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Plant‐eating carnivores: Multispecies analysis on factors influencing the frequency of plant occurrence in obligate carnivores

Citation

Yoshimura, Hiroto; Hirata, Satoshi; Kinoshita, Kodzue (2022), Plant‐eating carnivores: Multispecies analysis on factors influencing the frequency of plant occurrence in obligate carnivores, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.x95x69phj

Abstract

Plant-eating behavior is one of the greatest mysteries in obligate carnivores. Despite unsuitable morphological and physiological traits for plant consumption, the presence of plants in scat or stomach contents has been reported in various carnivorous species. However, researchers’ interpretations of this subject are varied, and knowledge about it is scarce, without any multispecies studies. This study assessed the extent of variation in the frequency of plant occurrence in scat and stomach contents, as well as its relationship with various factors in 24 felid species using data from 213 published articles. Since the frequency of plant occurrence has not always been reported, we created two-part models and estimated parameters in a Bayesian framework. We found a significant negative relationship between the frequency of plant occurrence and body mass. This may be because plant-eating behavior reduces the energy loss caused by parasites and increases the efficiency of energy intake, which has a greater importance in smaller animals that have relatively high metabolic rates. This exploratory study highlights the importance of considering plant consumption in dietary studies on carnivorous species to understand the adaptive significance of this behavior and the relationship between obligate carnivores and plants.

Methods

Data collection methods are described in the main article. For details about the collection of environmental data, see the Appendix S2.

Funding

Leading Graduate Program in Primatology and Wildlife Science of Kyoto University

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Award: JP21J23216