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1 March 2008 Grit Ingestion and Size-related Consumption of Tubers by Graylag Geese
Juan A. Amat, Nico Varo
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In herbivorous birds the processing rate of food is constrained by gizzard capacity. To enhance digestive processes, many species ingest grit to grind the food. Grit ingestion, however, may further limit the capacity of the gizzard. Graylag Geese (Anser anser) wintering in SW Spain fed mainly on Alkali Bulrush (Scirpus maritimus) tubers, showing a preference for small tubers. This preference may be due to a faster disintegration of small tubers than larger ones inside the gizzard. As larger tubers are likely coarser than smaller tubers, more grit would be necessary to process larger tubers. However, the ingestion of more grit to grind large tubers would be at the expense of ingesting additional tubers because of gizzard capacity limitations. Under these circumstances, there may be an inverse relationship between tuber size and amount of grit ingested to optimize food ingestion. Indeed, we found such a relationship. Grit facilitated the disintegration of tubers. This suggests that relying on some amount of grit to facilitate the grinding of food should outweigh the loss of gizzard capacity to the amount of food ingested.

Juan A. Amat and Nico Varo "Grit Ingestion and Size-related Consumption of Tubers by Graylag Geese," Waterbirds 31(1), 133-137, (1 March 2008).[133:GIASCO]2.0.CO;2
Received: 18 December 2006; Accepted: 1 August 2007; Published: 1 March 2008
Anser anser
digestive bottleneck
gizzard capacity
Graylag Goose
grit ingestion
herbivorous birds
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