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Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (3): 482-491    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-018-0010-5
Orginal Article     
Diet characteristics of wild sheep (Ovis ammon darwini) in the Mengluoke Mountains, Xinjiang, China
Bang LI1, Wenxuan XU1, A BLANK David1,2, Muyang WANG1, Weikang YANG1,*()
1 Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresource in Arid Land, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
2 Research Center for Ecology and Environment of Central Asia, Bishkek 720001, Kyrgyzstan
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Abstract  

In most arid and semi-arid regions of the world, domestic livestock and native wildlife share pastures, and their competition for forage and habitat is thought to be a serious conservation issue. Moreover, unmanaged grazing by livestock can cause the population decline in wild ungulates. The diet of an animal species is a determining aspect of its ecological niche, and investigating its diet has been one of the initial steps in basic ecology study of a new species. To get an approximate understanding of the interspeci?c food relationships of argali (Ovis ammon darwini) between sexes, and sympatric domestic sheep and goats, we compared the diet compositions and diet-overlaps among these herbivores, i.e., male argali, female argali, domestic sheep, and domestic goats in the Mengluoke Mountains of Xinjiang, China by using micro-histological fecal analysis. Female argali, male argali, domestic sheep and domestic goat primarily consumed forbs (43.31%±4.86%), grass (36.02%±9.32%), forbs (41.01%±9.18%), and forbs (36.22%±10.61%), respectively in warm season. All these animals consumed mostly shrubs (female argali: 36.47%±7.56%; male argali: 47.28%±10.75%; domestic sheep: 40.46%±9.56%; and domestic goats: 42.88%±9.34%, respectively) in cold season. The diet-overlaps were relatively high among all species in cold season with values ranging from 0.88 to 0.94. Furthermore, Schoener’s index measured between each possible pair of 4 herbivores increased from the warm season to the cold season. The results illustrate that the high degree of diet-overlap of argali and domestic livestock (sheep and goat) may pose a threat to the survival of the argali in cold season. From the viewpoint of rangeland management and conservation of the endangered argali, the numbers of domestic sheep and goats should be limited in cold season to reduce food competition.



Key wordsargali      fecal analysis      food habits      competition      diet-overlap     
Published: 10 June 2018
Corresponding Authors: Weikang YANG     E-mail: yangwk@ms.xjb.ac.cn
Cite this article:

Bang LI, Wenxuan XU, A BLANK David, Muyang WANG, Weikang YANG. Diet characteristics of wild sheep (Ovis ammon darwini) in the Mengluoke Mountains, Xinjiang, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(3): 482-491.

URL:

http://jal.xjegi.com/10.1007/s40333-018-0010-5     OR     http://jal.xjegi.com/Y2018/V10/I3/482

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