deer fodder
Sat, 21 May 2005 14:05:39 PDT
Judy Glattstein wrote:

A state game biologist in Connecticut once told me that if you
> fertilized just two rows in the center of a 2 acre bean field that the
> deer would eat the fertilized rows for preference. So yes, nutritional
> value is a factor.

The ability of herbivores to detect differences in the nutritional status of
forage (and even mineral content of water) is well known. The most striking
example of this I have seen is elephants calmly feeding on Urtica massaica
(a nettle whose sting is as ferocious as the reputation of the eponymous
tribe) in preference to other lush growth around: nettles are known to be
nutrient rich and 'good for you' when safely boiled.

Further reverting to an earlier life as an elephant biologist, I was
particularly interested in the selection by elephants of certain tree barks,
which they ate in small quantities without wrecking the tree. In these cases
there is almost always a local medicinal use for the bark: in the case of
Prunus africana, one of these trees, its use for prostitis is international
and the demand for bark has led to the tree becoming very scarce in some
areas. I am convinced that elephants, like chimpanzees and other mammals,
are practising zoopharmacognosy, the detection of beneficial, medicinal
substances, and would love to be able to have a go at proving it. If someone
can think of a methodology please let me know!

Sorry to have wandered from the subject of deer damage...

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Garden Manager, Colesbourne Gardens

Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP


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