Adaptation to Resource Availability as a Determinant of Chemical Defense Strategies in Woody Plants

  • J. P. Bryant
  • F. S. ChapinIII
  • P. Reichardt
  • T. Clausen
Part of the Recent Advances in Phytochemistry book series (RAPT, volume 19)


Browsing mammals are usually generalist herbivores. For example, in boreal forests snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) and mountain hares (L. timidus) usually require a multi-species diet in order to survive during winter.1,2 Two hypotheses attempt to explain the generalist feeding behavior of browsing mammals: (a) Browsing mammals must feed upon several plant species in order to avoid ingestion of an overdose of one plant’s toxic secondary metabolites.2,3 (b) Browsing mammals must feed upon several plant species to optimize nutrient or energy intake.4–8 Here we test these two hypotheses by considering the phytochemical basis for winter food selection by snowshoe hares in an Alaskan taiga forest. We conclude by discussing our findings in light of presently held views of plant-herbivore interactions.


Woody Plant Boreal Forest Chemical Defense Generalist Herbivore Mountain Hare 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. P. Bryant
    • 1
  • F. S. ChapinIII
    • 1
  • P. Reichardt
    • 2
  • T. Clausen
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Arctic BiologyUniversity of AlaskaFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversity of AlaskaFairbanksUSA

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