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American BisonA Natural History$
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Dale Lott, Jan van Wagtendonk, and Kevin Shaffer

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233386

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233386.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 21 October 2019

Digestion

Digestion

Grass to Gas and Chips

Chapter:
(p.47) Chapter 5 Digestion
Source:
American Bison
Author(s):

Dale F. Lott

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520233386.003.0005

A grassland's plants combine the energy from the sun with water and nutrients from the soil to grow and reproduce. These plants produce the stuff of life and growth for grass eaters. There are carbohydrates for energy and protein for growth and repairing body parts. Digesting anything is a strictly chemical matter of subjecting it to an enzyme that breaks certain molecular bonds. Bison don't secrete an enzyme that digests cellulose either, but they enlist colonies of bacteria. The front part of their stomach is segmented off by a fold (the rumen) in which newly swallowed food is kept for a while. It serves as a place where some very helpful bacteria put their enzymes to work digesting the cellulose. The ruminants have enlisted a powerful ally in their arms race with grass.

Keywords:   digestion, grassland, cellulose, bacteria, ruminants, rumen, bison, grass

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