, Volume 79, Issue 2, pp 189-192

An antifeedant in balsam poplar inhibits browsing by snowshoe hares

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The ‘plant defense guild’ hypothesis for the evolution of plant secondary chemicals predicts that plant species defend themselves against generalist herbivores such as the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) in the Canadian boreal forest by evolving unique antifeedant chemicals. Plant species may coevolve in an ecosystem by presenting an array of chemicals to herbivores. We report further evidence for this idea from the presence of 2,4,6-trihydroxydihydrochalcone in the CH2Cl2 extracts of Populus balsamifera juvenile twigs. These extracts, added to rabbit chow, were offered to hares in choice tests. The bioassay established that the chemical acted as an antifeedant for hares.