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Influence of food shortage during the summer on body composition and reproductive hormones in the red fox, Vulpes vulpes

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Abstract:

Some mammalian carnivores compensate for prey shortage during the summer by increasing their consumption of wild berries. We tested whether such prey shortage affected all body components (e.g., fat, protein, water) equally, and whether it could affect reproduction. Two groups of wild red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were kept in captivity: the first group was fed a control diet of dog food, and the second group was fed a diet of dog food and fresh apples for 8 weeks during midsummer. The experimental diet contained 95% of the energy content of the control diet but only 55% of the protein and 46% of the fat content. Foxes fed the experimental diet simultaneously lost body fat and protein on the apple diet, but body reserves were quickly restored upon return to the control diet. We found no evidence that protein and energy deficiency during summer impaired reproduction the following spring.

Durant l'été, les mammifères carnivores peuvent compenser une pénurie de proies en consommant davantage de fruits sauvages. Nous avons vérifié si une telle carence alimentaire affecte de la même façon toutes les composantes du corps (e.g., graisses, protéines, contenu hydrique) et si elle influence aussi la reproduction. Deux groupes de Renards roux (Vulpes vulpes) ont été gardés en captivité : le premier a été nourri de moulée pour chien (groupe témoin), tandis que le deuxième a été nourri d'un mélange de moulée pour chien et de pommes durant 8 semaines en été. La nourriture expérimentale contenait 95 % de l'énergie fournie au groupe témoin, mais seulement 55 % des protéines et 46 % du gras. Les renards soumis au régime expérimental ont perdu simultanément des protéines et de la graisse corporelle durant la période expérimentale. Toutefois, les renards ont rapidement regagné la masse perdue lorsqu'ils ont reçu de nouveau de la nourriture normale. La carence estivale de nourriture n'a pas eu d'effets apparents sur les hormones de reproduction au printemps suivant.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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