Dimensions of the intestine, diet and faecal water loss in some African antelope

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Abstract

Measurements of the intestine of 16 species of antelope were allometrically analysed. Moisture content of the digesta showed greatest interspecific variation in the spiral and distal colon. Small intestine length showed positive allometry, its circumference showed negative allometry, resulting in a surface area which was isometric or related to metabolic rate. Dimensions of the villi were non-allometric. Grazers had lower surface areas of the small intestine than intermediates/concentrate selectors owing to smaller circumferences. In the large intestine, the dimensions of the distal colon showed the greatest interspecific variation. Lengths of the large intestine showed positive allometry except for the caecum which was isometric. Circumferences and areas of the large intestine were isometric or related to metabolic rate. Species producing dry dung had larger lengths and areas of the large intestine but a smaller circumference of the proximal and spiral colon and also showed greater drying of digesta per unit area than those producing wetter dung. Grazers had smaller lengths, circumferences and areas of the large intestine than intermediates/concentrate selectors.

Ancillary