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Rumen–reticulum characteristics, scaling relationships, and ontogeny in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

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Scaling relationships between body mass and gut capacity are valuable to predicting digestive efficiency. Interspecific scaling relationships between body mass and gut capacity have consistently estimated a slope of 1.0; however, intraspecific scaling relationships between body mass and gut capacity have been highly variable. We examined the influence of demands of growth and production on scaling relationships of body mass and rumen–reticulum characteristics in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780)) because little is known about how juvenile and subadult ruminants accommodate increased digesta masses. We sampled 108 animals over a 2-year period and assessed the influence of body mass, time of kill, crude protein (%), and acid detergent fiber (%) in the rumen, lactation, sex, and back fat on rumen–reticulum organ mass, rumen–reticulum capacity, wet mass of the digesta, and the dry mass of the digesta. Juvenile and subadult white-tailed deer had rumen–reticulum organ masses, capacity, and digesta masses that were similar to adults because body mass and rumen–reticulum scaling relationships all had scalars similar to 1.0. Thus, under the confines of our study, ontogeny plays only a minor role in the physiological characteristics of the rumen–reticulum and the scaling relationships of body mass and rumen–reticulum capacity.

Keywords: Odocoileus virginianus; body mass; digesta mass; masse corporelle; masse du digesta; ontogenetic; ontogénétique; rumen–reticulum; réticulo-rumen; scaling; échelle

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2012

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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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