Formosan Reeve’s muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi micrurus) is widely distributed in Taiwan, but
its food selection mechanisms in the wild are still unclear. In this study, the herbivory preferences
of Formosan Reeve’s muntjac to 35 native tree species’ leaves were tested at the Fushan Experimental
Forest, northeastern Taiwan. In addition, leaf nutrient contents were analyzed to examine
their associations with muntjac herbivory preferences.
Wild muntjacs at Fushan preferred the leaves with high non-fibrous carbohydrate (NFC)
content and avoided of the ones with high neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content, and particularly
those with high lignin content. However, tree leaves of Symplocos theophrastifolia and Blastus
cochinchinensis, which contained high NFC and low lignin contents, were also avoided by muntjacs.
We also found that tree leaves of 5 Fagaceae species and 6 of 8 Lauraceae species were avoided
by muntjacs, suggesting that muntjacs might dislike tree leaves with coriaceous texture (e.g.,
Fagaceae) or with strong volatile essences (e.g., Lauraceae). Therefore, in addition to leaf nutrient
contents, leaf physical traits as well as chemical composition like minerals, odorant substances,
and phytotoxins, may also affect the herbivory preference of muntjacs.