Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Camels emit less methane than cows or sheep

Date:
April 10, 2014
Source:
University of Zurich
Summary:
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 have now shown camels release less methane than ruminants.

Camel eating hay. Camels ruminate, they regurgitate food from the forestomach in order to reduce it in size through renewed chewing.
Credit: Copyright Michele Hogan

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marie T. Dittmann, Ullrich Runge, Richard A. Lang, Dario Moser, Cordula Galeffi, Michael Kreuzer, Marcus Clauss. Methane Emission by Camelids. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (4): e94363 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094363

Cite This Page:

University of Zurich. "Camels emit less methane than cows or sheep." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410083343.htm>.
University of Zurich. (2014, April 10). Camels emit less methane than cows or sheep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410083343.htm
University of Zurich. "Camels emit less methane than cows or sheep." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140410083343.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins