Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Access
  • Cited by 5
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Holeski, Liza M. McKenzie, Sean C. Kruger, Eric L. Couture, John J. Rubert-Nason, Kennedy Lindroth, Richard L. and Heard, Matthew 2016. Phytochemical traits underlie genotypic variation in susceptibility of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) to browsing by a keystone forest ungulate. Journal of Ecology, Vol. 104, Issue. 3, p. 850.

    Wam, Hilde Karine Histøl, Trond Nybakken, Line Solberg, Erling Johan and Hjeljord, Olav 2016. Transient nutritional peak in browse foliage after forest clearing advocates cohort management of ungulates. Basic and Applied Ecology, Vol. 17, Issue. 3, p. 252.

    Slabach, B.L. Corey, T.B. Aprille, J.R. Starks, P.T. and Dane, B. 2015. Geophagic behavior in the mountain goat (Oreamnosamericanus): support for meeting metabolic demands. Canadian Journal of Zoology, Vol. 93, Issue. 8, p. 599.

    Meier, Janina Sarah Kreuzer, Michael and Marquardt, Svenja 2012. Design and methodology of choice feeding experiments with ruminant livestock. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol. 140, Issue. 3-4, p. 105.

    Ceacero, Francisco Landete-Castillejos, Tomás García, Andrés J. Estévez, José A. and Gallego, Laureano 2010. Physiological variables explain mineral intake in Iberian red deer. Physiology & Behavior, Vol. 100, Issue. 2, p. 122.


Can Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) discriminate among essential minerals in their diet?

  • Francisco Ceacero (a1) (a2) (a3), Tomás Landete-Castillejos (a1) (a2) (a3), Andrés J. García (a1) (a2) (a3), José A. Estévez (a1) (a2) (a3) (a4) and Laureano Gallego (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 28 October 2009

Optimal foraging predicts that animals should be able to assess the content of important nutrients in food. Ungulates discriminate salt and P, but discrimination of other minerals is controversial even though they are also essential and often limiting. Animal scientists have explained this taste through palatability, which predicts the same pattern of discrimination for calves and hinds and greater consumption by the latter. Social learning may also be involved, predicting a correlation between mother and calf and less consumption by the latter. The present study examines the consumption behaviour of free-choice supplemented minerals by hinds and calves of Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) to discern between these hypotheses. Behavioural indices of intake correlated with actual mineral consumption (P < 0·001). Mother and calf behavioural indices correlated only for salt-mixed minerals. Calves showed overall behavioural indices of consumption greater than hinds (P < 0·01 and P < 0·001), and also for all single supplements except NaCl, as expected from growth needs and in contrast to the palatability hypothesis. Calves showed a greater consumption of CuSO4 and lower of Na2SeO3 than pure salt. Hinds showed a different pattern, ingesting lower amounts of all minerals except CuSO4 and salt. Additional analyses also showed discrimination between minerals unmixed with salt, such as CaHPO4 and CaCO3 (P = 0·012 and P = 0·020). The greater intake of growing calves and the different consumption patterns for hinds and calves suggest that deer can discriminate among minerals, and that they do not consume minerals for their palatability or driven by social learning. Therefore, deer may be selecting minerals according to nutritional requirements.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Can Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) discriminate among essential minerals in their diet?
      Your Kindle email address
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Can Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) discriminate among essential minerals in their diet?
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Can Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) discriminate among essential minerals in their diet?
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr Francisco Ceacero, fax +34 967 599233, email
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1JM Emlen (1966) The role of time and energy in food preferences. Am Nat 100, 611617.

2RH McArthur & E Pianka (1966) On optimal use of a patchy environment. Am Nat 100, 603609.

4JF Wilmshurst , JM Fryxell & RJ Hudson (1995) Forage quality and patch choice by wapiti (Cervus elaphus). Behav Ecol 6, 209217.

5JF Wilmshurst , JM Fryxell & PE Colucci (1999) What constrains daily intake in Thomson's gazelles? Ecology 80, 23382347.

6A Hessle , M Rutter & K Wallin (2008) Effect of breed, season and pasture moisture gradient on foraging behaviour in cattle on semi-natural grasslands. Appl Anim Behav Sci 111, 108119.

7N Owen-Smith & P Novellie (1982) What should a clever ungulate eat? Am Nat 119, 151178.

8K Ackroff (1992) Foraging for macronutrients: effects of protein availability and abundance. Physiol Behav 51, 533542.

9M Westoby (1974) An analysis of diet selection by large generalist herbivores. Am Nat 108, 290304.

12GE Belovsky (1978) Diet optimization in a generalist herbivore: the moose. Theor Popul Biol 14, 105134.

13DB Botkin , PA Jordan , AS Dominsky , (1973) Sodium dynamics in a northern ecosystem. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 70, 27452748.

14EC Hellgren & WJ Pitts (1997) Sodium economy in white-tailed deer (Odoicoleus virginianus). Physiol Zool 70, 547555.

15LR McDowell (1996) Feeding minerals to cattle on pasture. Anim Feed Sci Technol 60, 247271.

16LR McDowell (2003) Minerals in Animal and Human Nutrition. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

17SJ McNaughton (1988) Mineral nutrition and spatial concentrations of African ungulates. Nature 334, 343345.

18SJ McNaughton (1990) Mineral nutrition and seasonal movements of African migratory ungulates. Nature 345, 613615.

20BF Tracy & SJ McNaughton (1995) Elemental analysis of mineral lick soils from the Serengeti National Park, the Konza Prairie and Yellowstone National Park. Ecography 18, 9194.

21TC Atwood & HP Weeks (2002) Sex- and age-specific patterns of mineral lick use by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Am Midl Nat 148, 289296.

23R Ben-Shahar & MJ Coe (1992) The relationship between soil factors, grass nutrients and the foraging behaviour of wildebeest and zebra. Oecologia 90, 422428.

26F Ceacero , T Landete-Castillejos , AJ García , (2009) Free-choice mineral consumption in Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) response to diet deficiencies. Livest Sci 122, 345348.

27JJ Villalba , FD Provenza & JO Hall (2008) Learned appetites for calcium, phosphorus, and sodium in sheep. J Anim Sci 86, 738747.

29FD Provenza (1995) Postingestive feedback as an elementary determinant of food preference and intake in ruminants. J Range Manage 48, 217.

30LR McDowell (1985) Nutrition of Grazing Ruminants in Warm Climates. New York: Academic Press.

31LD Muller , LV Schaffer , LC Ham , (1977) Cafeteria-style free-choice mineral feeder for lactating dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 60, 15741582.

32RM Tait & LJ Fisher (1996) Variability in individual animal's intake of minerals offered free-choice to grazing ruminants. Anim Feed Sci Technol 62, 6976.

33AJ Duncan & SA Young (2002) Can goats learn about foods through conditioned food aversions and preferences when multiple food options are simultaneously available? J Anim Sci 80, 20912098.

35A Sclafani (1991) Conditioned food preferences. B Psychonomic Soc 29, 256260.

36FD Provenza , EA Burritt , TP Clausen , (1990) Conditioned flavour aversion: a mechanism for goats to avoid condensed tannins in blackbrush. Am Nat 136, 810828.

37DAWAM Jansen , F van Langevelde , WF de Boer , (2007) Optimisation or satiation, testing diet selection rules in goats. Small Rumin Res 73, 160168.

39I Kyriazakis , TG Papachristou , AJ Duncan , (1997) Mild conditioned food aversions developed by sheep towards flavours associated with plant secondary compounds. J Chem Ecol 23, 727746.

41JJ Villalba & FD Provenza (1997) Preference for flavored wheat straw by lambs conditioned with intraruminal infusions of acetate and propionate. J Anim Sci 75, 29052914.

42C Ginane , AJ Duncan , SA Young , (2005) Herbivore diet selection in response to simulated variation in nutrient rewards and plant secondary compounds. Anim Behav 69, 541550.

43A Sclafani (1997) Learned controls of ingestive behaviour. Appetite 29, 153158.

44AJ Duncan , C Elwert , JJ Villalba , (2007) How does pattern of feeding and rate of nutrient delivery influence conditioned food preferences? Oecologia 153, 617624.

45SE van Wieren (1996) Do large herbivores select a diet that maximizes short-term energy intake rate? Forest Ecol Manage 88, 149156.

46J Yearsley , JJ Villalba , IJ Gordon , (2006) A theory of associating food types with their post-ingestive effects. Am Nat 167, 705716.

47AJ Duncan , C Ginane , DA Elston , (2006) How do herbivores trade-off the positive and negative consequences of diet selection decisions? Anim Behav 71, 9399.

50UA Bergvall (2009) Development of feeding selectivity and consistency in food choice over 5 years in fallow deer. Behav Process 80, 140146.

53KL Ingvartsen (1994) Models of voluntary food intake in cattle. Livest Prod Sci 39, 1938.

55LS Lieberman (2006) Evolutionary and anthropological perspectives on optimal foraging in obesogenic environments. Appetite 47, 39.

56A Thornton & NJ Raihani (2008) The evolution of teaching. Anim Behav 75, 18231836.

57T Landete-Castillejos , AJ García , JJ Garde , (2000) Milk intake and production curves and allosuckling in captive Iberian red deer, Cervus elaphus hispanicus. Anim Behav 60, 679687.

62L Gallego , T Landete-Castillejos , AJ García , (2006) Seasonal and lactational changes in mineral composition of milk from Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus). J Dairy Sci 89, 589595.

63T Landete-Castillejos , AJ García , P Molina , (2000) Milk production and composition in captive Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus): effect of birth date. J Anim Sci 78, 27712777.

65TC Atwood & HP Weeks (2003) Sex-specific patterns of mineral lick preference in white-tailed deer. Northeast Nat 10, 409414.

67ML Bartoskewitz , DG Hewitt , JC Laurenz , (2007) Effect of dietary copper and zinc concentrations on white-tailed deer antler growth, body size, and immune system function. Small Ruminant Res 73, 8794.

68D Carrión , AJ García , E Gaspar-López , (2008) Development of body condition in hinds of Iberian red deer during gestation and its effects on calf birth weight and milk production. J Exp Zool 309A 110.

69EM Epke & HT Lawless (2007) Retronasal smell and detection thresholds of iron and copper salts. Physiol Behav 92, 487491.

70DH Pletscher (1987) Nutrient budgets for white-tailed deer in New England with special reference to sodium. J Mammal 68, 330336.

71G Chládek & D Zapletal (2007) A free-choice intake of mineral blocks in beef cows during the grazing season and in winter. Livest Sci 106, 4146.

72L Gallego , JA Gomez , T Landete-Castillejos , (2009) Effect of milk minerals on calf gains and sex differences in mineral composition of milk from Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus). Reproduction (epublication ahead of print version 5 August 2009).

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *