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Methane emission by Camelids

Dittmann, M. T., Runge, U., Lang, R. A., Moser, D., Galeffi, C., Kreuzer, M. and Clauss, M. (2014) Methane emission by Camelids. PLoS ONE, 9 (4). e94363. ISSN 1932-6203

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094363

Abstract/Summary

Methane emissions from ruminant livestock have been intensively studied in order to reduce contribution to the greenhouse effect. Ruminants were found to produce more enteric methane than other mammalian herbivores. As camelids share some features of their digestive anatomy and physiology with ruminants, it has been proposed that they produce similar amounts of methane per unit of body mass. This is of special relevance for countrywide greenhouse gas budgets of countries that harbor large populations of camelids like Australia. However, hardly any quantitative methane emission measurements have been performed in camelids. In order to fill this gap, we carried out respiration chamber measurements with three camelid species (Vicugna pacos, Lama glama, Camelus bactrianus; n = 16 in total), all kept on a diet consisting of food produced from alfalfa only. The camelids produced less methane expressed on the basis of body mass (0.3260.11 L kg21 d21) when compared to literature data on domestic ruminants fed on roughage diets (0.5860.16 L kg21 d21). However, there was no significant difference between the two suborders when methane emission was expressed on the basis of digestible neutral detergent fiber intake (92.7633.9 L kg21 in camelids vs. 86.2612.1 L kg21 in ruminants). This implies that the pathways of methanogenesis forming part of the microbial digestion of fiber in the foregut are similar between the groups, and that the lower methane emission of camelids can be explained by their generally lower relative food intake. Our results suggest that the methane emission of Australia’s feral camels corresponds only to 1 to 2% of the methane amount produced by the countries’ domestic ruminants and that calculations of greenhouse gas budgets of countries with large camelid populations based on equations developed for ruminants are generally overestimating the actual levels.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:No
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Food Production and Quality Division > Animal, Dairy and Food Chain Sciences (ADFCS)
ID Code:65975
Publisher:Public Library of Science

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