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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2011

Authors: Popescu, FD; Hackländer, K; Arnold, W; Ruf, T

Title: Effects of season and reproductive state on lipid intake and fatty acid composition of gastrointestinal tract contents in the European hare.

Source: J Comp Physiol B. 2011; 181(5):681-689

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Arnold Walter
Ruf Thomas

Vetmed Research Units
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology

Project(s): Limits to sustained metabolic rate in mammals

We investigated lipid content and fatty acid (FA) composition of gastrointestinal tract contents in free-living, herbivorous European hares (Lepus europaeus). Mean crude fat content in hare stomachs and total gastrointestinal (GI) tracts was higher than expected for typical herbivore forages and peaked in late fall when hares massively deposited body fat reserves. Changes of FA proportions in different parts of the GI-tract indicated a highly preferential absorption of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). A further reduction of PUFA content in the caecum, along with the appearance of odd-chained FAs in caecum, caecotrophes, and colon content, pointed to a biohydrogenation of PUFA in the hare"s hindgut. GI-tract contents showed significant seasonal changes in their FA composition. Among PUFA, α-linolenic acid peaked in spring while linoleic acid was predominant in late summer and fall, which probably reflected changes in the plant composition of forage. However, independent of seasonal changes, GI-tracts of lactating females showed a significantly (+33%) higher content of linoleic acid, a FA that is known to increase reproductive performance in European hares. This finding suggests that lactating females actively selected dietary plants rich in linoleic acid, a PUFA that may represent a limited resource for European hares.

Keywords Pubmed: Animals
Dietary Fats/administration & dosage
Fatty Acids/analysis*
Fatty Acids, Unsaturated/analysis
Fatty Acids, Unsaturated/metabolism
Gastrointestinal Contents/chemistry
Gastrointestinal Tract/metabolism
Linoleic Acid/analysis
alpha-Linolenic Acid/analysis

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