Eleni T. Tsiobani, Maria D. Yiakoulaki and Georgios Menexes
Seasonal variability in grasslands’ vegetation affects animals’ diet selection. We studied the seasonal changes in water buffaloes’ diet during grazing in wet grasslands in Northern Greece. We recorded each month the plant species of the vegetation and the species consumed by buffaloes. We categorized the former into three functional groups (graminoids, legumes, and forbs) and the latter into five groups (graminoids, legumes, forbs, shrubs, and trees). There were significant differences in the proportions (%) of functional groups in the vegetation and in buffaloes’ diet between seasons (χ2 test, P<0.05). Graminoids, legumes, and forbs participated in buffaloes’ diet in all seasons, while the less preferred functional groups were trees and shrubs. Buffaloes consumed ten species in all seasons but we observed the most diverse diet, in terms of plant species, in spring. The most frequently consumed species in each functional group were Cynodon dactylon (graminoids), Trifolium repens (legumes), Cichorium intybus (forbs), Rubus sp. (shrubs), and Populus sp. (trees). However, the majority of plant species in buffaloes’ diet was in very low proportions (<1%), while buffaloes did not sample at all 38 herbaceous species. Researchers need to conduct further research to understand water buffaloes’ foraging strategy regarding plants’ anti-quality characteristics.
Eleni T. Tsiobani, Maria D. Yiakoulaki, Nikolaos D. Hasanagas, Georgios Menexes and Konstantinos Papanikolaou
The monthly variation of Greek water buffaloes’ grazing behaviour was investigated at the Lake Kerkini National Park in Greece. Direct observations were carried out on six female buffaloes for two consecutive days every month for a one-year period, and the time spent (in minutes) on their grazing-related activities (feeding, moving, wallowing, standing, ruminating, drinking, and lying) was recorded. Moreover, social and aggressive interactions and self-grooming were recorded as number of events. Also, the daily distance travelled by buffaloes was recorded with a handheld GPS. Buffaloes travelled on average 6.9 km/day, and they walked their longest distance in June (10.7 km/day) and their shortest in September (2.9 km/day). They spent more time (P<0.05) on feeding (309.2 min/day) compared to moving (121.7 min/day), wallowing (27.9 min/day), standing (20.2 min/day), ruminating (15.4 min/day), drinking (4.7 min/day) and lying (4.2 min/day). Greek water buffaloes seem to be sociable rather than aggressive animals as they devote to these activities on average 18.2 vs 0.5 events/day. We can conclude that the animals adjust their grazing behaviour to climatic conditions and the availability of forage resources.