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|Title:||A study of digesta passage in rabbits and ringtail possums using markers and models|
|Authors:||Herron, Fiona Michelle|
|Keywords:||rabbits;common ringtail possums;digesta passage;digesta markers;git modelling;lanthanide metals;Winsaam|
|Publisher:||University of Sydney. Biology|
|Abstract:||The common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), a member of the family Pseudocheiridae, is an arboreal folivorous marsupial that feeds predominantly on Eucalyptus foliage. Contrary to the expectation that small body size would inhibit utilisation of a diet containing such high levels of lignified fibre because of relatively low gut volume to body mass ratios and relatively high mass-specific metabolic rates and nutrient requirements (Hume 1999), the ringtail possum is able to survive solely on a diet of Eucalyptus foliage. The rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a terrestrial herbivore and is a member of the family Leporidae that feeds predominantly on grasses. The rabbit was proposed as a digesta flow model for the ringtail possum since both are caecotrophic (periodically re-ingest caecal contents) and both are proposed to exhibit a colonic separation mechanism (CSM) where fluids and small, easily digested particles are preferentially returned to the caecum. The rabbit is of value for the modelling process since it is more accessible for experimental manipulation than the ringtail possum. This study investigated a proposal to use digesta passage through the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of the rabbit as a model of digesta passage for the ringtail possum on the basis that both are caecotrophic caecum fermenters. A number of potential problems were identified with this proposal and investigation of these problems formed the basis for the research described in this thesis. Two main areas were identified as being potentially problematic: 1) fundamental flaws with the particulate markers used in digesta rate of passage studies; and 2) differences in animal behaviour and natural diet between the two subject species which suggested different digestive strategies and hence different patterns of digesta flow through the GIT. The proposed digesta passage markers were lanthanide metals (Dy, Tm, Eu and Yb) attached to either fibrous particles (1200 - 600�m) or formalin-fixed rumen bacteria (20 � 0.2�m). These markers were shown to not be of the assumed size classes and the extent of lanthanide metal binding differed between the four metals used. An effect due to method of dosing was also observed. The findings of marker inconsistencies caused major limitation to model development and further research is necessary to clarify these markers. The proposal to use digesta flow in the rabbit GIT as a model for digesta flow in the ringtail possum was shown to be idealistic due to the differences in anatomy and behaviour observed between the two herbivores. Laboratory observations, time series analysis and compartmental modelling confirmed the differences between the animals. This study showed: 1) the GIT of the rabbit was more complex both anatomically and functionally than that of the ringtail possum; 2) behaviour affecting digesta passage of the rabbit and ringtail were different and; 3) compartmental models confirmed the anatomical and behavioural findings. Digesta passage in the rabbit could not be modelled mathematically using data on digesta passage due to complexities of the system. In contrast, a basic model was constructed for digesta passage in the ringtail possum. On the basis of these findings, the research hypothesis "that digesta passage in rabbits is similar to that in ringtail possums" was rejected.|
|Rights and Permissions:||Copyright Herron, Fiona Michelle;http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/copyright.html|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access)|
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