Journal of Veterinary Medical Science
Online ISSN : 1347-7439
Print ISSN : 0916-7250
ISSN-L : 0916-7250
Decaying toxic wood as sodium supplement for herbivorous mammals in Gabon
Yuji IWATAYoshihiro NAKASHIMASayaka TSUCHIDAPierre Philippe Mbehang NGUEMAChieko ANDOKazunari USHIDAJuichi YAMAGIWA
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Article ID: 15-0111

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African rainforest harbors herbivores at high density. However, because plants and soils typically lack in some essential minerals, rainforest is not always a suitable habitat for herbivores. How they fulfill the mineral requirements is therefore an important question to animal ecology and conservation. Although large marshes, called ‘bais’, are often mentioned as efficient mineral-resource, little information on other sodium resources has still been available. Our laboratory works and field surveys found that a peculiar item, decaying wood stumps of Anthostema aubryanum, played as a major sodium resource for herbivores in Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, Gabon. When A. aubryanum is alive, the sodium content of its bark is low and its latex is toxic. Sodium is accumulated in decaying stumps (mean=1,343 mg/kg dry matter). Eight herbivores visited stumps to ingest the dead wood. Fecal sample analysis revealed that western lowland gorillas, a species most-frequently using the stumps, consumed large amount of the dead wood as regular food. Our findings suggest that decaying A. aubryanum is critical sodium-resources and is a key species for herbivores in our study area. Importance of the A. aubryanum may be particularly large there, because it is a limited sodium-rich material that is available year round. Our study site is known as the site where the densities of several herbivores are among the highest at Central Africa. The relatively high herbivores density in our study site may partly depend on decaying A. aubryanum as sodium resources.

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