In 1973, a herd of Camargue horses was released into a nature reserve in the Rhone delta of France. The comprehensive long-term study of the resulting population eruption provided the opportunity for a unique analysis of the feeding ecology of free-ranging horses. Horses and Grasses summarizes the study covering digestive physiology, behavior, growth, and demography of wild horses and zebras. It examines how these equids are affected by variations in abundance and quality of grasses and in turn, how grazing affects the plant communities. The book also provides insight into the consequences of the hind-gut fermentation system for equid behavior and ecology and contrasts this feeding strategy with that of the recently evolved, highly successful grazing bovids.
Table of ContentsSection A. Introduction and Background.- 1. Grasslands and Grazing Ungulates.- 2. The Horses and the Camargue.- Section B. Harvesting Nutrients.- 3. Extracting Nutrients from Plant Tissues.- 4. DietsTheir Botanical Composition and Nutritional Value.- 5. Foraging Behavior.- Section C. Nutrient Use.- 6. Social Organization, Mating System, and Feeding Behavior.- 7. Reproduction and Growth.- Section D. Equids and Their Habitats.- 8. The Impact of Grazing on the Plants and Animals of the Camargue.- 9. Equids in Grazing Systems.- Appendixes.- Appendix 1. Latin Names and Common Names of Extant Mammal and Bird Species to which Reference Is Made in the Text.- Appendix 2. The History and Management of Camargue Horses.- Appendix 3. Climate.- Appendix 4. Vegetation.- Appendix 5. Parasites.- Appendix 6. Methods Used for the Study of the Horses’ Diets, Food Intake, and Digestion.- Appendix 7. Methods Used for the Study of Social Behavior.- Appendix 8 Parentage of the Horses in the Tour Du Valat Herd 1974–1979.- Appendix 9. The Methods Used for the Study of Reproduction and Growth.- Appendix 10. Methods Used for the Study of the Horses; Impact on the Vegetation.- References.