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How is it linked?


and digestion

Some Alpine animals eat grass with many fibers (cellulose) and cannot digest it. Cellulose-degrading microorganisms, which live in their intestines, help them and so they can survive and don’t starve, such as the chamois (ruminants), the ibex or the ptarmigan (with its extra-long caecum).  

Picture: Neocallimastix is an anaerobic fungus that lives without oxygen in the intestines of ruminants. The special feature of the fungus: It can break down cellulose, the main structure of grass.
Neocallimastix ein Pilz aus dem Darm des Steinbocks, Copyright S. Leis
Fungus in the gut of chamois attaches to grass.

Symbiosis partners

of alpine animals

Some alpine animals eat lignocellulose– (fiber-) rich materials and harbor specific cellulose-decomposing microorganisms, such as anaerobic fungi (Neocallimastigomycota). This symbiosis is common in alpine ruminants like ibex and chamois, and in the ptarmigan with its extra-long intestines.


Institute of Microbiology (Insam), School of Education (Kapellari), Alpenzoo (Böhm)