Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp 903-919

First online:

Use of predator odors as repellents to reduce feeding damage by herbivores

I. Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus)
  • Thomas P. SullivanAffiliated withApplied Mammal Research Institute
  • , Lance O. NordstromAffiliated withApplied Mammal Research Institute
  • , Druscilla S. SullivanAffiliated withApplied Mammal Research Institute

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The effectiveness of predator odors (fecal, urine, and anal scent gland) in suppressing feeding damage by snowshoe hares was investigated in pen bioassays at the University of British Columbia Research Forest, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. A total of 28 bioassay trials tested the effects of these odors on hare consumption of willow browse and coniferous seedlings. Lynx and bobcat feces, weasel anal gland secretion, and lynx, bobcat, wolf, coyote, fox, and wolverine urines resulted in the most effective suppression of hare feeding damage. Novel odors of domestic dog urine and 2-methylbutyric acid did not reduce feeding. A field bioassay with lodgepole pine seedlings and weasel scent provided significant results comparable to the pen bioassays. The short-term (up to seven days) effectiveness of these treatments was more likely due to evaporative loss of the active repellent components of a given odor than habituation of hares to the stimulus. Predator odors as repellents have a biological basis compared with the anthropomorphic origins of commercial repellents. When encapsulated in weather-proof controlled-release devices, these odors could provide long-term protection for forestry plantations and agricultural crops which experience hare/rabbit feeding damage.

Key words

Bioassays conifer seedlings crop protection feeding activity herbivores Lepus americanus predator odors repellent snowshoe hare