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Inter-population differences in the tolerance of a marsupial folivore to plant secondary metabolites


DeGabriel, JL and Moore, BD and Shipley, LA and Krockenberger, AK and Wallis, IR and Johnson, CN and Foley, WJ, Inter-population differences in the tolerance of a marsupial folivore to plant secondary metabolites, Oecologia, 161, (3) pp. 539-548. ISSN 0029-8549 (2009) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Springer-Verlag 2009

DOI: doi:10.1007/s00442-009-1407-9


Plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) strongly inXuence diet selection by mammalian herbivores. Concen- trations of PSMs vary within and among plant species, and across landscapes. Therefore, local adaptations may cause diVerent populations of herbivores to diVer in their ability to tolerate PSMs. Here, we tested the food intake responses of three populations of a marsupial folivore, the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula Kerr), from diVer- ent latitudes and habitat types, to four types of PSMs. We found clear variation in the responses of northern and southern Australian possums to PSMs. Brushtail possums from southern Australia showed marked decreases in food intake in response to all four PSMs, while the two popula- tions from northern Australia were not as sensitive and their responses did not diVer from one another. These results were unexpected, based on our understanding of the experi- ences of these populations with PSMs in the wild. Our results suggest that geographically separated populations of possums may have evolved diVering abilities to cope with PSMs, as a result of local adaptation to their natural envi- ronments. Our results provide the basis for future studies to investigate the mechanisms by which populations of mam- malian species diVer in their ability to tolerate PSMs.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Brushtail possum - Diet selection - Herbivory - Local adaptation - Plant defence
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
ID Code:72193
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:13
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2011-08-23
Last Modified:2012-03-06

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