, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 343–349 | Cite as

The role of phenolic compounds and other plant constituents in feeding by Canada geese in a coastal marsh

  • Robert Buchsbaum
  • Ivan Valiela
  • Tony Swain
Original Papers


We have assessed the relative importance of phenolic compounds, other secondary metabolites, and gross nutrient levels as feeding cues to Canada geese. Phenolic content was the most significant constituent influencing feeding selection by geese. Nutrient content had little or no effect on feeding selection.

Correlative data showing the negative influence of plant phenolics on food choices by wild geese were supported by feeding preference tests. Extracts of unpalatable plants inhibited feeding by captive geese relative to extracts of palatable plants. In high phenolic plants, the phenolic containing methanol extract was more inhibitory than extractions made with petroleum ether. In a relatively low phenolic, unpalatable plant, an inhibitory factor was extractable in petroleum ether, indicating that for this species, another class of deterrents was involved. Preference tests with individual secondary metabolites showed that tannic acid and quebracho tannin were very effective in inhibiting feeding by geese and phenolic acids were slightly inhibitory, but a sesquiterpene lactone was not deterrent. These results point out the primacy of some secondary metabolites in determining food choices by geese.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Buchsbaum
    • 1
  • Ivan Valiela
    • 1
  • Tony Swain
    • 2
  1. 1.Marine Biological LaboratoryBoston University Marine ProgramWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Biological Science CenterBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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