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Plant secondary compounds and the frequency of food types affect food choice by mammalian herbivores
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8103-1591
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
2005 (English)In: Ecology, ISSN 0012-9658, E-ISSN 1939-9170, Vol. 86, no 9, 2450-2460 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We have investigated food choice in individual fallow deer (Dama dama) encountering different relative frequencies of food types in the form of bowls containing pellets with either high or low concentrations of hydrolyzable tannin. We performed two similar experiments, one with large and one with small differences in tannic acid concentration. With small differences in tannic acid concentration, the ratio of the consumption per low- and high-tannin bowl was independent of frequency of occurrence, but with large differences in tannic acid concentration, we found frequency-dependent food choice. The deer ate proportionally less from high-tannin bowls if these occurred at low relative frequency. Variation between frequency treatments in the average order of encounter of bowl types might have produced this effect, because we found that the deer left a high-tannin bowl more quickly if they had switched to it from a low-tannin bowl. We argue that the perceived contrast between the tastes of different food types can play a role for food choice by mammalian herbivores.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 86, no 9, 2450-2460 p.
Keyword [en]
apostatic selection, contrast effect, Dama dama, fallow deer, frequency dependence, mammalian herbivory, plant secondary compounds, tannic acid, tannin
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-24224DOI: 10.1890/04-0978OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-24224DiVA: diva2:197049
Available from: 2007-05-04 Created: 2007-04-20 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Food choice in fallow deer – experimental studies of selectivity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Food choice in fallow deer – experimental studies of selectivity
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, I experimentally investigate feeding selectivity in fallow deer (Dama dama), with respect to plant secondary compounds, especially tannins, which can decrease the quality of foods. I found that fallow deer avoided foods with higher amounts of tannic acid and Quebracho tannin, even though the deer ate some high-tannin food. The food choice was strongly dependent on the context in which the food was presented, so that the food choice in relation to tannin content was relative rather than absolute. When high-tannin food occurred at low frequency, the deer ate proportionally less from this type of food, at least when the difference in tannin content between the two foods was large. A basic implication is that an unpalatable plant type could benefit from its unpalatability, especially when occurring at low frequency. In experiments with two patches, the finding of a stronger within- than between-patch selectivity was mirrored in associational effects. First, low-tannin, palatable food was more eaten when occurring in a high-tannin patch, which corresponds to neighbour contrast susceptibility. Second, high-tannin, unpalatable food in a less defended patch was less eaten, which corresponds to neighbour contrast defence. A proximate cause of the associational effects can be the presence of a simultaneous negative contrast, which was experimentally demonstrated in an additional study. Individual differences in selectivity were present early in life and were consistent over five years, and selectivity was correlated with foraging exploratory behaviour. The results from this thesis suggest that fallow deer are selective in their food choice with respect to tannins from the beginning, and that the frequency of occurrence of different foods, but also the distance between foods and the complexity of presentation, influence the food choice. It is also suggested that a foraging behavioural syndrome is present in mammalian herbivores.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Zoologiska institutionen, 2007. 114 p.
Keyword
behavioural syndrome, neighbour contrast defence, neighbour contrast susceptibility, simultaneous negative contrast, plant secondary compounds, tannins
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6789 (URN)91-7155-408-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-05-25, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 C, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-05-04 Created: 2007-04-20Bibliographically approved

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