How do herbivores find the plants?

Submitted by editor on 23 August 2016.Get the paper!

Can herbivores use sight and smell to detect preferred plants from afar? Our study shows that these senses are used by a model browser, the swamp wallaby, to find and consume eucalypt seedlings. However, the use of odour and visual cues is dependent on the context - such as the relative availability or detectability of the cues - and may not always lead to the consumption of the highest nutrient food.

Wallabies were more likely to browse low- than high-nutrient eucalypt seedlings, but only when seedlings were upright.  When seedlings were pinned horizontal to the ground, there was no difference in browsing probability between nutrient treatments. This suggests that long-range visual cues drove the greater probability of finding and browsing upright low-nutrient seedlings.

 

Rebecca S. Stutz

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