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14 August 2009 Caching as a Behavioral Mechanism to Reduce Toxin Intake
Ann-Marie Torregrossa, M. Denise Dearing
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We hypothesized that caching could be a mechanism to remove volatile secondary compounds from a plant-based diet. This mechanism has been demonstrated in 1 herbivore and has been hypothesized as a widespread mechanism for reduction of intake of toxins. We examined this hypothesis in both the field and the laboratory by documenting the ability of herbivorous rodents to manipulate alpha-pinene, the major terpene in juniper (Juniperus osteosperma). First, we dismantled middens of Neotoma albigula and found that cached plant material was devoid of alpha-pinene, whereas surrounding trees contained alpha-pinene. In laboratory trials, we examined the ability of woodrat species (N. albigula, N. lepida, and N. bryanti) to reduce toxin intake by storing food before consumption. Each species responded differently when offered terpene-treated pellets. N. albigula controlled terpene intake by increasing reliance on the terpene-free cache. N. lepida controlled terpene intake by decreasing total intake but did not change cache consumption. N. bryanti did not regulate terpene intake. All 3 species abandoned more food in the foraging cage when the food contained terpene. In an additional laboratory trial with N. albigula, we determined that increased abandonment was not related to cache size.

Ann-Marie Torregrossa and M. Denise Dearing "Caching as a Behavioral Mechanism to Reduce Toxin Intake," Journal of Mammalogy 90(4), 803-810, (14 August 2009).
Received: 13 August 2008; Accepted: 1 January 2009; Published: 14 August 2009

plant secondary compound
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