Preference of meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) for conifer seedlings: Chemical components and nutritional quality of bark of damaged and undamaged trees
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- Bucyanayandi, J.D., Bergeron, J.M. & Menard, H. J Chem Ecol (1990) 16: 2569. doi:10.1007/BF01017479
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Meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus Ord.) of the 1987–1988 population density peak left several seedling plantations of Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Norway pine (Pinus resinosa) severely damaged in southern Quebec, Canada, while white spruce (Picea glauca) and white pine (Pinus strobus) suffered no damage. We compared levels of crude protein, total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC), total phenols, and monoterpenes in the bark to detect differences between damaged and undamaged seedlings within and between plantations. There were no significant differences in levels of nutritional components between both types of seedlings within the same plantation. However, differences were noted among tree plantations for protein, TNC, and phenolics content but these differences could not be assigned to the voles' selection for particular species. Quantitative and qualitative differences also were registered in monoterpene levels between species. β-Myrcene and bornyl acetate were found only in seedlings of undamaged species. Moreover, the latter contained higher levels of limonene. We conclude that the presence of specific monoterpenes is more important in defense mechanisms of conifer seedlings than relative levels of nutrients (protein or TNC) or total phenolics.