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Keywords:

  • fiber utilization;
  • lemurs;
  • total dietary fiber;
  • insoluble fiber;
  • soluble fiber;
  • primate nutrition

Abstract

In vivo digestibility and transit of two experimental diets were compared across four lemur species for which gastrointestinal morphology and preliminary data on physiology differ:Varecia variegata (VV), Eulemur fulvus (EF), Propithecus verreauxi (PV), and Hapalemur griseus (HG). Since free-ranging groups consume varied amounts of slowly fermentable insoluble fiber (IF) and rapidly fermentable soluble fiber (SF), differences in digestibility may be related to variation in the fiber types consumed. To investigate this, two diets were designed to provide 28% of dry matter (DM) as total dietary fiber (TDF). The ratio of IF/SF (g/g) differed across the diets (12.15:1 for the IF diet, and 3.76:1 for the IF/SF diet). The DM digestibility (DMD) of both diets differed across species: DMD was lower for EF and VV (approximately 56–58%), and higher for PV (72%) and HG (76%). The fiber digestibility results were as follows: TDF digestibility was similar for VV and EF (23% and 28%), higher for PV (56%), and highest for HG (66%). IF digestibility was lower for VV and EF (20% and 28%), and higher for PV and HG (53% and 62%). The transit times (TTs) of the two markers Cr and Co were similar (approximately 3.5 hr for VV and EF, 25 hr for PV, and 30 hr for HG). The mean retention times (MRTs) showed the same trend. The results from these captive groups suggest there are large differences in digestive efficiency that are likely related to the varied fiber composition of the free-ranging diet, and the amount of time the digesta are retained in the gut. Am. J. Primatol. 64:323–335, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.