Assessing seasonal diets of waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) in central Texas
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I investigated the seasonal diets of waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) located on the Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area from June 2016 to March 2017. I used microhistology and DNA analysis techniques on freshly collected fecal material (n = 80, 20 per season). To determine if waterbuck were selectivity feeding, I conducted vegetation surveys simultaneously with fecal sample collection. I used the Daubenmire method to quantify available herbaceous vegetation and the line- intercept method to quantify available woody vegetation. I used microhistological analysis to quantify 47 unique plant species in the diet of waterbuck. Important species included Texas wintergrass (Nassella leucotricha), green sprangletop (Leptochloa dubia), eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides), Canada wildrye (Elymus canadensis), American barnyardgrass (Echinochloa muricata), yellow indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), vine mesquite (Panicum obtusum), and Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense). DNA analysis targeted the c to h region of the chloroplast trnL (UAA) intron. No samples were successfully amplified and sequenced. The bulk of the diet consisted of grasses, most of which occurred in wetlands. Resource competition between waterbuck and upland grazers such as gemsbok, sable antelope, and scimitar-horned oryx appears to be minimal. However, competition needs to be considered when stocking waterbuck with cattle or other grazers that regularly utilize riparian species.