Knowledge on diet selection of different herbivore species under each specific vegetation community is essential to develop and apply appropriate management decisions for each grazing system in order to, simultaneously, have a more efficient and sustainable utilization of pasture resources and the best animal performance level. In this chapter, traditional and more recent methodologies that can be used for studying diet selection of both domestic and wild herbivores are briefly presented, identifying the main advantages and limitations of their use. Particular emphasis is given to the utilization of epicuticular compounds, namely alkanes, long-chain fatty acids and long-chain alcohols, as faecal markers. The validation of their use is presented taking into account studies performed with different animal species under controlled conditions. The main advantages and shortcomings for their application to field studies with grazing animals are highlighted. Data indicate that the combination of these epicuticular compounds seems promising to overcome the enumerated constraints, allowing its application to more complex vegetation communities.
Part of the book: Herbivores