Many animals consume mixed diets that maximize their fitness by optimizing macronutrient intake. We tested whether brown bears (Ursus arctos), generalist omnivores that hibernate, regulated their diet to a common nutrient target, achieved a nutrient target related to fitness, and selected a nutrient target that differed between seasons and from other species with differing life histories. When given unlimited access to 2 or 3 highly digestible foods containing primarily protein, carbohydrate, or lipid, brown bears selected mixed diets in which protein provided 17% ± 4% SD of the metabolizable energy and 22% ± 6% of the dry matter. This dietary protein content maximized the rate of gain per unit of energy consumed, is similar to the level preferred by other omnivores, and is less than that preferred by obligate carnivores. Between seasons, bears selected similar dietary protein levels, although the proportion of lipid was higher during the fall than during the spring. Bears strongly preferred lipids over carbohydrates, as did other carnivores, but they used lipids and carbohydrates with equal efficiency to produce a dietary protein content that maximized mass gain per unit of energy intake. Thus, dietary sources of lipids and carbohydrates play an interchangeable and important role in determining the productivity of bears that goes beyond their role in providing energy.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 95 • No. 1