Physiological responses of Yellowstone bison to winter nutritional deprivation

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Because nutrition is critically related to other aspects of bison (Bison bison) ecology, and the winter ranges inhabited by bison in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) are ecologically diverse, it was important to determine if nutritional deprivation differences occurred among winter ranges. We used chemistry profiles of urine suspended in snow to compare nutritional deprivation of bison from January to April 1988 on 4 sampling areas of 3 winter ranges in YNP. Declining (P < 0.001) trends of urinary potassium: creatinine ratios in bison on all 4 sampling areas indicated progressive nutritional deprivation through late March. Concurrent increases (P ≤ 0.001) in mean urea nitrogen: creatinine ratios from late February through late march in 3 of 4 areas suggested that increased net catabolism was occurring. Diminished creatinine ratios of sodium and phosphorus reflected low dietary intake of these minerals throughout winter. Mean values and trends of urinary characteristics indicated nutritional deprivation varied among 3 winter ranges in YNP. Continued physiological monitoring of nutritional deprivation, along with detailed examination of other aspects of the bison's ecology, will provide greater insight into the role of ungulate nutrition in the dynamics of such a complex system and improve management.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Physiological responses of Yellowstone bison to winter nutritional deprivation
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.2307/3809545
Volume 58
Issue 1
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description 11 p.
First page 24
Last page 34