- Title Pages
- Organisms and Environments
- Part one Relationships, Relationships
- Chapter 1 Bull to Bull and Cow to Bull
- Chapter 2 Cow to Cow
- Chapter 3 Cow to Calf
- Part Two The Machinery of a Bison’s Life
- Chapter 4 Bison Athletics
- Chapter 5 Digestion
- Chapter 6 Temperature Control
- Part Three Whence they Came Forth, and how Much they Multiplied
- Chapter 7 Ancestors and Relatives
- Chapter 8 How Many?
- Part Four The Bison’s Neighborhood
- Chapter 9 The Central Grassland
- PART FIVE The Bison’s Neighbors
- Chapter 10 Wolves and Bison
- Chapter 11 Buffalo Birds
- Chapter 12 Diseases and Parasites
- Chapter 13 Pronghorn
- Chapter 14 Prairie Dogs
- Chapter 15 Badgers
- Chapter 16 Coyotes
- Chapter 17 Grizzlies
- Chapter 18 Ferrets
- Part Six Human and Buffalo
- Chapter 19 Close Encounters of the Buffalo Kind
- Chapter 20 To Kill a Bison
- Chapter 21 Bison Numbers before the Great Slaughter
- Chapter 22 Where have all the Bison Gone?
- Chapter 23 Attitudes
- Chapter 24 Conservation
- Chapter 25 A Great Plains Park
Grass to Gas and Chips
- (p.47) Chapter 5 Digestion
- American Bison
Dale F. Lott
- University of California Press
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.
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