Physiological ecology of the collared peccary in South Texas
Corn, Joseph L.
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The use of serum, urine, and fat parameters as nutritional indices in collared peccaries (Dicotyles tajacu) was assessed relative to seasonal changes in dietary protein and energy. Animals were collected in the field every 2-3 months for 1 year. Significant (P < 0.05) seasonal variation occurred in blood urea nitrogen (BUN), potassium, calcium, alkaline phosphatase, cholesterol, total protein, globulin, albumin/globulin ratio, creatinine, whole body weight, carcass weight, the kidney fat index (KFI), femur marrow fat, crude protein, digestible energy, and the urinary urea/creatinine ratio. Of the indices examined, BUN and the KFI were most labile in response to changes in nutritional intake. The KFI varied with digestible energy, but variation was considerably less than has been reported in other species. Both crude protein and energy intake influenced BUN. Whole body weights, carcass weights, and dietary crude protein levels were greater (P < 0.05) but BUN concentrations were lower (P < 0.05) in pregnant females than in non-pregnant females. Chloride and cholesterol concentrations were greater (P < 0.05) in females than males. Seasonal diet composition was determined by microhistological analysis of stomach contents. The consumption of browse, forbs, grasses, insects, and cactus varied seasonally. Relative frequencies ranged from 3.2-11.7% for grass, 8.0-35.9% for browse, 24.5-80.2% for cactus (including 42.1% cactus flowers in the high month), 0.4-55.4% for forbs, and 0.0-9.0% for insects. Little similarity existed between months in the diets and only 3 of 15 similarity indices calculated were above 50%. Of 54 plant species identified in the diet, only 11 occurred with a relative frequency >5.0%. Prickly pear (Opuntia lindheimeri) was the most commonly consumed food item; however, forbs and browse were as important during much of the year. Four nematode and one cestode species were recovered from the collared peccary. Physocephalus sexalatus and Texicospirura turki were the most abundant species. Gongylonema pulchrum represented a new host record. All common nematodes varied in abundance by month. Only Gongylonema pulchrum abundance varied by host sex. Helminth abundances did not vary relative to host condition.