Potatoes and the nutritional ecology of crested porcupines in a desert biome.

P. U. Alkon, D. Saltz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Hystrix indica in the Negev desert highlands of S Israel forage on cultivated potatoes. Captive porcupines ate potato tubers at a rate of 0.9 + or - 0.2 g per bite; fasted animals consumed 530 + or - 37 g in the first 45 min of feeding and 148 + or - 42 g h- 1 thereafter. New tubers had water contents of 83.9 + or - 1.9% and energy values of 15.4 + or - 1.6 kJ g-1 dry matter. Owing to bulk food processing constraints, porcupines are unlikely to maintain energy balance on potatoes alone, but such a diet would meet the animals' water requirements. Potato cultivation supplements natural food and water, and thus is a major enhancement of desert habitats. Year-round porcupine carrying capacity may increase 2- fold within 3 km of potato fields. Approaches for minimizing porcupine-agriculture conflicts are considered. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-737
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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