When digesting ruminants exhale methane. Their contribution to this global greenhouse gas is considerable. So far the assumption had been that camels with similar digestion produce the same amount of the climate-damaging gas. However, researchers at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich have now shown camels release less methane than ruminants.
Ruminant cows and sheep account for a major proportion of the methane produced around the world. Currently around 20 percent of global methane emissions stem from ruminants.
In the atmosphere methane contributes to the greenhouse effect – that’s why researchers are looking for ways of reducing methane production by ruminants.
Comparatively little is known about the methane production of other animal species – but one thing seems to be clear: Ruminants produce more of the gas per amount of converted feed than other herbivores.
The only other animal group that regularly “ruminates” like ruminants are camels. This includes alpacas, llamas, dromedaries and Bactrian camels. They, too, have multi-chambered forestomachs. They, too, regurgitate food from the forestomach in order to reduce it in size through renewed chewing.
That’s why people assumed up to now that camels produce a similar amount of methane to ruminants. Researchers at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich have now examined this assumption in a project sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation and have come to the following conclusion: in absolute terms camels release less methane than cows and sheep of comparable body size.
However, if one compares methane production with the amount of converted feed, then it is the same in both groups. “To calculate the proportion of methane produced, different estimated values should be used for camels than those used for ruminants”, explains Marcus Clauss from the Vetsuisse Faculty of the University of Zurich.
Lower metabolism – less feed – less methane
The modified calculation of the “methane budget” may be important for those countries with lots of camels – like the dromedaries in the Middle East and in Australia, or the alpacas and llamas in various South American countries. In cooperation with Zurich Zoo and private camel keepers, scientists from the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich have measured methane production in three types of camelids.
“The results show us that camels have a lower metabolism. Hence, they need less feed and release less methane than our domestic ruminants”, says the vet Marcus Clauss. The lower metabolism of camels could explain why they thrive particularly in areas with a shortage of food – desert and barren mountain regions.
Marie T. Dittmann, Ullrich Runge, Richard A. Lang, Dario Moser, Cordula Galeffi, Michael Kreuzer, Marcus Clauss. Methane emission by camelids. PLOS ONE. April 9, 2014. doi:http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094363
Prof. Dr. Marcus Clauss
Department for Small Animals
University of Zurich
Tel. +41 44 635 83 76
Nathalie Huber | Universität Zürich
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy