Authors: ZANG SEN, CAO QING, ALIMUJIANG KEREMU, LIU SHANHUI, ZHANG YONGJUN, HU DEFU
Abstract: In 2001, Przewalski's horse (Equus przewalskii) was reintroduced into a Eurasian desert-steppe transitional area in China. Recent studies of Przewalski's horse have not examined the relationship between food patches and the horse's feeding choice behavior. This study aimed to study the vegetation communities of the reintroduction area and combine this information with feeding time data to explore the foraging strategy of Przewalski's horse. A total of 588 vegetation patches were surveyed, which were divided into 27 vegetation clusters. All vegetation clusters could be divided into feeding clusters, which constituted 59.23% of the study area, and nonforaging clusters, which constituted 11.14%. The remaining 29.63% was bare ground. Based on the degree of use by Przewalski's horse, the vegetation clusters can be divided into high-, medium-, and poor-utilization groups. Among these, the average foraging time per unit area of the high-utilization group was 1.59 times that of the medium-utilization group and 23.68 times that of the poor-utilization group. Based on the results, we can conclude that in desert grassland with low primary productivity, the feeding strategy of Przewalski's horse is first to satisfy its energy demands and then its demand for quality food.
Keywords: Equus przewalskii, releasing site, food patches, TWINSPAN method, feeding habit, foraging strategy
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