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      Seasonal pattern of food habits of large herbivores in riverine alluvial grasslands of Brahmaputra floodplains, Assam

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          Abstract

          Jarman–Bell (1974) hypothesized that in the dry savanna of Africa, small-bodied herbivores tend to browse more on forage with high protein and low fibre content. This implies browsing on high nutritive forage by meso-herbivores, and grazing and mixed feeding on coarse forage by mega-herbivores. We tested this hypothesis in the riverine alluvial grasslands of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), where seasonal flood and fire play an important role in shaping the vegetation structure. We analyzed the feeding habits and quality of major forage species consumed by three mega-herbivores, viz . greater one-horned rhino, Asian elephant, and Asiatic wild buffalo, and three meso-herbivores, viz . swamp deer, hog deer, and sambar. We found that both mega and meso-herbivores were grazers and mixed feeders. Overall, 25 forage plants constituted more than 70% of their diet. Among monocots, family Poaceae with Saccharum spp . (contributing > 9% of the diet), and, among dicots, family Rhamnaceae with Ziziphus jujuba (contributing > 4% of the diet) fulfilled the dietary needs. In the dry season, the concentration of crude protein, neutral detergent fibre, calcium, sodium, and phosphorous varied significantly between monocots and dicots, whereas only calcium and sodium concentrations varied significantly in the wet season. Dicots were found to be more nutritious throughout the year. Compared to the dry season, the monocots, viz. Alpinia  nigra, Carex vesicaria, Cynodon dactylonEchinochloa crus-galli, Hemarthria compressa, Imperata cylindrica, and Saccharum spp ., with their significantly high crude protein, were more nutritious during the wet season. Possibly due to the availability of higher quality monocots in the wet season, both mega and meso-herbivores consume it in high proportion. We concluded that the Jarman–Bell principle does not apply to riverine alluvial grasslands as body size did not explain the interspecific dietary patterns of the mega and meso-herbivores. This can be attributed to seasonal floods, habitat and forage availability, predation risk, and management practices such as controlled burning of the grasslands. The ongoing succession and invasion processes, anthropogenic pressures, and lack of grassland conservation policy are expected to affect the availability of the principal forage and suitable habitat of large herbivores in the Brahmaputra floodplains, which necessitates wet grassland-based management interventions for the continued co-existence of large herbivores in such habitats.

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          Ungulate Effects on the Functional Species Composition of Plant Communities: Herbivore Selectivity and Plant Tolerance

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            Models and estimators linking individual-based and sample-based rarefaction, extrapolation and comparison of assemblages

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              Collapse of the world’s largest herbivores

              The collapsing populations of large herbivores will have extensive ecological and social consequences.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                ainul.hussain@gmail.com
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                10 January 2022
                10 January 2022
                2022
                : 12
                : 482
                Affiliations
                GRID grid.452923.b, ISNI 0000 0004 1767 4167, Wildlife Institute of India, ; Chandrabani, Post Box # 18, Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand 248001 India
                Article
                4295
                10.1038/s41598-021-04295-4
                8748768
                35013461
                6ee8baba-cb74-4f85-bf0d-609b3f487d6e
                © The Author(s) 2022

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                History
                : 20 March 2021
                : 13 December 2021
                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001843, Science and Engineering Research Board;
                Award ID: SR/SO/AS-28/2012
                Categories
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                © The Author(s) 2022

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                behavioural ecology,community ecology
                Uncategorized
                behavioural ecology, community ecology

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