Seasonal variation in volatile secondary compounds ofChrysothamnus nauseosus (Pallas) britt.; asteraceae ssp.hololeucus (Gray) hall. & clem. Influences herbivory
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- Halls, S.C., Gang, D.R. & Weber, D.J. J Chem Ecol (1994) 20: 2055. doi:10.1007/BF02066242
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Chrysothamnus nauseosus (rubber rabbitbrush) is used by browsing animals, especially mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), as a forage in the winter months. It is used only slightly, if at all in the summer. This dietary difference may result from changes in the secondary chemical composition of the leaves. Solvent extracts from summer and winter rabbitbrush leaves were analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, and the volatile compounds were quantified and identified. Hexane and chloroform extracts from winter leaves exhibit a marked concentration decrease in most chemicals when compared to summer extracts. The methanol extracts revealed the presence of several chemicals in the summer leaves that were absent in winter leaves. Rubber rabbitbrush has fewer secondary volatile chemicals in the winter than in the summer. These chemical differences may influence the seasonal dietary difference observed in mule deer and other browsing animals.