Despite the potential for diet to affect organismal acid-base status, especially in herbivores, little is known about the effects of diet on acid-base loading and excretion. We tested the effects of diet on acid-base loading and excretion in grasshoppers by (a) comparing the fecal acid-base content of 15 grasshopper species collected from the field and (b) comparing fecal acid-base excretion rates of Schistocerca americana grasshoppers fed vegetable diets that differed in their ashed and raw acid-base contents. The field experiments indicated that grass-feeding species excrete fairly neutral fecal pellets, while forb/mixed-feeding species vary widely in their fecal acid-base contents. In the laboratory experiment, acid-base excretion rates were positively correlated with dietary ashed base intake rates but were not correlated with the acid-base content of raw, unashed diet or feeding rate. These experiments suggest that some diets could strongly challenge the acid-base homeostasis of herbivores; in some grasshoppers, dietary acid-base loads could produce certainly lethal 1-unit changes in average body pH within 6 h if they were not excreted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology