Aversive responses of white-tailed deer,Odocoileus virginianus, to predator urines
- Cite this article as:
- Swihart, R.K., Pignatello, J.J. & Mattina, M.J.I. J Chem Ecol (1991) 17: 767. doi:10.1007/BF00994199
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We tested whether predator odors could reduce winter browsing of woody plants by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Urine from bobcats (Lyra rufus) and coyotes (Canis latrans) significantly reduced browsing of Japanese yews (Taxus cuspidata), and repellency was enhanced when urine was reapplied weekly as a topical spray. Urine of cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) and humans did not reduce damage, suggesting that deer do not respond aversively to odors of nonpredatory mammals or occasional predators with which they lack a long evolutionary association. Bobcat and coyote urine were more effective in tests conducted with eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), which is less palatable to white-tailed deer than Japanese yew. A dichloromethane extract of bobcat urine was as effective as unextracted urine in reducing damage to hemlocks. Testing of the organic components of bobcat urine, particularly the volatile components, may enable identification of the compounds responsible for the repellency we observed.