Flora & fauna of the gut

  1. I was reading a post on a bird forum earlier and someone mentioned that the chicks of gouldian finches benefit more with their parents than foster parents because they get the natural flora and fauna of the gut; however, another poster said that this wasn't as important in birds as they have a different system to animals. Anyway, pick that part to bits if you wish, but my actual query is: what is the flora and fauna of the gut?

    That question applies to humans, animals, birds... whatever. I suppose I could've easily looked it up, but I'm sure the posters on here will give a more thorough response.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. iansmith

    iansmith 1,430
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The flora and the fauna of an animal refers to the microorganisms that forms a symbiotic relationship with an animal. the flora will be different from species to species and from individual to individual. Some organism living in the gut are unique to given specie and can only be isolated from that specific specie.

    Cows have a very special flora/fauna that is very complex. The rument has predator fungi and protozoan that feed on the other microorganism. Also, without this flora cows and other ruminant would die because they cannot digest cellulose and the flora does it for them.

    You can also look at
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gut_flora
     
  4. DocToxyn

    DocToxyn 432
    Science Advisor

    The flora and fauna found in the gut generally aloows the host to more efficiently utilize food energy. It is usually a very important aspect of the digestive system in animals that are vegetarians, like the cow mentioned by iansmith. One might also say that it provides some means of resistance to harmful, invasive microbes, since the good bacteria are already established and therefore have a "homefield advantage" over the potential invasive species. There are different ways of establishing the gut flora, one common means is coprophagy, or consuming the fecal matter of an individual that already has an established system. Such practice would be a reason to keep a developing animal with it's parents.

    As far as birds, and specifically finches, I'm no expert, but I found the following link that describes the "sterile bowel" of more evolutionarily advanced species of birds. It's an interesting theory, but I couldn't find much else about it on the web therefore caveat emptor.

    sterile bowel
     
  5. Thanks both. Very interesting articles, too.
     
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