing body mass BM with diets of lower quality, and with putative mechanisms by which a higher BM could translate into a higher digestive efficiency. Such concepts, however, often do not match empirical data. Here, we review concepts and data on terrestrial herbivore BM, diet quality, digestive physiology and metabolism, and in doing so give examples for problems in using allometric analyses and extrapolations. A digestive advantage of larger BM is not corroborated by conceptual or empirical approaches. We suggest that explanatory models should shift from physiological to ecological scenarios based on the association of forage quality and biomass availability, and the association between BM and feeding selectivity. These associations mostly but not exclusively allow large herbivores to use low quality forage only, whereas they allow small herbivores the use of any forage they can physically manage. Examples of small herbivores able to subsist on lower quality diets are rare but exist. We speculate that this could be explained by evolutionary adaptations to the ecological opportunity of selective feeding in smaller animals, rather than by a physiologic or metabolic necessity linked to BM. For gigantic herbivores such as sauropod dinosaurs, other factors than digestive physiology appear more promising candidates to explain evolutionary drives towards extreme BM.



Author: Marcus Clauss , Patrick Steuer, Dennis W. H. Müller, Daryl Codron, Jürgen Hummel

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/



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