Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The importance of cultivated plants in the diet of red and roe deer and mouflon.

Abstract

The botanical composition of red and roe deer and mouflon diet was studied in the mosaic landscape in Drahanská vrchovina highlands, Czech Republic. We focused on the proportion and quality of agricultural crops and natural forest plants and estimated quality of the herbivore diet. Diet quality was monitored by the near infrared reflectance spectroscopy on the basis of nutritional quality of diet items. Red deer, roe deer and mouflon ingested all cultivated plants growing close to forest. However, the proportion of cultivated plants varied between seasons and herbivore species. The peak of crops consumption occurred in summer - when cereals spikes were ripe. The average proportion of corn for red deer was 40%. Cultivated plants were well accessible for herbivores in the study area and during vegetation period formed an important part of their diet, but the importance of cultivated plants for herbivores was lower compared with natural food resources present in forests during vegetation period. Although the main natural food sources had lower nutritional value, they formed the main part of herbivore diet in the study area. The availability of cultivated plants increases the quality of food supply during the growing season, but for herbivores the natural food sources are crucial, forming the main part of their diet both in summer and in winter. Wildlife management should reckon with feeding preferences of herbivores.