Nutritional Physiology of Asian Elephants
While Asian Elephant nutrition has been studied overseas, no information is available for Australian conditions. Assumptions based on the physiology of other large herbivores are problematic because elephants, being much larger, may have different nutritional needs. This preliminary study indicated that these assumptions may not be appropriate in determining the best possible diet for our elephants.
Remote Determination of Free-Ranging Diets
Plants eaten by herbivorous species have a specific chemical signature. Even after digestion, the signature remains in the faecal samples of the species which eat them. Zoo-based populations of wildlife species can help determine these plant signatures by being fed known species and assessing the signatures in their faecal samples. This will help us develop the reference data needed to determine the diet of free-ranging animals from their faecal samples alone, and discover how diets change under different environmental conditions.