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Body size, digestive systems shape ungulate foraging


Research led by a University of Wyoming graduate student involving about 50 scientists from across the globe has provided new insights into the behaviour of ungulates (hoofed animals) as it relates to forage conditions and water availability.

Saeideh Esmaeili, who graduated from UW’s Program in Ecology in December 2020 and is now a postdoctoral assistant at Colorado State University, is the lead author of a paper that appears in the journal Ecology Letters. It explores the foraging behaviour of 30 species of ungulates across North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, ranging from elk and mule deer in Wyoming to gazelles, impalas, reindeer, wildebeest, wild asses and zebras.

“By combining GPS relocations with remotely sensed data on forage characteristics and surface water, we quantified the effect of body size and digestive system in determining movements of 30 populations of ungulates,” Esmaeili says. MORE