Climatic influences on the behavioural ecology of Chanter's mountain reedbuck in Kenya
ROBERTS SC., DUNBAR RIM.
The effects of rainfall and temperature on the behavioural ecology of Chanler's mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula fulvorufula Rothschild) were examined on ranchland near Gilgil, Kenya. Ambient temperature was shown to be the proximate determinant of diurnal activity and rumination patterns. Mountain reedbuck were active during early morning and late afternoon, but rested and abandoned rumination when temperatures peaked at midday. There was close synchrony in levels of activity, rumination and use of cover and shade between males and females. Seasonal variations in time budgets were strongly influenced by rainfall patterns. Analyses revealed a one‐month lag between rainfall and both peak grass growth and a decrease in rumination frequency. The proportion of time allocated to feeding decreased one month later, and was coincident with an increase in the proportion of grass in the diet. Reedbuck may therefore be prevented from exploiting high‐quality new grass, possibly by gut‐fill or induced imbalances in rumen pH. It is suggested that the unexpectedly high levels of browse in the diet is an adaptive response to low rainfall during the preceding two months. Copyright © 1991, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved