Being obligate herbivores, Bovidae eat a wide variety of plant types, and so members of this family are found in a wide range of habitats where they can find sufficient food. Each species tends to favor specific habitats or, more often, mixes of habitats, with some species being more adaptable than others. In many ecosystems, these bovids are the primary prey of large carnivores and thus are key components of many animal communities.

Members of the Bovidae are found in almost all major terrestrial ecosystems and habitat types. Depending on species, they can be found in open habitats such as deserts, grasslands, savanna, steppe, alpine and arctic tundra, as well as dense habitats such as swamps, riparian forests (i.e., forest near rivers and streams), shrublands, forested parklands, and tropical forests. However, bovids are probably most numerous and diverse in subtropical and tropical savannas and grasslands. Although different species specialize on particular habitats, as a family, Bovidae occupy habitats from low-elevation valley floors to mountain tops.

Some species prefer open habitats, others prefer forests, and still others occupy both. Typical open-habitat dwellers include species such as American bison, saiga, wildebeest, and various antelopes and gazelles. Shrublands are home to species like lesser kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis) and nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus). Swamps and floodplains are favored by Asian water buffalo and anoas, as well as African species like the Nile lechwe and sitatunga. Gemsbok occupies deserts and other arid regions, as do Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia). In tropical forests, there is a range of bovids from the various large cattle such as gaur and banteng in southern Asia, to smaller species such as the newly discovered saola or Vu Quang ox (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) of Southeast Asia, and the bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus) of Africa. Familiar species found in mountains and other high-elevation habitats include the yak of the Himalaya mountains and Tibetan Plateau, the wild mountain sheep (Ovis), whose members are found throughout the mountains of Eurasia and North America, and the wild goats and related ibex (Capra).

The birthing season is a time when females of many species seek out specific habitats that provide them greater security for giving birth and for protecting the newborn young. Depending on species, such secure habitats for parturition can range from dense brush to steep cliffs. The mating season, or rut, in some species of Bovidae, also occurs in particular ar eas, but it is uncertain whether this is due to some special attribute of the habitat, or simply reflects where they happen to be at that time.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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