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The chemical components in plant cuticular wax can be used as markers to estimate the species composition of the diet of grazing animals. In this experiment, composition of the diet of yak on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau was estimated using n-alkane analysis. During the grazing period, samples of whole plants of the species present, plus fecal samples voided by the yak, were collected, air-dried and ground prior to the extraction of cuticular wax n-alkanes. The species composition of the yak diets was estimated by relating fecal alkane contents to those of the plant species, using the ‘EATWHAT’ software package. The results showed that the n-alkane technique can detect the main dietary components selected by yak. The diet consumed by yak contained 33% Kobresia humilis, 67% Stipa aliena in summer pasture; 26% Potentilla anserine, 74% Carex qinghaiensis in autumn pasture; 52% Carex qinghaiensis, 32% Heteropappus bowerii and 16% Saussurea semifasciata in winter pasture and 5% Carex qinghaiensis, 95% Achnatherum splendens in spring pasture. The apparent selection for forbs is likely to be a reason for nutritional constraint of yak inhabiting alpine environments.