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Ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation has been increasing in temperate latitudes in recent decades and is expected to continue rising for some time. Enhanced UV-B radiation can change plant chemistry, yet the effects of these changes on mammalian herbivores are unknown. To examine the influence of enhanced UV-B radiation on nutrition of a specialist and generalist hindgut fermenter, we measured nutritional and chemical constituents of three common North American range plants, big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoregneria spicata), and how these changes influenced in vitro dry matter digestibility and in vivo digestibility by pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis)...
Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) comprises up to 99% of the winter and 50% of the summer diets of pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis). Few animals specialize on such plants as sagebrush, which contain high levels of plant chemicals that can be toxic. We investigated the nutritional requirements of pygmy rabbits and their ability and propensity to consume sagebrush alone and as part of a mixed diet. We compared diet choices of pygmy rabbits with that of a generalist forager, the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus). Pygmy rabbits had a moderately low nitrogen requirement (306.5 mg N/kg0.75/d), but a relatively high energy requirement, needing 750.8 kJ digestible energy/kg0.75/d to maintain their body mass...