ANIMAL POO STUDY TO AID FARMERS
The scientists will examine the faeces of cattle, pigs, deer and more unusual types of animal like the capybara, the world's largest rodent. The database has been designed to help farmers in Brazil manage their land in a more sustainable and efficient way. The project aims to lessen the impact of intensive cattle grazing on the Pantanal region in Brazil. The researchers said that by evaluating the botanical composition of faeces from wild and domestic herbivores, they are able to identify the preferred plant grazing materials, foraging strategies and nutritional requirements of the animals. This information is then used to recommend and help landowners adopt land management strategies that will benefit both cattle and wildlife, as well as improve their profitability.
Speaking on a visit to Edinburgh to share the latest findings with his colleagues, Dr Arnaud Desbiez, researcher for the Royal Zoological Society's Pantanal Conservation Initiative, based in Brazil, said: "The Pantanal region is a unique ecosystem with areas of forest, wetland and savannah and is recognised by several international conservation protection designations. "Ninety-five percent of the area is owned by private landowners and we must work with them in order to safeguard this amazing place. "Until recently, it was a pristine environment benefiting from large scale ranches, low human density and little active management. "But now as intensive farming practices overtake traditional methods, this ecosystem is increasingly threatened. "The Pantanal Conservation Initiative Project, a critical part of which is analyzing and identifying plants deposited within faecal matter, has helped us to provide practical tools to farmers to choose better ways to manage and use the land".
As the world's largest wetland of any kind, the Pantanal is regularly flooded and is characterized by an astonishing diversity of wildlife, with thousands of fascinating species present, many of which are endangered. More than 200 plant species have now been identified, photographed and characterised as part of the research.
Fonte: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/8639 283.stm (acessado e adaptado em 22/04/10)
Segundo os pesquisadores, através da avaliação da composição botânica das fezes dos herbívoros domésticos e selvagens, será possível identificar:
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