Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 461–466 | Cite as

Dynamics of the Volatile Defense of Winter “Dormant” Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera)

  • Thomas P. ClausenEmail author
  • Janice Chen
  • John P. Bryant
  • Frederick D. Provenza
  • Juan Villalba


6-Hydroxycylohex-2-en-1-one (6-HCH) has been reported as a major chemical defense of the winter-dormant internodes of balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) against feeding by herbivores such as the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). We report that the concentration of 6-HCH in the fall internodes is triggered by a single hard frost, and then undergoes an exponential decline through volatilization over the winter that results in barely detectable quantities by early spring. We conclude that the role of 6-HCH in the defense of mature balsam poplar is more complex than simply acting as a toxin. Rather, 6-HCH’s role as a defensive agent must evolve over the course of the winter from being a co-toxin to a cue for a conditioned flavor aversion (CFA) to finally having no role by late spring.


Balsam poplar Populus balsamifera Snowshoe hare 6-HCH Conditioned flavor aversion Salicortin Plant defense 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas P. Clausen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Janice Chen
    • 2
  • John P. Bryant
    • 3
  • Frederick D. Provenza
    • 4
  • Juan Villalba
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Chemistry & BiochemistryUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Arctic BiologyUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  4. 4.Department of Wildland ResourcesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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