The importance of the nutritive value of old bones in the diet of Bearded vultures Gypaetus barbatus

Margalida, Antoni; Villalba, Daniel (2017). The importance of the nutritive value of old bones in the diet of Bearded vultures Gypaetus barbatus. Scientific Reports, 7(1) Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/s41598-017-08812-2

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Vultures are central-place foragers and need to optimize their foraging behaviour to offset travel costs by increasing their energy gain. This process is more obvious in certain vulture species that do not feed their young by regurgitation and so must carry food items back to the nest. The Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus is the only species with a bone-diet based. We analysed the chemical composition of bones and the age-related changes in their nutritive value to assess the differences in energy content between bones of differing age, body part and species. We found differences between specific anatomical parts, species and the age of the bones. Fresh bones contain 108% as much energy as fresh meat and, interestingly, dry bones retain 90% of the protein found in fresh bones. Dry femurs weighing 140 g retain enough protein to be comparable to 111 g of fresh meat, in energy terms. Compared to meat-eating species, the specialized osteophagous diet of the Bearded Vulture seems to have certain advantages. A better understanding of nutrient levels in food remains could help to improve theoretical foraging models, assist in conservation management, and even improve our understanding of the use of bones by early hominids.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Margalida, Antoni

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

2045-2322

Publisher:

Nature Publishing Group

Language:

English

Submitter:

Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

18 Apr 2018 10:44

Last Modified:

25 Oct 2019 07:14

Publisher DOI:

10.1038/s41598-017-08812-2

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.111251

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/111251

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