Biodiv Sci ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (10): 1192-1201.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020063

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The winter diet of sambar (Rusa unicolor) in the Qionglai Mountains

Quanjian Zhang1,2, Biao Yang3, Qiang Fu4, Lei Wang4, Xu Gong1,2, Yuanbin Zhang1,*()   

  1. 1 Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3 Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resource Conservation, China West Normal University, Nanchong, Sichuan 637002
    4 Management Office of Anzihe Provincial Nature Reserve, Chongzhou, Sichuan 611230
  • Received:2020-02-27 Accepted:2020-05-09 Online:2020-10-20 Published:2020-10-20
  • Contact: Yuanbin Zhang


Rusa unicolor, a rare and endangered species, is listed as Class II National Key Protected Species. The study of its feeding habits in the food shortage season is very important for its protection. In this study, 18 valid fecal samples of R. unicolor in Anzihe protected area of the Qionglai Mountains in Sichuan were analyzed for its feeding plants by HTS (high-throughput sequencing). The results showed that: (1) The feeding plants of R. unicolor belonged to 50 families, 94 genera. (2) The preferred plant types of R. unicolor consisted of Rubus, Cornus, Helwingia, Strobilanthes, Viburnum, Sabia, Stachyurus, Smilax, Acer and Hydrangea. Among these, the Rubus (Rosaceae) is the predominant food source for R. unicolor. (3) Rusa unicolor feeds on diverse plants and has a wide food niche in winter. (4) Rusa unicolor has strong environmental adaptability and resource utilization ability, which feeds on more plant types and adjusts its niche appropriately in winter to adapt to the environmental changes. The results of this study will be helpful for the development of evidence-based management strategies for R. unicolor and its sympatric artiodactyls.

Key words: Rusa unicolor, relative read abundance, plant diversity index, niche, high-throughput sequencing, diet