Pollen Count as an Indicator to the Animal Diet Botanical Composition at a Selected Wet Season Grazing Site Eastern Nile Khartoum State (Sudan)

Abdelrahim Elbalola, Ibrahim Saeed

Abstract


This work aimed to identify the main plant species that compose the animal diet at the study site  by counting their pollen in animal feces. The site selected for this study was Wadi El Farish, Eastern Nile (Khartoum State). Fresh sheep, goats' and camels' feces samples were collected from the site at the mid rainy season, chemically treated with 10% KOH and acetolysed according to the Standard Acetolysis Method for Recent Pollen Grains [1]. Pollen grains were counted in a total of 10 slides of one drop sample each, mounted in glycerin, using the light microscope. Each pollen type was counted separately in transects throughout the sample. The Complete Randomized Design was employed to test the effect of plant species on number of pollen per drop sample and the mean numbers of pollen in animal feces were separated using the Duncan's Multiple Range Test. Results showed that grasses had the highest (P<0.05) mean numbers of pollen in goats' and camels' feces while, Indigofera had the highest (P<0.05) one in sheep feces. Acacia pollen showed the lowest (P<0.05) mean numbers of pollen in both goats' and camels' feces while, Tribulus had the lowest (P<0.05) one in sheep feces. It can be concluded that goats' and camels' diet is mainly made up of grasses, some forbs and a small amount of browse; sheep diet is made up of forbs, grasses and a small amount of browse. Contribution of grasses, forbs and browse to animal diet revealed by this study differs from that found by other workers.

This may indicate that animal diet botanical composition is influenced by the plant species composition of the particular site. Plant species not represented in feces by their pollen might be of varying contributions to animal diet. Hence, pollen count is better used as an indicator to key species or species much utilized by the animals rather than a basis for determining the animal diet botanical composition. Presence of pollen in feces means that the  plant has been eaten during the flowering time and before fruiting and seed dispersion. This, in turn, means that such species are endangered. Small amount of browse species pollen in animal feces indicates that browsers (camels and goats) are selective i.e. eat only leafy twigs of trees and shrubs.  


Keywords


pollen; grazing; animals; botanical; composition.

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