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Behavioural responses of a generalist mammalian folivore to the physiological constraints of a chemically defended diet

Citation

Wiggins, NL and McArthur, C and Davies, NW and McLean, SR, Behavioural responses of a generalist mammalian folivore to the physiological constraints of a chemically defended diet, Journal of Chemical Ecology, 32, (6) pp. 1133-1147. ISSN 0098-0331 (2006) [Refereed Article]

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The final publication is available at http://www.springerlink.com

Official URL: http://www.springerlink.com

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10886-006-9076-1

Abstract

Mammalian herbivores, particularly browsers and folivores, encounter and consume a range of plant chemical defenses [plant secondary metabolites (PSMs)] on a regular basis. The physiological regulation of PSM ingestion and the resulting behavioral responses of mammalian herbivores directly affect their feeding decisions and the subsequent foraging strategies that they adopt. Generalist mammalian herbivores are hypothesized to consume a generalized diet because of physiological limitations of their detoxification systems. The consumption of a generalized diet is proposed to enable toxin (PSM) dilution through the use of multiple detoxification pathways. We tested the predictions of the detoxification僕imitation hypothesis by offering two chemically different plant species, Eucalyptus regnans and E. globulus, to a generalist mammalian folivore, the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), as single- and mixed-species diets. By feeding more efficiently, brushtail possums benefited more, through increased intake, on the mixed-species diet than on either of the single-species diets. We argue that frequently switching between chemically diverse foliage reduces the physiological constraints imposed by a PSM-rich diet and enables more efficient feeding. The behavioral responses of brushtail possums were consistent with the proposed physiological constraints of a chemically defended diet, offering support for predictions of the detoxification僕imitation hypothesis. We suggest that feeding behavior of herbivores may be a useful indicator of the physiological constraints imposed by a chemically defended diet.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords: Brushtail possum - Detoxification limitations - Eucalypt - Feeding behavior - Herbivore - Plant secondary metabolite
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Zoology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Other Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Field:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products not elsewhere classified
Author:Wiggins, NL (Dr Natasha Wiggins)
Author:Davies, NW (Associate Professor Noel Davies)
Author:McLean, SR (Professor Stuart McLean)
ID Code:42996
Year Published:2006
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2006-08-01
Last Modified:2011-05-09
Downloads:0

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