1 October 2001 Protein Requirements of a Specialized Frugivore, Pesquet's Parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus)
Gregory S. Pryor, Douglas J. Levey, Ellen S. Dierenfeld
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For those few bird species that are exclusively frugivorous, the low protein content of fruits is likely a major nutritional constraint. Physiological mechanisms that allow strict frugivory remain enigmatic, but reduced protein requirements may suffice. We investigated protein requirements of Pesquet's Parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus), a highly specialized, obligate frugivore. Three isocaloric, fruit-based diets of varying protein content (6.1, 3.3, and 2.6% dry mass crude protein) were used in feeding trials lasting three to five days per diet. A minimum dietary protein requirement of 3.2% dry mass was estimated from balance trials. Endogenous nitrogen losses were 0.05 gN kg−0.75 day−1 and nitrogen equilibrium occurred at 0.32 gN kg−0.75 day−1. Those values are extremely low compared to those of granivorous and omnivorous bird species, but higher than those of nectarivorous species. In terms of nitrogen losses and requirements, Pesquet's Parrot most closely parallels the highly frugivorous Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum). Thus, reduced protein requirements appear to play an important physiological role in ability of highly frugivorous birds to subsist on fruit diets.

Gregory S. Pryor, Douglas J. Levey, and Ellen S. Dierenfeld "Protein Requirements of a Specialized Frugivore, Pesquet's Parrot (Psittrichas fulgidus)," The Auk 118(4), 1080-1088, (1 October 2001). https://doi.org/10.1642/0004-8038(2001)118[1080:PROASF]2.0.CO;2
Received: 29 December 1999; Accepted: 30 April 2001; Published: 1 October 2001
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