2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

Digestive Efficiency of a Generalist Predator, Pantherophis obsoletus, on Mice, Eggs, and Chicks
Amanda H. DeBrot
Dr. Chad Montgomery , Faculty Mentor

Optimal foraging theory (OFT) states that an organism should forage in a way to maximize energy intake per unit time, while minimizing energy expenditure and risk of injury. However, not all energy ingested is digested and absorbed across the intestinal wall. Digestive efficiency (DE) is the proportion of total ingested energy that is digested and absorbed, making DE an important factor when examining OFT. Black ratsnakes, Pantherophis obsoletus, are generalist predators that feed on a variety of prey, including birds, bird eggs, and small mammals. I wanted to determine the optimal prey type, based on energy content of the prey and the DE of the predator, for black ratsnakes. Therefore, I examined the effect of prey type (mice, quail eggs, and chicks), meal size, and snake body size on DE. Results indicate that quail eggs are the optimum prey.

Keywords: herpetology, digestive efficiency, snake

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 47-4
Location: MG 2001
Time: 2:00

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