The role of feeding specialization on post-prandial metabolic rate in snakes of the genus Bothrops

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Feeding specialization is a recurrent issue in the evolution of snakes and is sometimes associated to morphological and/or behavioral adaptations that improve snake performance to exploit a particular food type. Despite its importance for animal fitness, the role of physiological traits has been much less studied than morphological and behavioral traits in the evolution of feeding specialization in snakes. In this context, the energetic cost of post-prandial period is an important physiological factor due to the remarkable effect on the snake energy budget. We collected data on post-prandial metabolic rate (SDA) in five species of pit vipers from the genus Bothrops with different degrees of mammal feeding specialization to test the hypothesis that feeding specialist species have lower energy costs during the digestion of their regular food item when compared to species with a more generalist diet. Our results support this hypothesis and suggest that ontogenetic changes in diet can be accompanied by changes in energy cost of the digestion process.
Stuginski DR, Navas CA, de Barros FC, Grego KF, Martins M, de Carvalho JE. The role of feeding specialization on post-prandial metabolic rate in snakes of the genus Bothrops. Zool. Sci.. 2018 Aug;35(4):373-81. doi:10.2108/zs170058.
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