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Nutrient Variation in Beach Grass in Relation to Beach Vole Feeding
- Goldberg, Mark, Tabroff, Norman R., Tamarin, Robert H.
- Ecology 1980 v.61 no.5 pp. 1029-1033
- Ammophila breviligulata, Microtus, autumn, breeding, calcium, food choices, food plants, grasses, magnesium, malnutrition, nutrient content, phosphorus, roots, spring, summer, voles, winter, Massachusetts
- The beach vole (Microtus breweri), found only on Muskeget Island, Massachusetts, consumes different parts of its main food plant, beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata), at different times of the year. Blades are consumed in spring and summer, roots in the late summer and fall, and stems from the late fall through the winter into early spring. This feeding behavior, assessed by food choice experiments, was highly correlated with the fiber, water, and phosphorous content of the plant part. We confirm also the general observation that overall nutritional content (N, P, Mg, Ca) of the blades is high in the spring and early summer when the blades are preferred. This is the period of breeding, and hence maximum nutritional stress.