Effects of food quality, diet preference and water on patch use by Nubian ibex

Valeria Hochman, Burt P. Kotler

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    56 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Measuring patch use of a forager can reveal not only its cost and benefits from foraging, but also the importance of environmental factors and the significance of energy, nutrients and predation risk to its fitness. In order to assess the effects of various variables that may affect the foraging behavior of free-ranging Nubian ibex in the Negev Desert, Israel, giving-up densities (GUD) in artificial food patches were measured following Kotler et al. In particular, we tested the effects of food quality and water availability on Nubian ibex foraging behavior. To do so, we (1) tested whether the tannic acid content of food affected diet preferences, (2) assayed their diet selection strategy, (3) tested if the foraging decisions of the Nubian ibex were affected by the availability of water and (4) determined the nutritional relationship between food resources and water. Nubian ibex had lower GUDs and used resources patches more intensively where water was available, the food quality was higher and the location was closer to the escape terrain. Nubian ibex showed an expanding specialist diet selection when exploiting resource patches with a mix of items that differ in quality. Overall, food and water were complementary resources for Nubian ibex, and tannins reduced food quality. These factors help to determine patch foraging behavior decisions in Nubian ibex and contribute to habitat quality.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)547-554
    Number of pages8
    JournalOikos
    Volume112
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Mar 2006

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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