Garnish for insects on the cows menu
Livestock, it seems, consume more than plants. This is one of the main and controversial conclusions of an article that under the title Revealing cryptic interactions between large mammalian herbivores and plant-dwelling arthropods via DNA metabarcoding, was published at the beginning of October in the magazine Ecology from American Ecological Society.
Large herbivorous mammals are frequently found with insects and arthropods that inhabit the plants on which they feed, however, their ingestion and the extent of this direct trophic interaction had rarely been addressed.
The study, based on the sequencing of DNA found in fresh cow dung, has found that these animals routinely ingest a wide variety of plant-dwelling insects. Thus, the team of scientists led by Moshe Inbar, of the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, of the University of Haifa, in Israel, stumbled upon that more than three-quarters of the cow droppings analyzed contained DNA from various groups of insects.
More than three-quarters of the analyzed cow droppings contained DNA from various groups of insects
Among the most frequently found DNA is that of some more immobile groups such as caterpillars and insects that feed within the plants’ own tissues, however, although to a lesser extent, that of some arthropods such as spiders was also found. “We identify groups of insects vulnerable to ingestion, such as sessile species and immature life stages, the authors explain. “In total, 25 families of insects and 4 families of arachnids were ingested, a pattern that varied during the season, but not with the intensity of grazing,” they continue.
“Livestock are probably not looking for these invertebrates, but still, This incidental predation could have major consequences for both cows and their prey“They add.” The contribution of insects to the diet of grazing mammals has never been measured before, but the results suggest that these herbivores could be considered omnivores“, they conclude with a statement that will probably give a lot to talk about.
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