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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #373087

Research Project: Science and Technologies for the Sustainable Management of Western Rangeland Systems

Location: Range Management Research

Title: fDNA-based diet selection by Raramuri Criollo and Angus crossbreeds in the Chihuahuan Desert

item James, Darren
item Estell, Richard - Rick
item CIBILS, ANDRES - New Mexico State University
item Spiegal, Sheri
item NYAMURYEKUNG'E, SHELEMIA - New Mexico State University
item MCINTOSH, MATTHEW - New Mexico State University
item Gonzalez, Alfredo
item Romig, Kirsten

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2019
Publication Date: 2/16/2020
Citation: James, D.K., Estell, R.E., Cibils, A., Spiegal, S.A., Nyamuryekung'E, S., McIntosh, M., Gonzalez, A.L., Romig, K.B. 2020. fDNA-based diet selection by Raramuri Criollo and Angus crossbreeds in the Chihuahuan Desert [abstract]. Society for Range Management Meeting, February 16-20, 2020, Denver, Colorado. Session 8.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: A 3-year diet study was conducted in two pastures on the Jornada Experimental Range in the northern Chihuahuan Desert, Dona Ana County, New Mexico, USA to compare diets of Raramuri Criollo and Angus x Hereford crossbreed cattle. Fecal samples were collected directly from cattle and analyzed with both Operational Taxonimic Units (OTUs) and Exact Sequence Variants (ESVs). ESVs performed better than OTUs at discriminating between plant taxa. Although patterns of plant preference between the two breeds were not necessarily constant over time, Criollo diets were were found to have proportionally more Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) and proportionally less Black grama (Bouteloua eripoda) than Angus x Hereford crossbreeds. In general, both breeds consumed proportionally more grass in the winter than in the summer. However, the grass component for both breeds decreased over time, likely due to persistent drought which caused less grass production and availability. Both breeds behaved the same way by replacing the grass component with forbs in the summer and with shrubs in the winter. This study is an example of how fecal DNA analyses can illustrate how livestock alter their diets to cope with drought.