Project F1: Habitat Partitioning and Vegetation Use
|Titel||Biomass yield, trophic specialization, and habitat partitioning in sauropods: evidence from paleobotany, in-vitro fermentation, and cropping trials|
|Leiterin||Dr. Carole Gee|
The exciting research results on sauropod food ecology generated in the first and second funding periods of Research Unit 533 have opened new questions on the feeding efficiency of specific habitats for the sauropods, which may have led to the specialization of sauropod taxa on certain plant groups by or to habitat partitioning among sauropods in the mid-Mesozoic. To help answer these questions, additional in-vitro fermentation experiments are proposed here that will focus on the digestibility of Araucaria and Equisetum -
both of which are thought to have been accessible, efficient, and preferred sources of food for the sauropods - as well as that of water plants, which may have been important food sources for sauropods in coastal environments. Empirical measurements of biomass yield, based on the intake volume of a sauropod's mouthful, will be made using cropping trials on the nearest living relatives of the Mesozoic flora. Using these data, the analysis of feeding efficiency in specific habitats (e.g., an Equisetum marsh, an open meadow of ferns, an Araucaria forest, a mixed forest of Araucaria and other conifers, and a mixed ecosystem of ferns, cycads, ginkgoes, and conifers) can be undertaken. The continued study of cuticle and wood from a sauropod bonebed (the Howe-Stephens Quarry) in the Morrison Formation at the Howe-Stephens Quarry will add to the species diversity of plants in this Late Jurassic sauropod ecosystem.